My cable company’s attempts to woo me back have become a little comical.

Back in the Phil Hartman era, “Saturday Night Live” did an ad parody on the theme “Come back … to carbon paper.”

It’s a funny premise. With the prevalence of copiers and fax machines (e-mail wasn’t yet a big factor, though it soon would be), it was fun to imagine the Carbon Paper Manufacturers of America banding together to try to woo people back to their hilariously-obsolete and inadequate product.

I think about that sketch sometimes when I go get the mail and there’s an envelope with “Spectrum” written on it.

Last fall, I became a cord-cutter — and…

A county fair blue ribbon validates a newly-acquired hobby and makes me happier than I have any right to be.

It started with vanity, and it has circled back around to vanity.

Last summer, I self-published a little booklet, a faith-based look, suitable for group discussion, about the ways in which we abuse social media. In the middle of the pandemic, holding a book-signing — at my church, the local library, or the local Christian bookstore — was impossible, but I did sign one or two individual copies, and my pastor suggested that maybe we could have a book signing at the church once conditions improved.

For some reason, I decided it would be fun to have a fountain pen…

Ransom United Methodist Church, July 4, 2021

Replica of the Liberty Bell at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee. Photo by me.

This morning’s message is going to be a little different, and I ask you to bear with me. There will be a scripture, but I’ll read it near the end of the message.

Today is the fourth day of July, the day on which we celebrate American independence, the American Revolution, and — most specifically — the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. Thinking about this holiday, and about it falling on a Sunday, I wanted to tell you about the role that the American Revolution played in the establishment of the Methodist church. …

I’ll be out of town, but you should compete in, or offer to help judge, your local ICS chili cookoff.

Last year’s event.

For the second time in the past three years, I’ll be traveling with the youth from my church the second weekend of July and will have to miss Southern Summer Chili Days.

This is always a high point of my summer. I have been a judge more times than I can count — and for me, that often means judging every single ICS category for both days.

I was also a contestant one year. I was disappointed in my entry. I always intended to try again at some point, and before I knew my schedule, I had thought it might…

Ransom United Methodist Church, June 27, 2021

Mark 5:21–43 (CEB)

Jesus crossed the lake again, and on the other side a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders, came forward. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded with him, “My daughter is about to die. Please, come and place your hands on her so that she can be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A swarm of people were following Jesus, crowding in on him. A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a lot under the care…

Just prior to Prime Day, I upgraded both my Echoes. I make no apologies.

This is the 4th Generation Echo, about the size of a cantaloupe. The Echo Dot upstairs is about the size of a softball.

This is not a sponsored or compensated post and contains no affiliate links.

It was in the fall of 2018 that I took the smart speaker plunge.

I know some people are made queasy by smart speakers. But even before 2018, I did enough with Amazon, Google and Facebook that they probably already knew more than they wanted to know about me. I figured a smart speaker could not make things much worse.

I started with an Amazon Echo, which was then in what Amazon classifies as its 2nd Generation model. I put it in my living room. I was…

In which nature, and my fridge, abhor a vaccum

By uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs —, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Today, and tomorrow, I am a delegate to the last-ever Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Normally, the conference is held in person, but for Obvious Reasons, it was held online last year and is being held online again this year — the only two years I’ve been a voting delegate.

I have been to in-person conferences in the past; in fact, I was the first lay speaker ever to preach a mini-sermon at one past annual conference. But what I attended in the past were the worship-heavy evening sessions, not the business sessions held during the day.

Apparently not — but it may depend on the phlebotomist

AfroBrazilian, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

If I were choosing a doctor today, there are several fine choices in Shelbyville with whom I’d be completely comfortable— including my Dad’s doctor.

But when my family first moved to Bedford County in the early 1970s, my parents had a bad experience with a local doctor and started taking my siblings and me to a pediatrician in Murfreesboro. When I needed a physical for college, I went to that pediatrician’s father, who was a general practitioner and the founder of the clinic where they both worked. A few years after college, the first time I needed a doctor as…

Kelley’s Chapel United Methodist Church, May 30, 2021

John 3:1–17 (CEB)

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”

Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”

Jesus answered, “I assure…

I’m headed back to Lake Junaluska. Do not ask me to get in an innertube.

In 2016 — although I refuse to believe it was that long ago — the youth from First United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, Tenn., traveled to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, and I was one of the chaperones.

Lake Junaluska, at North Carolina’s western perimeter, is a community centered around several United Methodist facilities. There is a retreat and conference center, a World Methodist Museum, and a number of privately-owned homes, B&Bs, and what have you. A number of United Methodist clergy retire to Lake Junaluska. There is, of course, a lake, and other recreational facilities.

In 2016, Alden Procopio (now…

John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at

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