Merry Christmas 2020 – From the Carroll Family!


Our church put out a call for video submissions for the Christmas Eve streaming service. Here is what we contributed.

I threw it together into one video and added some cheesy effects and titles.

This is…

  • The Christmas Carrolls performing “Away in a Manger”
  • Molly reading The First Christmas Night by Keith Christopher
  • Ian doing some prayers on the fly – take 1 & take 2. (We only sent take 2 to the church.)

Check out live & archived videos from the church here: https://www.facebook.com/hillschurchexport/live

Yes we will.


So, one of the Recreation campers this week was new to the group.  Tod is 23, and he wowed us all with is flag collection & knowledge.  He had over 150 with him at camp… some full sized, some miniatures.  He could name the flag and the time period.  (For example the Imperial Japanese flag & the current one.)  He sorted the flags by continent.  He named some countries that I didn’t know existed.  He also had a thing for cool military hats, and a bunch of those as well… from French to Russian to Australian.

Tod also has an incredibly creative imagination.  He told many stories and wrote songs and stories in his pile of composition books.  He told us bout elves that lived in the woods, that shot lasers to make you grow tall, vampire princesses, mermaids that had nests under our cabins, purple giraffes that laid eggs, werepigs, four-headed frogs, poisonous porcupines… and so many other fantastic creatures.

Tod shared readings of song lyrics & the story of Esther all hand written by him in his books.  He also drew us many pictures.  One of our counselors Laurel took home a pile (he seemed to take a liking to her & handed her a lot of them), and I have some photos of others, but I did bring one home that he handed to me.  Tod told me it was a song.  I’d like to share it with you:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name  by Tod Elbridge Johnson  It was at Living Waters The wind blows, the flags fly, And the Campers Come!  But you should not doubt me, You will remember my name.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters warm and tender You will remember my name.  Your heart, Your heart had ventured with Jesus.  Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters so warm and tender You will remember my name.  Yeah you will remember my name.

You Will Remember My Name (Tod Elbridge Johnson)

Here it is typed out if you had trouble reading it:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name

by Tod Elbridge Johnson

It was at Living Waters
The wind blows, the flags fly,
And the campers come!

But you should not doubt me,
You will remember my name.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Your heart,
Your heart had ventured with Jesus.

Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters so warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Yeah you will remember my name.

Yes, Tod, we will remember.

I might try to set this, or some of the lines to music.  I hope Tod likes the result!

God’s Spam


Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois).

W(aL)D

Sometimes,  like to reply to spam emails.  I really wish this author would have written back to me.

From: Mrs.Linda Vells <sheryely@aol.com>
To:
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Subject: Re: GOD’S PROJECT

Dearest Friend ,
I am Mrs.Linda Huspage Vells from Netherland, I am 68 years old, I am suffering from a long time cancer of the breast, from all indication my conditions is really deteriorating and it is quite obvious that I can’t work or do any stressful thing, according to my doctors they have advised me that I may not live for the next two months, this is because the cancer stage has gotten to a very bad stage. I was brought up from a motherless babies home was married to my late husband for twenty years without a child,
My Husband Huspage died in a fatal motor accident before his death we were true Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry,I sold all my inherited belongings and deposited all the sum of USD$4.6 Million dollars with a Bank in London. Presently, this money is still with the Bank and the management just wrote me as the true owner to come forward to receive the money or rather issue a letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf since I can not come over because of my illness.
So instead of getting it confiscated I rather have someone whom I can trust to receive the funds and utilize it according to my wishes. And the best part of it is, the Bank told me in the letter that they can have the funds released to my approved person .
Presently, I am using my laptop in the hospital at Germany where I have been undergoing treatment for my sickness. I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only more 2 months to live.
It is my last wish to see atleast 60% of this money is
invested/donated to any organisation/buisness of your choice and distributed each year among the charity organization, e.g. the poor homes, the motherless babies home where I came from, the deaf homes, and churches etc and 40% will be for your Well doing.
All I seek for is a God fearing person like you ,who will carry out my last wishes and before I emailed you today i prayed and the holy spirit gave me the confidence to send you this email. I took this decision, before I rest in peace because my time will soon be up. As soon as I receive your reply I will give you the contact of the Bank in London.
Please send me your Full name,full Address,Age,Occupation and phone no.
All I need from you is a confidential assurance that the funds when received by you will be used for the said purpose, Nowadays there are so much scams going on in the internet and it is difficult to trust but I don’t know why the Holy spirit still approved me to email you about this out of few email addresses I have from the internet, yours was the only one that my mind convinced me to contact.
Waiting for your reply.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs.Linda Vells

Of course I was interested.  Invoking God, motherless children, and Cancer in this not-quite Nigerian Scam?

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Oct 20, 2011
Subject: Re: GOD’S PROJECT
To: sheryely@aol.com

Hello Mrs. Vells,

Thank you for taking the time to write.  What an exciting opportunity God has in his plan for us!  I am sorry to hear about your breast cancer and the passing of your husband.  I have yet to have any children, but I do have a plan for world (and lunar) domination that I consider dear to me like it were a child.

I do not mean to question the work of the Holy Spirit… but you can forgive me if my skeptical side sees this as perhaps some sort of scam?  I have heard that there is no cancer in the Netherlands because of all the fish in the diet.  I’m also suspicous that your email address, “sheryely@aol.com“, doesn’t look anything like your name.  How do I know that this isn’t the work of the devil?  Lucifer is a tricky one!  Also, one does not become ruler of the earth (and moon) by being too trusting, if you know what I mean.

I do not feel comfortable divulging my full name, full address, age, occupation & phone number.  I would have to assume that were one on a true mission from God (like the Blues Brothers) that he would have provided you this information in addition to my email address.  I will share my occupation…  Your Future Emperor of the Earth (and Moon).  I don’t have an address currently recognized by any government (save for Monaco, Nauru, and Lichtenstein), and on top of that there is no postal service here in the Sea of Tranqulity.  I’m on the lunar surface overseeing the survey process in order to build the first Chick-fil-A on the moon.

Perhaps you can put the cash in an envelope, and leave it at a drop point where I can pick it up upon my return to earth?  This really is your best course of action.  With the current state of banking in the United States, I don’t want to risk such a large transfer to my US-held accounts.  I also don’t want the government to slap me with a gift tax.  I’ll need funding to keep my minions happy, and eventually all material wealth will be mine anyway.  As my grandfather used to say, “Why piss in the face of progress?”  Your donation will be appreciated!  Do you want to see if my minions can put your head in a jar, like the celebrities on Futurama?  Perhaps it can be arranged.  I’ll need an overseer of the state approved religion, and someone with direct communications to God really would fit the bill.  Please consider my offer for decapitated immortality!

Then we could work together on your plan to eliminate the poor houses, deaf houses, and motherless children in the name of the church.  We may also have a management position open at Chick-fil-A.  I will put in a good word for you.  They dig the religious thing.

Now we need a good drop point in Germany… perhaps somewhere near a beer garden?  I do love to drink beer and wear my lederhosen!  I’ll leave it up to your best judgement, and I’ll pick it up whenever you tell me it’s ready.  I would like some of it in small bills though… as to not annoy the Chick-fil-A when I place my orders.  I prefer to communicate via email, it’s the only reliable form of correspondence here on the moon.

My pleasure,
-Waldo Lunar
World (and Lunar) Domination

A series of Chick-fil-A trucks at the Airport ...

Do you have lunar-surface tires?

Papal Participation in Lenten Lunacy


A while ago, I decided to write a goofy letter to the Pope about shellfish & Lent.  It was surprisingly very easy to find the Pope’s email address online.  I wrote an email, and again got some editing/revision help from Dave, and sent it off to the Pontiff himself.  Here’s that email…

from ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
to benedictxvi@vatican.va
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by gmail.com

Good Day Your Holiness,

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find your email address with a quick Google search! I find it fascinating as well as endearing that you make yourself so accessible to the world, and embrace this new technology. I’m not sure if this is monitored and directed by yourself, or your trusted staff, but either way… I salute your effort. Also, I’m not sure if this would need to go through translators, or not. Perhaps I should use Google translator and post the results after my message in English?

I’m sure you are quite a busy man, especially in preparation for the upcoming Easter holiday, so I will try to make my point as succinctly as possible.

I would like to express my frustrations with the Lent season and the proliferation of seafood specials on Fridays at nearly every restaurant where I would otherwise be happy to dine. You see, I have a severe shellfish allergy, this makes dining out an adventure under normal circumstances. During Lent, restaurants that normally have minimal or no shellfish selections seem to produce them out of nowhere. This really hampers my ability to dine out comfortably, if at all.

With any cross-contamination, I can go into anaphylactic shock almost immediately. This means if I have a steak or piece of chicken that touches a grill where some lobster was just cooked, or if I have onion rings from the same fryer that was also cooking shrimp; I would begin the process with an internal itching/burning sensation in my Eustachian tube and rapidly closing bronchi.

I would like to ask if you could perhaps add shellfish (and possibly even regular fish) to the list of recommendations of things that one ought to give up in observation of lent. They are part of the “big 8” allergens in the world today. It would really help out a lot of followers & non-followers out there, being able to dine during the Lenten season in complete comfort! I figured that as the Pope, you’re in the best position to propose and act upon a movement of such magnitude.

You might even be able to offer up an explanation at why people have been eating fish for the lent season for so long, now that it’s no longer really an inconvenience. This would be in line with your call to return to stricter Christian values, no? Perhaps it would dispel the rumors that the Catholic Church of yore was in league with a local fishmonger and pushed fish on lent solely (pun intended – would that pun translate well into German? See, “sole” is a type of fish, and is also the root word to “solely” meaning singular…) to raise profits for the fishmonger, who in turn would up the amount of his tithe to the church. I can only assume that this is a rumor, as I find different versions of the tale on the internet, and no real concrete evidence to back any of the allegations.

I’m not Catholic myself, but am a Protestant (United Church of Christ, more specifically). I would say that in recent times we’re “on the same team” though, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps Peter didn’t intend to include shellfish when he repealed the laws of clean and unclean animals put forth in Leviticus? Perhaps something was lost in translation?

I have one final idea. For Lent, all devout Christians ought to revert to a strict kosher diet. This would certainly strengthen ties with our Jewish friends and put more emphasis on the kind of Passover meal that Jesus would have had with his disciples at the last supper. I would think that this is wholly appropriate for this time of year, and it certainly helps me with my dining problem. Perhaps I ought to just convert and stick to kosher delis and grocery stores? Ha ha ha.

I would like to thank you for your time, and truly cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the subject at hand. I also look forward to a possible continued dialog about faith, shellfish, and allergies.

Humbly,
-Eric

Google translation:

Guten Tag Eure Heiligkeit,

Ich war angenehm überrascht, wie einfach es ist, Ihre E-Mail-Adresse mit einem schnelle Google-Suche finden! Ich finde es faszinierend wie liebenswert, dass Sie sich so der Welt zugänglich zu machen, und die neue Technologie. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob dies überwacht wird und von Ihnen selbst gerichtet, oder Ihren Mitarbeitern vertrauen, aber so oder so … Ich begrüße Ihre Bemühungen. Also, ich bin nicht sicher, ob diese müssten durch Übersetzer, oder nicht. Vielleicht sollte ich Google-Übersetzer zu wenden, und nach den Ergebnissen nach meiner Nachricht in Englisch?

Ich bin sicher, Sie haben völlig ein viel beschäftigter Mann, vor allem im Hinblick auf die bevorstehenden Osterferien, also werde ich versuchen, meinen Standpunkt ebenso knapp wie möglich zu machen.

Ich möchte meinen Frust mit der Fastenzeit und der Verbreitung von Meeresfrüchte-Spezialitäten am Freitag um fast jedem Restaurant, wo ich nicht anders ausdrücken würde sich freuen, zu speisen. Sehen Sie, ich einen schweren Schalentiere Allergie haben, das macht einem Dinner ein Abenteuer unter normalen Umständen. In der Fastenzeit, Restaurants, die normalerweise keine oder eine minimale Auswahl Muscheln scheinen zu ihrer Herstellung aus dem Nichts. Dies behindert wirklich meine Fähigkeit zu speisen sich behaglich, wenn überhaupt.

Mit eine Kreuzkontamination kann ich in einen anaphylaktischen Schock gehen fast sofort. Dies bedeutet, wenn ich ein Steak oder ein Stück Huhn berührt haben, dass ein Grill, wo einige Hummer nur gekocht wurde, oder wenn ich Zwiebelringe aus der gleichen Friteuse das war auch das Kochen Garnelen, ich würde den Prozess mit einem internen Juckreiz begin / Brennen in meiner Tuba und schnell schließen Bronchien.

Ich möchte fragen, ob Sie vielleicht könnten Muscheln (und möglicherweise sogar regelmäßig Fisch) in die Liste der Empfehlungen der Dinge, die man aufgeben, in der Beobachtung der Fastenzeit soll hinzuzufügen. Sie sind Teil der “Big 8” Allergene in der heutigen Welt. Es wäre wirklich sehr helfen, von Anhängern und nicht-Anhänger gibt, in der Lage, die während der Fastenzeit im kompletten Komfort zu speisen! Ich dachte, wie der Papst, Sie in der besten Position zu schlagen und die Reaktion auf eine Bewegung von solcher Tragweite sind.

Man könnte sogar in der Lage sein Angebot bis auf eine Erklärung, warum Menschen wurden Verzehr von Fisch für die Fastenzeit so lange, jetzt, da es nicht mehr wirklich ein Nachteil. Dies stünde im Einklang mit Ihren Anruf, um strengere christlichen Werte zurückgeben, nicht wahr? Vielleicht wäre es die Gerüchte, dass die katholische Kirche von einst wurde in der Liga mit einem örtlichen Fischhändler und schob Fisch auf nur geliehen (pun intended zerstreuen – wäre das Wortspiel auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen? See, “allein” ist eine Art von Fisch, und ist auch die Wurzel Wort “ausschließlich” bedeutet Singular …), um Gewinne für die Fischhändler, der seinerseits würde die Höhe seiner Zehnten der Kirche zu erheben. Ich kann nur annehmen, dass dies ein Gerücht ist, wie ich verschiedene Versionen der Geschichte im Internet zu finden, und keine wirkliche konkrete Beweise vorzulegen, um die Behauptungen zurück.

Ich bin nicht katholisch mich, aber ich bin ein Protestant (United Church of Christ, genauer gesagt). Ich würde sagen, dass in der letzten Zeit sind wir “auf der gleichen Mannschaft” aber nicht würden Sie zustimmen? Vielleicht Peter hatte nicht vor, Schalentiere, wenn er aufgehoben den Gesetzen der reinen und unreinen Tieren setzte sich weiter in Levitikus enthalten? Vielleicht etwas in der Übersetzung verloren?

Ich habe noch eine letzte Idee. Für die Fastenzeit, die alle gläubigen Christen sollten eine strenge koschere Ernährung zurückzukehren. Dies würde sicherlich zur Stärkung der Beziehungen mit unseren jüdischen Freunden und legen mehr Gewicht auf die Art des Passah-Mahl, das Jesus mit seinen Jüngern beim letzten Abendmahl hätte. Ich würde denken, das ist ganz angemessen für diese Zeit des Jahres, und es sicherlich hilft mir bei meinem Esszimmer Problem. Vielleicht sollte ich erst konvertieren und halten Sie sich Feinkostläden und Lebensmittelgeschäften koscher? Ha ha ha.

Ich möchte Ihnen für Ihre Zeit danken und kann wirklich nicht warten, bis Sie Ihre Meinung zu diesem Thema an die Hand zu hören. Ich freue mich auch auf einen möglichen weiteren Dialog über den Glauben, Muscheln und Allergien.

Demütig
-Eric

Yes, that’s a crudely copy n’ pasted Google translation, and I have no idea if it made any sense at all in German.  Judging by some of the bounce-backs that I received, it may have been stopped by some SPAM filters.

As expected, it went a couple of weeks without a response, so I looked up some other addresses at the Vatican, and for national & local Catholic organizations, and wrote this little forward to send to a bunch of them, along with the original email…

Hello Friends,

I recently sent an email to Pope Benedict XVI regarding some allergy concern issues that I have surrounding Lent, and possible modification of policies on the Church’s policy of not eating meat on Fridays.

I realize that the Pope is probably the busiest man in the world.  He is the head of an organization that transcends many country, political, and cultural borders… and he has many important duties, most especially in this holy time of year.

I was wondering if you would perhaps be able to direct me to someone who would be better suited to open a dialogue about my concerns noted below?

Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for your help!
-Eric

Finally, we have a response, and not surprisingly, it’s from someone at a local level…

from Gretz, Rev James R <jgretz@diopitt.org>
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
cc “Bielewicz, Vy Rev Harry R.” <hbielewicz@diopitt.org>,
“Wagner, Laura L” <lwagner@diopitt.org>
date Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM
subject My struggles with Lent & dietary concerns…
mailed-by diopitt.org

Eric,

Peace and greetings to you.  Your letter sent to many in the Diocesan Offices eventually came to me as the Director of the Department for Worship.  I will attempt to answer your concerns as best as possible.

It is wonderful that our Holy Father is accessible via the internet.  He did recently challenge priests and the Church to better use electronic media for reaching out to people.  Thus my email response to you!

While I am not in marketing, I do see the proliferation of restaurants attempting to make a profit with the “target audience” each Lenten Season.  I guess that’s how business works.  At the same time, I do sympathize with your allergy plight.  Personally, I do not suffer with allergies, however, my late mother had one to lactose and it was very difficult to take her out to dinner.  I know of others who suffer with “celiac-sprue” – the allergy to gluten and wheat products.  That too is a horrible cross to bear.  My mother and the others solved it by frequenting only the restaurants that would gladly serve their needs.  I would suggest the same.

The discipline of abstinence, refraining from meat products, actually has an ancient history.  I too know of the truly legendary stories of fishmongers and their unions, if you will!  However, the discipline goes back to an extant document of the early Second Century known as the “Didache” or “The Lord’s Instruction to the Twelve Apostles”.  You mentioned the kosher diet.  So, yes, when we think of Jewish people, that dietary style comes to mind.  That was the intent of the Didache.  The early Church wanted to have their own dietary laws to make them distinctive as well, hence abstinence, especially on Friday, the day our Lord died for us, so that we too might suffer a little with Him.  That is our mark on the world, if you will.  I seem to recall that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops back in the 1990’s was discussing this discipline and perhaps returning it to all Fridays of the year.  The objection was that since many are refraining from red meat in general and more people are vegans, what does abstinence mean to the modern world?  Of course, the discipline remains for the Lenten Season, however, it is good to dream as to what the modern version of abstinence might be….

Which, then, leads me to your final thoughts about adopting the kosher diet for Lent.  Actually, if all people really embraced the meaning of the Lenten Season – a time for conversion and returning to the Lord – we would definitely have a much better world.

If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me.  Until then, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. James R. Gretz

Rev. James R. Gretz, M.Div., M.T.S.
Director, Department for Worship
Diocesan Master of Ceremonies
Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

2900 Noblestown Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA  15205
voice: 412-456-3041
fax: 412-456-3163

+++++++++++

Someone took this letter quite seriously!  I wonder if I’ll hear from anyone else… and I’m wondering how to continue form this point on.  It certainly is fun to see my W(aL)D insanity taken seriously.  It is fun to know that I got a response.  No offense intended here, but I always viewed the Catholic Church as a little “stuffy”.  Maybe they’re mellowing out in this digital age?