So this priest walks into a hardware store…

So as you may recall my wife and I have gotten really into bourbon.  On our tour of the Bourbon Trail we tasted a lot of different bourbons and ryes and we saw a lot of different bottles.  The coolest bottle by far was from Willett.  Their flagship bourbon comes in a bottle shaped like their still.

My lovely wife and I at Willett

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But what do you do with that very cool bottle once it’s empty?  Turns out they can be made into lamps.  While I’m not a very crafty person I figured it was worth a try.

So here’s how it’s done.

I started with a trip to the local hardware store,  You can get a basic lamp kit most anywhere but I did have to order the bit for drilling the glass.  Once that arrived I assembled all the parts and got to work.

Drilling a hole in the bottom of the bottle seemed tricky.  I practiced on an empty Four Roses bottle just to get the hang of it.  Turns out it’s fairly time consuming.  You have to constantly drip water where you’re drilling to keep things running smoothly.  But eventually the bit went through and the bottle was intact.

This meant it was time to try the Willett bottle.  The long, narrow neck made keeping things steady and level somewhat challenging but just ten minutes later it was all done.

Next came wiring the lamp.  I had spent some time trying to figure out what to do with the wire that would run up the middle of the lamp.  While a nice cloth covered cord wasn’t too unattractive if left exposed I really wanted something nicer.

Here’s a bare bones one I found online. Note the exposed cord- definitely not the effect I wanted!

Thankfully, there’s a whole lot of these lamps on Etsy and Pinterest.   After scrolling through the options I finally found a solution.  I could run the wire inside a slender copper pipe.

So, after drilling through the stopper I threaded the pipe and then the wire.  Wiring up the socket is very straight forward.  Once everything was made snug came the moment of truth.  Sure enough it lit up right away.

With lamp assembled and working, all I had to find a shade.  This was no simple matter.  After a lot of searching  I settled on a smaller shade made of copper colored silk.  A final tweak had to be made because the 10 inch harp that came with the kit was too tall .  One last quick trip to the hardware store and I had an 8 inch harp that worked perfectly.

While it took more than a month to go from the impetus to the final product, all in all it wasn’t that much work.  So next time the crafty urge strikes me I might just find myself walking into a hardware store again.

Saint Brigid’s Great Lake of Beer

Today is St. Brigid’s day. It continues to surprise me that this post continues to be my most popular of all time. Ten again,when you consider Brigid in all her holy, strong-willed magnificence, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all.
Hope you enjoy and now,
May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside every wall and door
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy
Bless every foot that walks its portals through
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

So This Priest Walks Into a Bar...

I should like a great lake of beer to give to God.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be tippling there for all eternity.
I should like the men of Heaven to live with me, to dance and sing.
If they wanted I’d put at their disposal vats of suffering
White cups of love I’d give them with a heart and a half.
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer to every man.
I’d make heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make men happy for their own sakes.
I should like Jesus to be there too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather from all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
the three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women of God,
There by the great lake of beer
We’d be drinking good health…

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Every Saint has a Past, Every Sinner has a Future

Yesterday (Nov 1) the Church celebrated All Saints Day. This feast day reminds us of the important fact that we all have the potential to be saints and are indeed called to live into that potential.
So in honor of all the saints, great and small, known and unknown alike, I want to share this past post on saints, their nature and how our preconceptions can get in the way of recognizing them.

So This Priest Walks Into a Bar...

One never knows where inspiration will strike.  As someone who looks for moments of the Divine outside its traditional milieu, I try to stay alert for such things, but at times even I get caught off guard.

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il_570xN.419946369_as8fI was heading towards the checkout line at the local Acme when I noticed the young woman standing in front of me.  Her tank top revealed a multitude of tattoos, none of which were very good.  Yet as I was about to squinch up my nose in displeasure, I noticed the tattoo on her shoulder.  But what struck me was not its quality (it was just a poor as the others) but rather the sentiment that was permanently inscribed there.  It read “Every saint has a past.  Every sinner has a future”

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I stood transfixed, completely absorbed in considering the depth and meaning of those words.  If anything their poor execution made…

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Meeting Metal Matt

I was already a little on edge just walking into the show. A lingering knee sprain from a Gogol Bordello concert meant no mosh pit but even so, I was worried about how I would get along with the crowd who had come to see Behemoth.  Beside that I was on my own which created a certain amount of anxiety all by itself.  Yet there I was, finding a seat in the balcony.  Once I settled in and ordered a beer, my next job was finding a friend or at least a conversation partner.

I looked around for options.  To my right was a couple in their late 20’s with the usual leather, tats and piercings.  Several seats down on my left was big guy sporting a shaved head, lots of ink, a shirt that read “Blackcraft” and a laminated VIP badge.

I opted for door #1.

They were friendly enough.  We chatted about beer and the bands for a while but there was no real connection.  Once that conversation petered out I glanced back to my left.  I’m not a small man (6 ft and 225) but this guy made me feel puny.  He looked like he made his living as a bouncer at some very nasty bars.  Not the most inviting conversation partner to say the least.

So I had to decide… which fear was going to get the better of me?  Was it worse to go through the concert alone?  Or to broach a conversation with a guy who looked like he could kill you just by being a bad mood?

This time I went for door #2.  After the customary “How you doin?” I asked if he was with the band?  Turns out that he was just a fan who had come up extra early for a VIP meet and greet with Behemoth.  In fact he had left early that morning to drive all the way from south of Richmond, VA.  As he shared the experience of meeting Nergal and company and what nice guys they all were, I moved a seat closer.

I welcomed him to Philly and we introduced ourselves. I asked Matt what he was drinking.

“Jack and coke.”

I ordered our next round.  He insisted on getting the next one. While we waited I told him about the opening act, Myrkur, then we discussed other bands we liked.  Like me, Matt has wide-ranging tastes.  He rattled off a long list of genres that on his phone.  My ears perked up when I thought I heard him say “Praise Music” but I let it go.

After some time the conversation drifted from music to our families.  He’s got three kids, all younger than mine.  From there it was an easy segue into the trials and tribulations of parenting.  In addition to working hard as a telecom lineman, Matt also worked hard to instill decency, respect and morality into his kids.

At this point I couldn’t help but circle back.  “Hey Matt, earlier when we were talking about music, did you say you liked praise music?”

“That’s right.”

“So are you a churchgoer?”

“Indeed I am.”

“That’s cool.  I’m an Episcopal priest”

At that point Myrkur took the stage.

Between the sets we talked about Jesus.  We talked about the perceived contradictions of being a Christian and liking metal.  I asked him about the Blackcraft shirt. He said it was pretty much the same thing as liking Behemoth.  He liked the designs and didn’t worry about how others might interpret them.  He knew what he believed and the rest was of little importance.

I respected that.  I’m not sure that, even if I liked it,  I would ever feel comfortable wearing something covered in the symbols of Satanism or black magic, but I admired his sense of himself and his confidence.

So there we were, surrounded by pentagrams, goats heads, 666’s and every other imaginable symbol hostile to Christianity, and we were talking about Jesus and the challenge of trying to raise decent children in the 21st century.

Once the show ended I told him that since he was facing a seven hour drive he was welcome to crash at my place.  He insisted he was fine. Even so, I couldn’t let him leave without partaking of one of Philly great late-night institutions.

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We poured out of the TLA and across the street to Lorenzo’s.  I must admit that it was gratifying when he marveled at the size of slices.  Although the place was mobbed, we were given enough berth to finish our pizza comfortably (one of the perks of looking big and scary I suppose).

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Back out on the street we hugged and then he gave me his VIP lanyard.  I protested but he insisted that he still had plenty of swag to remember the show.  And this way I would have something too.  We exchanged numbers.  Not knowing his last name I just put him under “Metal Matt.”

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Some of my favorite Gospel stories show Jesus finding faith in the most unlikely people- soldiers, lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors.  Time and time again he marvels to find they have more than religious professionals and otherwise upstanding citizens.  When I first saw Matt sitting down the row, I was scared to talk to him.  By the end of the night I was happy to offer him the guest room in my home.  And from a concert that, at least on the surface, was all about celebrating Satan, what I found instead is that faith continues to show up when you least expect it.

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Beer Week, The Brew Off and other Successful Shenanigans

The last six weeks have been exceptionally busy.  I’m pleased to report that all our endeavors were successful both in terms of fun and funds raised.

All Teams

All the brewers and brewsters at the end of the night

The 3rd installment of the Biblical Brew Off saw our biggest crowd yet.  There is no doubt that the women of Team Eve helped to bring many of their own fans which swelled the crowd.  Those present got to sample the seven brews, dine on BBQ and bid on the silent auction while team of judges (Theresa Conroy, Danya Henninger, George Hummel and special guest Jay Brooks) ranked the offerings.

Team Jesus took back the crown but Team Eve took the People’s Choice with their Saison d’Eve.  But the real winners were the charities who split an all-time high of over $2700.

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IMAG01386Beer Week was just as fruitful.  Sarah Weissiger joined Rabbi Eli and myself at Fergie’s for the latest iteration of A Priest, a Minister and a Rabbi Walk into a Bar.  Sarah’s knowledge and humor blended perfectly.  Together we shared our thoughts and mused theological.  The crowd was wonderful and posed heartfelt questions.

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A few days later I took my first turn working behind the bar at the Old Eagle Tavern.  Lew Bryson and I poured beers for a big crowd some of whom were regulars but many of whom came out to support us and the good work of North Light Community Center.

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Note which side of the bar Lew Bryson is on and which side I was on. Thanks Nancy Rigberg for the pic!

I have to say that it’s a lot harder than it looks.  Thankfully Ryan (the regular barkeep) was a good teacher and the patrons were patient (although I was occasionally heckled for being too slow).  Between keeping orders straight in my head and dealing with foamy taps, I was ready for a beer myself by the time it was all over.  All told we raised $275 in tips and Erin kicked in another $200 from the house’s take which meant that North Light Community Center got $475!

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I know- I on the wrong side of the bar yet again but trust me I really did work hard and pour a lot of beers.

The money we raised for charity is great but what is even more important about these events is that they bring people, who otherwise might never meet, together in a way that fosters conversation and helps build common bonds.  There is real power in coming together over a beer and I am truly grateful to have friends that help me harness that power in new and creative ways.

A priest, a minister and a rabbi are walking back into a bar near you!

After a grueling series of auditions that were more rigorous than American Idol and American Ninja combined, Rabbi Eli and I are pleased to announce that we will again have a Protestant minister back in our lineup.

Sarah

 

The Rev. Sarah Weisiger is the pastor of Ivyland Presbyterian Church in Bucks County.  An avid homebrewer and veteran of the Pub Theology movement, she brings a wealth of experience as well as a strong background in biblical and theological scholarship to complete this year’s lineup.

 

We hope you will join us on Sunday, June 5th at Fergies Pub.  The fun starts at 8 pm.  Please bring your questions, sense of humor and a thirst to learn more about the ways in which God and beer interact to make our lives both more meaningful and enjoyable.

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