Inherit the Wind; and other musings

Big Al and I watched Inherit the Wind on Turner Classic Movies last night.  (You remember this was the fictionalized account of the Scopes Monkey Trial.)


It was still in Black and White (not colorized, thank goodness).  I had forgotten a lot of the subtleties in the years since I had seen it.  It was set in 1925 and actually produced in 1960. 

I felt so sorry for the Claude Akins character.  He was the town pastor who ended up disinheriting his daughter over her support for the school teacher.  I’m surprised he didn’t even get noticed for an award in a supporting role.  It was very different from the type of characters he usually played, and he did a wonderful job.

I was very interested this morning when I listened to the current episode of God Complex Radio.


A lot of the things Brian McLaren


Phil Shepherd


and Landon Whitsett


were talking about currently was very visible in the movie.  I was particularly interested in their comments about making the Bible itself more important than what it says to us.

I remember once I got in a LOT of trouble when I was in a Sunday School room during the week.  We were having a meeting about youth group or something, and there was a lot of stuff on the table, including a ragged, paperback Bible.  I said something like “We’ve gotta move this junk out of the way so we can spread out these posters we’re working on.”  Well, you would have thought I had called Mary a whore and Jesus her pimp!  “You can’t talk that way about the Bible!”  I”m thinking “Talk like what?”

In the movie, the Clarence Darrow character gets the William Jennings Bryan character twisted up in insisting that the Bible be taken literally, and that the Bible is the “revealed word of God”.  He stumbles on Joshua making the sun stand still, he hems and haws about the age of the rocks, and he never can figure out where “Mrs. Cain” came from.  I was always interested in what he would have said if he had been challenged with “There were Giants in the land.”

But seriously, how different are the current crop of “fundyloons” from those who put the teacher on trial.  How is that different from the Texas Textbook committee who would like to insist that the South won the war between the states, and that minorities had no influence in this nation.  What does this say to those in my own denomination who say that LGBTQ folk aren’t worthy of respect or ordination – because the Bible says?

A History of Skin Cancer

The story actually begins in my childhood, when I got several (lots) of sunburns.

Fast-forward to July 2010.  The dermatologist decided to biopsy a tiny little spot on the side on my nose.

Sure enough, it turned out to be basal cell carcinoma (the good kind of skin cancer).  “But you better have it taken care of.”

Trip to the plastic surgeon in August, and I was scheduled to have it removed with Mohs Surgery, on September 22.

The next day, I went back and got the stitches put in.  (Note the wonderful black eye!)

On September 30th, I went back and had the stitches taken out, and graduated to steri-strips.  (Black eye has pretty well faded).

Yesterday, the steri-strips came off and I’m left with a nice, little scar that will fade and disappear in all the other wrinkles on my face.

I’m assured the scar will flatten out and fade away.  Anyway, I’m now (knock on wood) cancer free – at least on my face!

P.S.  Please be sure to see my update from March 2011.


I’m participating in THE SATURDAY EVENING BLOG POST, vol. 2, issue 9

This is where bloggers gather on the first Saturday of each month to share their latest and greatest blog posts.  This weekend we are sharing our favorite post from September 2010!

I chose Gift, Gifts, and Gifting because we are getting into Stewardship season at church, and it seems like everybody wants me to donate money to something.

Social Media Speech at Toastmasters

In the mid-1990s, I was a member of an AOL book discussion group.  There were about 40 of us who would read the same book, and then have a chat about it.  Between chats we got to know each other as we suggested new books and talked about what was going on in our lives.  I drove from Abilene TX to New York City to meet up with 15 of these people.  Along the way I stopped in Nashville TN, Dayton OH, and New Hope PA to have lunch, dinner or spend the night with more of those group members.  On the way back, I stayed in Richmond VA with a member and had visits with folks in North Carolina, and Georgia.  Later that year my husband had a business trip to Las Vegas, and I went along for the ride.  While we were in Vegas, we took a weekend and drove to San Francisco to have lunch with another 8 or 10 folks who had only met on-line.

Fast forward to 2008 and Facebook and Twitter burst on the scene.  It was nothing particularly earth-shattering for me.  I had developed virtual friendships 15 years before.  It feels like the rest of the world has finally caught up to me in Social Media. 

As I have wound down my professional life, I’ve looked for activities and friendships to fill my time and I’ve found several wonderful places to spend my time.  I play bridge, I’m knitting again, and I’m putting in more and more time with my church.  I was elected to the session (that’s one of the ruling boards in the Presbyterian Church), and my calling has been to try to get the church to use modern tools.

The greater church (Presbyterian Church (USA)) was fortunate to have a tech savvy moderator and vice-moderator for the past two years.  They were and are active on Facebook and Twitter, and through their “friend” recommendations I have found a wonderful virtual community on line.  The community is made up of pastors and lay people from all over the country.  Most of them are Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, or United Church of Christ.  I’m not sure why that is, but we seem to be the denominations that have embraced social media.  There are even some who are non-denominational.  They call themselves the Outlaw Preachers.  The pastors usually preach from the common lectionary and post their sermons on their blogs for others to see and get ideas from.  We share recommendations of books about the emerging church, conferences that might be worthwhile and generally get in each other’s lives.  We pray for each other, support each other, and love each other, although many, if not most, have never met IRL (in real life) or f2f (face to face).

Carol Howard Merritt, a pastor from Washington DC, and one of my Twitter friends has recently published her second book.  She is an advocate for the emerging church which seeks to “do church” in a way that will speak to a younger generation.  In this book, Reframing Hope, which I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of, she talks about how Social Media is changing our way of forming community.

 “I’m tangled up in a tight web of people right now.  I have gotten to know them through e-mails, blogs, and social networking sites.  I know what they ate for breakfast this morning and what’s going on in their lives from day to day.  I could easily pick each of them out of a crowd because I have seen so many photos of them and their families – although I have never met them in the flesh. 

“This new form of intimacy has developed as the capacity and availability of the Internet has evolved.  We are in the midst of a third wave of Internet communications.  The first was for military defense.  The second included one-way websites, commerce, and e-mail.  The third wave (also called Web 2.0) is interactive.  It allows the reader of a website to talk back, discuss, and question.  It encourages ratings on purchased products.  And, most importantly, this wave allows communities to form across continents, and even around the globe, as networks of people no longer have to be in geographic proximity to interact.”

People have complained that social media is contributing to a fragmentation of society.  Carol addresses it this way.

“Through the Internet and our ability to use it to publish theories, disseminate ideas, and organize people, community is forming and friendships are emerging.  People who were once segregated are able to hear one another and live together in a different way.

“Our communication has changed so we can easily move from face-to-face interactions to interfacing communications.  Speaking to one another, seeing the expressions, and hearing the tremble in each voice has not waned in importance; it is just that we have additional tools that can enhance our personal narratives and make our interpersonal communication even deeper.

“I was reminded of the depth and power of our stories and the way technology has shaped our sharing of them a few weeks ago when I got home from the office.  As soon as I came in from the cold and set my laptop down, my husband asked with urgency, ‘Have you been following Twitter?’

“‘No, I had a meeting and needed to get some stuff done.  Why?’ I responded.

“‘Gideon committed suicide.’

“I knew Gideon.  I mean I sort of knew Gideon.  I never met him in real life, and yet I understood all sorts of things about him.  We ‘talked’ to each other often through regular updates of Twitter.  Reading about the joys and struggles of Gideon’s day became a part of my regular rhythm…

“I pored over his thoughtful prayers until they became my own.  He was an intelligent young man, an Episcopalian, full of care and remorse, trying to sort out what he was going to do in the next step of his career…

“When Gideon took his life, hundreds of people grieved.  I heard the sorrow echoing from men and women across the country, from every sort of religious tradition.  The despair rose, until it became clear how many people had prayed, complained, struggled, and studied with Gideon.  As a compline of laments reverberated over the Twitter feed, it seemed that we were listening to a holy chorus.  Living through the death of Gideon made me realize how this man’s story, which had arisen through short updates and woven through so many lives, created a powerful community.

“That evening, the Twitter status of Jon Fogle, a pastor inPennsylvania, summed up our sentiments:  ‘Anyone complaining about the superficiality of social networking wasn’t paying attention today.””

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to update my Twitter feed and let all my tweeple know that the speech is over, and it went well.  They were encouraging me.

(After I sat down, I got a Facebook reply saying “Good Luck on your speech” and found these Tweets in my timeline. 

From Carol Howard:  @AbbieWatters courage to you! And thanks for the quote. 🙂

From John Harrison:  @AbbieWatters I knew it would go great! Way ta go!!!!

From Christy Ramsey:  @AbbieWatters Hope the Ah Counter at Toastmasters was kind. Congrats for standing and delivering.

From Kevin Murphy: @AbbieWatters All the best with your talk. I referred my church to your writings on using twitter for outreach

From Kimberly Dinsdale: @AbbieWatters so cool! Howd it go? (Kimberly lives in California and hadn’t yet gotten my report))