Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scams on the Internet

This is not my general blog - but important.

Last week my Yahoo email account was hacked and lots of people (more than 300 were  part of emails in that account) thought I was in Scotland - stranded, with no money, no passport, no cell phone, no way to get home and no person that I could call to help me out of the mess I apparently found myself in. Now, lest anyone think that I was in Scotland, please be assured that I was at home. Working. Going to Scotland would be nice - Iona calls me in my dreams - but I don’t have time or money to travel.

But there are parts that worry me:

Quite a few people emailed me to be sure that it was not me - I am happy for their concern. Thank you. Some, though, may have sent money - a dollar or two or five thinking that if I needed it, then they were helping.

This scam revitalizes itself every few (days, months or years) so there must be those who help out. Bless them for their love and concern, but if you read about me being stranded someplace, you would want to hear my voice in your ear before you considered helping in any way. And, then you would have to be family or very close friend before you would get such a call. So ignore any pleas from me. Someone even said my picture was in a photo in Scotland (n a pub? or in a monastery?). Remember, photoshop is available even to those who have nefarious schemes up their collective sleeves.

Another thing that concerns me: all of the email addresses that I had associated with that email account are wiped out (by Yahoo, I am told) so I won’t be able to contact those folk, even with happy news. Telephone still works, so I will use that. But it is interesting that when Yahoo wiped out my online email addresses that also affected email addresses on my iPhone. So those email addresses really are gone.

Another thing: I cannot count all the time that I spent assuring people that I am OK - perhaps this should be in the first concern, but I choose to count it separately. I value the relationships and friendships I have so when an email is sent or a question asked, I take the time to respond. Monday and Tuesday of last week were pretty much a total loss.

To sum this up - I remember being told as a child that if one spent as much time doing something worthwhile as the time invested in doing something shady, the world would be a better place. And it would.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A horse of another color - or, this is not your mama's worship

     In seminary, I took a couple of classes on worship and got to practice putting unusual services together. Out of seminary, one finds that those in the pews like worship the same way each week. No surprises. Once I tried to move us from the sanctuary to the video area using "We Are Marching In the Light of God." The congregation was tolerant and some definitely approved of our change. Then I let it go for two months so people would not be alarmed that we would always march into see a youtube presentation.
     But it was time to try again, so yesterday morning, I moved our whole worship service from the sanctuary to the Great Room (aka Fellowship Hall, we are trying to use inclusive language) so that we could view and discuss a video. The video was on current slave trade in India, though we know it is about current slave trade in the US as well. My purpose, since I could have preached on this, was to invite people to see the video as it defines the problem and then discuss it. Our discussion was lively and engaging and led us to the point of asking what we, a small progressive congregation, can do to make change. (We will contact the governmental agency in New Mexico that is responsible for investigating these abuses.)
     This was the first step - both in terms of addressing a current problem and in terms of using a less formal venue for worship. I think both worked well. I know that two people did not like using the Great Room for this worship though every part of the service was the same as it would have been in the sanctuary. We had fifty-some in worship. A good turnout. Something I noticed: when we sang, choir and congregation, our voices were not lost in the too-large-for-our-congregation sanctuary. Also noticed: I deliberately invited everyone to get coffee and fruit/cookies during our worship service and some did. People told me after that they really enjoyed this service. People smiled, were engaged and stayed to talk about the video for quite awhile after. The extra work of putting this together was worth the effort.
     We will not worship this way every week, but I expect that until we can use video in the sanctuary (there is too much natural light to do it) we will try it once a month or so. Over time, we might grow to like the closeness of the table seating so much that people will ask to come.