Those Ads

My blogging platform of choice is WordPress. The ‘price’ I pay for using the ‘free’ version of WordPress is that occasional advertisements get placed in my posts.


WordPress says that this is done ‘sparingly’, but I still wish they did not do it at all. Of course, WordPress has employees who, like the rest of us, like to pay their mortgages on time. So, I get it. I still prefer the ads would go away.

This could happen if I upgraded the site from it’s current ‘free’ to ‘premium’ status. That way the nice folks at WordPress can afford toothpaste without cluttering Somber and Dull with ads for the same. As a bonus, it would make me happy for a number of other reasons.

And yet, the cost to do this, on top of the other costs associated with this site, is more than I can justify. Which brings me to the pitch:

Perhaps there are some of you who might like to climb on board and help this site stay clean, neat, afloat, and ad free. To that end, I’ve opened a site for those who would like to contribute to Somber and Dull. If you follow that link and make a contribution, I can get closer to the $99 needed to subscribe to their service. That would encourage me, the ads would go away, and WordPress employees would still be able to buy their kids’ birthday presents. That’s good all the way around.

Contributions small and large can be made by clicking here. All will go to the support of this site. Amounts received in excess of $99 (a guy can dream, right?) will be used to offset other site related expenses, current and future.

And I just realized what I’ve done. I’ve placed an ad hoping to get rid of ads. I love irony.


“How many 13 year-old girls does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

That was the question that I used to ask one of my daughters when she was 13. I’ll let you think about the answer.

Recently a few members of my family were sitting in the backyard enjoying each others company, laughing, telling stories, roasting marshmallows. For some reason, I started asking Siri, Apple’s iPhone answer lady, questions, including this one: “How many Presbyterians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

“One thousand.” Siri promptly replied. “One to screw in the lightbulb and 999 to blog about it”

Perhaps we’d had too much beer; perhaps we were just drunk on the refreshment of being with each other. Whatever it might have been, we thought that was just about the funniest thing. Typing it now, it seems a bit dull. Nevertheless, it serves as a good foil for this post.

There have been a few who have wondered where I’ve gone. My last serious post to this blog was in May, 2015, and prior to that, posts have been spotty.

My answer is that I’ve been screwing in lightbulbs and leaving the blogging about it to others. At least that is what I like to think.Coming soon

There are those who have though continued to encourage me to write, and to write for this blog. I’ve certainly continued to generate ideas and consider issues I’d like to write about. That what I’ve written in the past has been to some degree helpful to some people does suggest that a blog is perhaps useful work. And yet it often asks for time that I do not think I have.

But the urging is having its effect. So with quite a bit of trepidation, I am rebooting the Somber and Dull blog. My goal at the outset will be no more than one post every week or two. Several are in an active queue; several hundred sit sketched and neglected. Time has been budgeted for developing a few of those, and so we will see where this goes.

I will try to be faithful to this. You will encourage that faithfulness by your comments and by directing others to read with you. I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.

And I’ll still screw in lightbulbs, just not as easily as my then 13 year-old daughter, who could do it all by herself:

“Just one. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her.”

That’s Puzzling

Two odd posts have appeared on the fallow, neglected ground of Somber and Dull over the past couple of weeks. Posts that seem to have caused a bit of consternation.

Typical of the responses I’ve gotten is this one from a dear friend:

I must be doing something wrong. When I click on the “3” nothing happens. If I click on the URL below your signature, it takes me to the blog post, but nothing happens when I click on the “3”. Usually I can figure these things out but I’m not having much luck and I’d really like to see what you’re up to. 🙂 In a word….. HELP!!!

It’s gratifying that there is interest, and somewhat unsettling that this has been the cause of distress! So, a couple of thoughts here to help ease the angst:

  1. Please don’t try to find any content in these posts beyond the graphics.
  2. Notice that what posted last week was titled ‘4’ and that what was posted this week was titled ‘3’. If you spot any progression, take note of it. Extrapolation is welcome.
  3. Enjoy, if you can, puzzling out the significance of the graphics posted under each head.Red puzzle piece hi But don’t lose sleep over it. It will all become clear soon enough.

So(m)ber and Dull

Stephen Kumalo, as far as I know, never existed. He is the fictional Zulu Anglican priest in Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country. His faithfulness, his integrity, and his suffering there portrayed have been qualities which have endeared him to me. And if, in fact, he never existed, his kind nevertheless exists in pastors who are like him in character and work laboring in obscurity throughout the world. So, I honor him and those he represents in naming this blog after the qualities ascribed to him in Paton’s novel, a further explanation of which can be found here.

But there is apparently a problem.

Recently I received an email bearing an urgent message. Someone had both discovered my blog AND discovered the novel from which the blog’s name arose. This led to my correspondent’s bewilderment:

I regret to inform that a rather serious and mildly amusing matter has come to my attention. Your blog is titled somber and dull and on it you cite cry the beloved country as inspiration, however I am currently reading said book and having found the quote you reference, and I’m afraid to say that it in fact reads “sober and rather dull”. Note that’s sober not somber. I don’t know how you wish to proceed from here but whatever choice you make I will support.

I chuckled at his erroneous reading. Even though he attached a photo of the page, it was clearly from a different edition of the novel than is standard. In order to clarify for him his error, I looked up the reference in my own edition.

IMG 20141229 205642

Of course, you will have by now surmised that he was not the one in error. I stared at the page. I laughed at the oddity of it all. I puzzled over what to do.

Sober though I may have been the day I chose the title for this blog, I made a mistake that has led to the naming of this blog and my ownership of the domain “”! The ripples are many.

At least one person over the past number of years has assumed from the title that I’m writing about depression. I easily dissuaded him of his notion. But if I changed the title to ‘Sober and Dull’ to reflect an accurate reading of the novel, I’m certain there would be those, many perhaps, who would assume that I am a recovering alcoholic or addict writing about recovery, and unhappy recovery at that.

So, it’s best to make no changes. I will, however, ponder the unhappy fact that over the years I seemed to have inspired at most only ONE person to read the novel. Alas. I may have to toss down a couple glasses of wine to process such a somber realization and with that we could toss out the notion of sobriety.


I once thought I was compelled to write. Perhaps that was once true; perhaps it is still. But it is little visible.

I write a lot, of course. I tell seminary students I encounter who are grousing over their next paper that as a pastor my minimum writing load is one 4000+ word essay each week, due every Sunday at 11:00 AM. And it can never be turned in late. So, I do write a lot. But there is a lot that I’d like to write that I never write, and the list keeps growing. I guess I’m at most a compulsive list maker.

I’ve tried to explain in these pages the obstacles I face so there is no need to revisit those tedious considerations. Just know I’m still here, and I’m still planning to make a return.

What’s lacking is not the compulsion, but the discipline, a lack with which most writers are more than familiar. It’s necessity is often noted. Perhaps John Updike is speaking most clearly to my situation:

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. (John Updike)


Life Goes On; Blogging Struggles to Keep Up

The dates on the page don’t lie.

The last post here was posted over two months ago. Were Somber and Dull a pet, I should be arrested for neglect if not abuse. What followers I might once have had have no doubt determined that I am sick, dying, or dead, and have drifted off to more verdant fields. I would not blame them.

What has happened?

The life of a pastor is an erratic and unpredictable thing. Rare is the day that plays out as scheduled. And the life of a father of six can be disorderly, even though only one still requires any direct oversight. Life has pressed hard against my order-loving soul, and this blog has been a victim.

It has not helped that we have had to move. Quickly.

Shortly after leasing our house in 2010, the landlord was foreclosed upon. The house, which had been in limbo since, was sold to Fannie Mae on September 3 of this year. That we had to move out by October 6 we discovered September 23rd.

We have done what we have had to do, and there has been little margin time for other things. Now that I few margins are returning, I hope at least to restore this blog to some regularity.

I hope to restore it for the sake of the discipline of writing. A point frequently made, which I first heard from a crusty old college professor, is that those who want to write need to write. Daily. All the time. With discipline. I have lost, or at least misplaced, that discipline. I want it back.

Oddly, and humbly, I confess that there are those who have told me that they have found this blog (occasionally, at least) helpful. I do apologize to you for my silence. To some degree I see this as an extension of my ministry which I’ve neglected so that in a sense I see that I have neglected you.

I may not have much to say, but I have much to write (there is a difference). If you are among those who find what I write helpful, entertaining, or even diversionary, then pray with me that my discipline might stick.

I’ve learned long ago to make few promises. But my intentions are good. We’ll see where this leads.