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63 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Continuing to pray for work for you, Michael.

    Thanks for the plug again…sorry it is a recycled article from last year, but it still felt right. My awareness grows for people who really struggle through the holidays. Dad this year is heading to the ranch for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and mom will have no awareness at all that it is anything different. Christmas of my childhood was wonder-filled, and I the depth of the wonder makes the loss of her mind so stark in these seasons.

    Writing helps, though.

  2. PP Vet says:

    When I was a child, I never went out to eat. My children, on the other hand, go out for sushi, and go to first-run movies instead of the dollar theater. They show me how to make “good” coffee.

    My wife’s hobby is making Atkins delicacies.

    I am having trouble adjusting to not being poor.

    109 people on this blog, and I am the only one doing anything? Feels like church!

  3. Alan Hawkins says:


    Church is a lot more active…

  4. Dude says:

    The ACA farce is just begining.I did some reasearch over this new program and it looks bleak.Tried to be fair about it yet…….

  5. Jim says:

    Hillary will fix the ACA and we can be France. I’ll go Galt.

  6. PP Vet says:

    Things tough for Prez O. He asked Hillary if she would be willing to start early.

  7. Jim says:

    Even the mainstream press, which has in recent years carried water in an unprecedented manner, is sick of the current imperial presidency.

  8. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    At a suprise baby shower waiting for the mommy to show up

  9. London says:

    Had a great time doing our annual food box drive today.
    A mere drop in the bucket compare to what others are doing for sure. But fun none the less

  10. erunner says:

    Church was taking donations to send to the Philippines due to the typhoon. The pastor became aware that a member had lost four family members due to the typhoon so the donations are going to her family who are in a horrible situation. God’s people are so good and caring.

  11. To me this is the best Christmas album ever!

    I also enjoy Mannheim Steamroller’s first two Christmas albums.
    Favorite song of those albums is “Veni,veni”

    Anyone got a favorite christmas song/album? or tired of Christmas songs altogether?

  12. PP Vet says:

    Priceless Onion piece. A message that could help rethink our own mission.,34623/

  13. LurkieLoo says:

    brian, you asked for input about equipment to help the disabled. Check out The inventor is a SpEd teacher (and Christian) in Sonoma. We use them quite a bit in my district for students in wheelchairs, kids with autism, ADD, etc. He sells directly but also does presentations at local clubs (Rotary, Elks, Lions, etc.), and they purchase and donate to schools.

    I also wanted to say I appreciate your posts so much. Often it’s just what I need to hear. You are so tenderhearted and real, and I hope that made you squirm a little 🙂

  14. brian says:

    PP vet I laughed for over five minutes that was truly funny I love the onion. I get a real kick when people post their satire as reality and rail against the onion fully if unwittingly making their point.

  15. brian says:

    Thanks Lurkieloo that is quite helpful and extremely kind of you to say. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. PS Sanoma is way ahead of the curve on adaptive equipment way back in the early 80’s I had interactions with Sonoma and later in the 80’s Sonoma developmental center. Thanks for the link. God bless.

  16. brian says:

    London thanks for doing the food boxes, I am not really affiliated with a church for now though I am working on it. The safeway near me has a very good relationship with the local food bank and they allow us to purchase bags of food that are then distributed. The mount of food they give is far more than the price of each bag. Its not much but I hope it helps.

  17. Ricky Bobby says:

    Cool! Good to see this. I think it won’t be long until this takes hold for good. “Church” is as much a business as any other business…time to tax it like one.

  18. Hey, as long as those greedy big pastors catch it.
    After all, the big pastors make a huge salary and can take a hit.

    Poor pastors, not so much.

    What a crock!
    But the usual suspects, you know like “Freedom From Religion Foundation” that brought the lawsuit will cheer.
    The usual atheists, agnostics and RB’s will be in glee.
    Of course is there any difference between RB and them.
    Not from the claptrap I hear on here.

  19. Sounds like a violation of the 1st Amendment to me.

    “Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

  20. And for some balance.

    Russell D. Moore says:
    “The clergy housing allowance isn’t a government establishment of religion, but just the reverse. The allowance is neutral to all religions. Without it, clergy in small congregations of all sorts would be penalized and harmed.”

    Here is how “stupid logic” looks like in action.

    Atheists: This is unfair because only religious organizations get to partake of this exemption.

    So, do we take away all exemptions because of that, like ones for clean energy and for homeowners?
    After all, not everyone owns a Prius or owns a home.

  21. For those who need to actually know what an exemption is. From Merriam-Webster:

    ex·emp·tion noun \ig-ˈzem(p)-shən\
    : freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do

    Note the word others. Exemption always includes some and excludes others.

  22. Since it is Thanksgiving time, I will go for a turkey, 5 in a row…not sure if that is right, maybe PPVet can enlighten me on the rules on that.

    I listened to some of that album on Youtube, London. It is pretty good.

  23. stupid says:

    RB lasted, what, 3 days?

  24. London says:

    The beauty of living in America is you don’t have to be associated with a church to help others 😉

  25. London says:

    Yes, it is good. Different from a lot of Christmas albums.
    I found it at Starbucks one year and got it on an impulse buy.
    Enjoy it every year.

  26. Ricky Bobby says:

    5 days on the blogging.

    Beer-fast still going, no problem there.

  27. filbertz says:

    I’ve picked up the slack for RB’s fast with my own ‘fest.’ 🙂

    I’m always amused when people suggest that the best way to deal with people they don’t like is to tax them…then speak out the other side of their piehole with ‘there are too many taxes!’ Locally, there are a number of hard-core anti-bicycling drivers whose ‘solution’ is to require bikers to register their bikes with the state, pay a tax for using the road, and carry liability insurance. With a trifecta like that, their wrath knows no bounds. 🙂

    Christmas music before the 20th of December grates on my nerves. I sat through an entire dinner out last week listening to it a full week and a half before thanksgiving. Bah Humbug.

    One the brighter side, we are catering a congregational Thanksgiving meal for a local church late this afternoon.


  28. Ricky Bobby says:

    Fil, the ideal is lower taxation for all…but it’s not fair to tax all businesses except churches which are as much a business as anything else.

  29. Ricky Bobby says:

    Maybe if churches and pastors paid their fair share, the rest of us wouldn’t be taxed as much. We have to pick up their slack.

  30. Nor much of an ideal of lower taxation for all, if you want some to share more of the burden.
    But, that is alright, we all know it is personal with you.
    You have no clear perspective on this.

  31. filbertz says:

    the best way to lower taxes is to trim govt. spending, not tax a broader range of people.

  32. A FAQ about the Minister’s Housing Allowance.

    Important to this is that most ministers are not megachurch pastors and need this break from taxes.

  33. If all anyone’s eyes are seeing is the megachurch pastor, then you need to look around and see all the small churches around that struggle.
    These churches have many faithful pastors who go through burdens of being on the edge of poverty all their lives.
    But some would throw them to dogs in their crusade against the big names.

    I would rather see the big name corrupt people get the break in taxes also, than deny all those hardworking, long-suffering faithful pastors this exemption.

    And that is all I have to say on that subject.

  34. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    The idea that pastors as a group have the money that will somehow be a “fair share” in the fiscal systems we have seems too optimistic. It wouldn’t matter if everything pastors did was taxed at this point, the spending seems to be out of any proportion to the revenue that could be raised by the people available.

  35. Steve Wright says:

    Let’s assume the church offers zero economic benefit to society and the tax burdens of society.That absolutely no financial help to the poor is taking place. That the gospel of Christ working through the local church never has helped a person turn their life around from a destiny of imprisonment, or government welfare, or drug or alcohol abuse and their related costs to a government. That the local church never helps people find work, or get trained with a job skill. That the local church has absolutely zero impact on making (or keeping someone) as a productive (and tax-paying) member of society.

    I don’t assume any of this, but the church-haters like those found at the blog RB reads do. So I’ll grant their point for the sake of argument.

    The number one rule of taxation, is that the more you tax something the less of that something you will get. That rule has never been violated in human history.

    So, you want to tax pastors more, the less pastors you will have. Now again, those connected to that blog RB reads would say ‘Good riddance” – but at the end of the day, pastoring is work – and if you want to put a whole lot of pastors out of work, then society will be expected to pay the costs associated with poverty and unemployment just as with anyone else.

    Now, a local church may not “pay taxes” but they sure do a lot of things that add to the tax revenues of the area. Each week even a small church has to buy a bunch of routine supplies, churches hire contractors and vendors, helping them make a payroll and so forth. You eliminate a lot of pastors, you will eliminate many small churches – which from just a tax-aspect is stupid and counter-productive.

    As far as the mega-churches. Sure changing the housing allowance won’t end those churches. But the number one rule still applies. Mega-churches have multiple pastors on staff and so you can expect a few of them to lose their jobs in order to pay the new higher taxes on the other pastors who remain. So you can expect society to pay the costs of that new unemployment through additional taxes from somewhere else.

    The law on housing allowance has already been modified over a decade ago. The amount is limited to the LOWER of actual expenses OR fair rental value.

    And as far as the double-dipping comment in that article. Here is another aspect to double-dipping. Pastors are treated as employees as to the various laws of the land (workers comp etc), EXCEPT when it comes to housing allowance where they are treated as self-employed so the government can collect from the pastor double in payroll tax what a regular employee would pay out of his compensation.

  36. Let’s be real here. RB hates pastors and everything he does and says is just to strike out at pastors. It has no place in reality – does anyone here think that RB cares about raising taxes … heck no. But then again, I have a 5 yr old granddaughter who does the same.

  37. The NFL’s popularity is remarkable when you inspect the fare it has to offer each week on television. An average professional football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, but if you tally up the time when the ball is actually in play, the action amounts to a mere 11 minutes.

  38. brian says:

    I disagree with the courts decision, if Atheists and others feel it is discriminatory then maybe a provision for councilors or secular workers recognized by some group working in secular services to help society could be given the same type of break. A simpler answer would be to tax pastors that are making over a certain amount or who have a home that is far above the standard range. Pastors for the most part barely make it and do do a great deal of work in the community. That goes for people of other faith groups that get the same allowance if I am correct.

  39. stupid says:

    filbertz, How about some Thanksgiving music? I like The Little Drumstick Boy, Away in a Mayflower and O Little Town of Plymouth Rock. There are more 😉

  40. stupid says:

    Derek, My fave Manheim Steamroller song is Los Peces en el rio. Beautiful!

  41. stupid (and late) says:

    “Maybe if churches and pastors paid their fair share, the rest of us wouldn’t be taxed as much. We have to pick up their slack.” What a crock!

  42. stupid says:

    Davidsurfer- and if it’s a tie you haven’t missed anything. 😉

  43. stupid, late, and very tired says:

    My favorite Thanksgiving carol is Glory In Excess Buffet-O. Cmon everyone. let’s sing “Oh, wring those turkey’s necks. Wring those turkey’s necks. While their eyes grow wider we’ll sip some pumpkin cider, so wring those turkey’s necks. We used to sing songs like these whilst trimming the turkey. Such fun!

  44. Steve Wright says:

    One thing I did not mention is that a whole lot of churches actually rent their locations. That means there is a landlord somewhere – getting paid taxable income from the church. This is especially true for the smaller churches where something like this would hurt the local pastor the most, especially those pastors who are bi-vocational to make ends meet to begin with. If such a church closes its doors, who replaces that landlord’s income…and the lost taxes his income generated?

    As far as the churches that do own their buildings, they may not pay property taxes in the general assessment sense, but they do pay for various services and utilities, like the street lights or the trash pickup, or the water and electricity.

    In either case, there always seems to be some magical thinking on the part of big government tax and spend folks that if the non-tax-paying churches were not there, in their place would be some super prosperous business serving thousands of customers and generating buckets of tax revenue.

    When the reality is you would have an abandoned, deteriorating building or some landlord with a “for rent” sign out there – as if we don’t have enough of those already in most cities.

    And have you ever noticed when you drive through a prosperous suburban community (i.e. high-tax-paying resident) that such people who can usually decide just about anywhere they might want to live, tend to want not just some community parks (which are even worse than churches when it comes to the tax argument) but also a lot of nice churches. Somehow the people who run THOSE cities seems to see the benefit to offering churches for those who reside there. And unlike the park, the city does not have to pay maintenance to keep the churches going.

  45. brian says:

    Maybe we could cut back on some corporate tax cuts but then that affects jobs and growth. Maybe the government could cut back on expenditures or rethink how it does business. It is all one big web. I do think it is a mistake to tax faith based groups worship centers much of those are used for great good from my experience. I think it can be sort of a canard to broad brush any segment of the population. I am not good at putting things and ideas into words. Take care all.

  46. PP Vet says:

    Good points, SW.

  47. brian says:

    I dont know how accurate this is but if it is, then the average pastor salary is over 2 times + more then I make.

  48. Steve Wright says:

    Brian, did you notice that is in Santa Clara? In the heart of Silicon Valley? Not sure where you live, but that is one of the richest areas in the country.

    Small homes that are 60 years old there would cost 600-800K and anything newer or larger is going to easily be over a million dollars.

    But it does make a point why even capping the housing allowance is tricky. Should there not be churches in Santa Clara? and if so should the pastors be allowed to own a home for their wife and children like anyone else, and if so should they not be penalized because they live in such an expensive area.

    Most here would agree, including me, that any pastor living in a million dollar home in a neighborhood filled with homes significantly LESS than that amount should not get a full advantage of the tax benefit for housing allowance. So it is easy to say, let the IRS cap housing allowance at a certain level.

    But an average pastor in an expensive area should not be punished either.

    And that is why in addition to the lesser of actual expenses OR fair rental value, the third test is what the Board of Directors actually authorizes. A Board of Directors could certainly say to a pastor who wanted to live in the most expensive house on the block that they would not vote a full housing allowance. What the pastor does with his taxable salary or other taxable income then is his call.

    But stop and think now just how few cases we really are talking about – percentage wise – compared to all the pastors who benefit from this tax break. And how having the IRS come in and destroy it all is certainly not the answer for anyone who cares at all about churches in our country…which admittedly is not everyone. Haters gonna hate.

  49. Bob says:

    Yep if it weren’t for those pastoral tax breaks the USA wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt.

    RB I thought you were of superior intelligence and above all of stupid people like me.

    Steve W.

    Don’t waste your typing fingers on this low ball comment.

  50. filbertz says:

    Deep Purple Jello’s “Smoke From the Oven” is pretty good as is Breast Springsteen’s “Born in the USDA.” I can stomach Chicago’s “Saturday in the Pork” and the Eagle’s “Hotel Cauliflower.”

  51. brian says:

    Pastor Steve I live right in the middle of it, the rents in non rent controlled areas are 2500- 5000+. We were lucky to get our mobile home after we lost our house after the earthquake which damaged our house. We wound up having to sell it and took a bath. It took all I had to pay this off and they will be selling the prime land soon along with the other two senior mobile home parks in the community. They want to build micro units 200-300 sq foot for 2K+ to start. I had to help my parents out and my sister along with her son most of my adult life. So ya I do know about the silicon valley. Other then the rent control I get no break on taxes of any kind. I have had my pay cut by about 35-40 percent mostly through reduced hours and my workload has doubled.

  52. brian says:

    by the way I agree with your assessment about expensive areas etc. I do get a little emotional about this because I use to take such grief from some Christians about the fact I worked for the government and as a teacher. They basically told me I was a thief and that was the kinder words. That was only a few people and they had some real issues with the government so I give them a great deal of grace, we are all crazy in a way. It was sort of like when I go on my rants, they were just ranting and were actually very kind people just deeply scared by the changes in the world. I hope that explains it more accurately.

  53. stu says:

    LOL @ Born in the USDA. How about God Rest Ye merry Pilgrim Survivors or Joy to the new World? And we always finished the evening with the Orthodoxology.

  54. from Leonard Cohen…

    If it be your will
    That I speak no more
    And my voice be still
    As it was before
    I will speak no more
    I shall abide until
    I am spoken for
    If it be your will

    If it be your will
    That a voice be true
    From this broken hill
    I will sing to you
    From this broken hill
    All your praises they shall ring
    If it be your will
    To let me sing
    From this broken hill
    All your praises they shall ring
    If it be your will
    To let me sing

    If it be your will
    If there is a choice
    Let the rivers fill
    Let the hills rejoice
    Let your mercy spill
    On all these burning hearts in hell
    If it be your will
    To make us well

    And draw us near
    And bind us tight
    All your children here
    In their rags of light
    In our rags of light
    All dressed to kill
    And end this night
    If it be your will

    If it be your will.

  55. Nonnie says:

    I’m at Los Angeles airport awaiting an 11 hour flight home . Prayers appreciated. (If my children and grandchildren didn’t live 5000 miles from me I would never fly,).

  56. You got it, Nonnie.

  57. stu says:

    You say I took the name in vain
    I don’t even know the name
    But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
    There’s a blaze of light in every word
    It doesn’t matter which you heard
    The holy or the broken Hallelujah

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