Top Ten 2011 Blog Posts

    I know I’m a year late, but as I began to assemble the top ten blog posts of 2012, I realized that there were a few from 2011 that still had value and might well be worth a second look.  Here they are, more or less in order of popularity.
1) God Will Destroy the Fat Cats – November 29, 2011 – A Blog about God’s desire to destroy the rich, well, not really… but sort of.
2) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 1 – February 9, 2011 – Part 1 of 4 – The first in a series that I wrote after the shooting of Gabriel Giffords.  Not really pro-gun or anti gun, just asking a lot of questions and thinking out loud.    The first two installments made the year’s top ten, but while part 3 was moderately popular, almost no one made it to part 4.  My lesson?  Even broken into pieces, this was just too long.
3) Happy Birthday Mr. Shea! – February 2, 2011 – A tribute to George Beverly Shea           on his 102nd birthday.  
4) Laws of Man and God – Are guns evil? Part 2– February 10, 2011 – Part 2 of 4
5) Living Together, No Harm No Foul? – April 27, 2011 – Is living together normal, healthy, moral and responsible?  I’m sure you can find lots of people who think it’s a good idea, but, well, no. 
6) Seeing God in the World Around You – March 25, 2011 – A man I never met, weeps during my talk, wondering how I knew so much about his life.  I didn’t.  But God did.
7) 20/20 Blindness – March 31, 2011 – A blind man is thrown out of a restaurant because of his guide dog.  Apparently, humans are just as blind today as the Pharisees that Jesus knew.            
8) Christmas in January – January 4, 2011- I explain why our family still leaves our Christmas decorations us until the first week in January.  Not everyone celebrates Christmas on December 25th you know.
9) Too Busy for God? – May 25, 2011 – Do you plans for the summer, or for the New Year, include church.  If church is important to you, don’t allow it to happen by accident.

    In reality, there was a three or four way tie for tenth place.  Instead of picking one of those, or using all of them, I jump to the blog that comes after the tie because, even though it was read less often, it had more comments than any other blog of the year.  That’s worth something mentioning, I think.

10) A New Digital Divide – Who wins, who loses? – January 19, 2011 – As we become an increasingly technological society, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the people who are being left behind.
Honorable Mention) The Nightmare of Democracy? – February 14, 2011 – I include this, a blog that was written at the very beginning of what we now call the Arab Spring.  In it, I worried that the revolution in Egypt might not be such a great thing.  In the two years since, attacks on Coptic Christians and on the Coptic Church have increased and the government has shown little interest in preventing it.  Events are still unfolding in the Middle East and as they do, out brothers and sisters in Christ will continue to be in need of our prayers.

Christmas in January

    In my neighborhood I see it, they’re talking about it after church, a lot of my Facebook friends and even some of my extended family is doing it.  They’re all taking down their Christmas decorations.  Okay maybe this isn’t news to most of you, but I’m planning on leaving ours up for a while longer.   The reason? 
Christmas isn’t over yet.
    I know that the calendar says that Christmas was on December 25th and I know that there are a lot of people who start hauling the Christmas tree to the curb on December 26th, but I’m not one of them.
    There are several reasons.  First, it suits my natural tendency to procrastinate but second, since it takes me a while to get into the Christmas spirit, I like to leave our decorations up and enjoy them while I can.  Third, it’s the way things were always done in our house when I grew up.  You see, not everyone celebrates Christmas in December.  Sure our church did, and in fact all of the churches in the Protestant and Catholic traditions do, but that isn’t everybody in our big Christian family.  Many of us forget that those Christians who are connected to the Eastern Orthodox tradition (Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc.) celebrate Christmas, not in December but closer to the time that the rest of us celebrate Epiphany.  The Eastern churches follow the old Gregorian calendar for their holidays and not the newer Julian calendar that was adopted by most of us in the early 20th century.  As a result, Christmas falls not on December 25th but on January 7th.
    So why do I, a Methodist, a profoundly Protestant guy, observe a tradition of a church to which I have no apparent connection?  Because our family is still connected.  When I was growing up our family lived in East Akron on Brittain Road.  On one side our neighbors were the Gryvnak’s and on the other, the Sasenicki’s (I can’t find them in the phone book, but this is our family’s best guess at spelling forty years later).  Both families were Russian Orthodox and while we would go next door and sing Christmas carols in December, they would come to our house and sing carols in January.  As a token of friendship and neighborliness, our family began to leave our decorations up until holiday celebrations were over for all of us.  While these folks haven’t been my neighbors in the last eleven dorms, apartments and houses I’ve lived in over the last few decades, the tradition (or habit) of leaving our decorations up has persisted.  I guess for me it has become a way to remember my childhood but also a way to remember that as followers of Jesus, we are not all that there is. 
As brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, our family is bigger than just the name on the front of the church. 
    Leaving our decorations up a little longer is a simple way for us to remember that we’re all connected and it’s also a way to be good neighbors to our brothers and sisters who do things a little differently than the rest of us.