About DrTony

A chemist and a lay preacher - science and faith shared in diverse world.

“I Dreamed of a Church: Christ’s Representative”


This will be the “back page” for the 19 March 2017, 3rd Sunday of Lent (A), bulletin at Fishkill UMC.  The reading for this Sunday comes from Matthew 25.  I have told this story before but it speaks to the point of our participation in someone else’s baptism.

I have been fortunate to have been directly involved in the baptism of several individuals, both as a pastoral assistant and as a member of the family.  Perhaps the greatest joy was when I presented Casey, my granddaughter, and George, my grandson, to the congregation on the day of their baptisms.

But the story that strikes a chord with me is not my story but rather that of a current United Methodist pastor.  At the time of this story, this pastor-to-be was a bouncer in a local bar (which seems to be the career path of choice these days).  He was present at the baptism as the result of a direct command from his sister.  So, he came to church that Sunday morning after a rather long night at his regular job.  At the end of the service, one of the “saints” of the church saw that he was desperately searching for a cup of coffee and directed him to the church’s Fellowship Hall.

A few weeks later he found the bulletin for that Sunday in his coat pocket.  With the remembrance that someone had shown him some kindness, he returned to that church on his own accord.  Shortly afterwards, he made the decision to accept Christ as his Savior and he was baptized.

As it turns out, there was more to this than simply accepting the call to follow Christ.  It began a journey that has lead to becoming a minister in the United Methodist Church.

We all take part in the baptism of an individual.  In our participation, we welcome friends and strangers.  And while we never know how this will all turn out, we need to understand that one time someone offered a cup of coffee to a stranger and a life was changed.                                                – Tony Mitchell

How has baptism changed your life?


Here are my thoughts for the 2nd Sunday in Lent (A), 12 March 2017.  They are based on Psalm 13.  This is also part of the Fishkill UMC “Back Pages” series.


I have talked and written about my own baptism on a number of occasions; I have also included a discussion about a baptism that didn’t take place (See “My Two Baptisms” for what happened then; I will be addressing that topic again later in this Lenten series.)

To answer the question posted as the title to the post, It is safe to say that had I not been baptized, I would not be here today.  But because of when I was baptized, a path was set before me that I would, sometimes knowingly but often unknowingly, follow all my life.

My parents understood what my baptism meant and they made sure that I walked a path that would eventually allow me to understand it baptism meant.

There was a time in my life that I have come to call “my wilderness period.”  Life was rough during this period but I never felt lost.  Perhaps it was because the Holy Spirit was a part of life, even if I did not know it.

But when I more fully recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, I knew had to do some things, things that have lead me to this place and time.  I was lucky; I knew that God was there and all I had to do was look.

The Psalmist knew what it was like to be lost and out of God’s site.  He welcomed being able to be in God’s Grace once again.

Our baptism is never the end of the journey but its beginning.  For some, it sets the path they will follow; for others, it offers a new path.

Baptism represents an opportunity for all.

Performance Reviews


I am reposting this because I think it is needed, though we may cry rather than laugh when we think of the situation we are in.


This is somewhere out there in the ether but I wanted to put it anyway (some at CarTalk)

The following comments are said to have been included in actual performance reviews (the source seems to vary according):

  • A gross ignoramus — 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.
  • A photographic memory but the lens cap glued on.
  • A prime candidate for natural deselection.
  • Donated his brain to science before he was done using it.
  • Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t running.
  • Got a full six-pack but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.
  • Has two brains:  One is lost and the other is out looking for it.
  • He brings a lot of joy when he leaves the room.
  • He certainly takes a long time to make his pointless.
  • He doesn’t have ulcers, but he’s a carrier.
  • He has carried out each and every one of his duties to his entire satisfaction.
  • He has the wisdom of youth, and the energy of old age.
  • Sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
  • He would argue with a signpost.
  • He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.
  • His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.
  • I would like to go hunting with him sometime.
  • I would not breed from this officer.
  • If he were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.
  • If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’d get change.
  • If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he’s the other one.
  • If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean.
  • In my opinion this pilot should not be authorized to fly below 250 feet.
  • One neuron short of a synapse
  • Since my last report he has reached rock bottom, and has started to dig.
  • Some drink at the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled.
  • Takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes.
  • Technically sound, but socially impossible.
  • The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.
  • This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
  • Is really not so much of a has been, but more of a definitely won’t be.
  • This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better.
  • This medical officer has used my ship to carry his genitals from port to port, and my officers to carry him from bar to bar.
  • This officer reminds me very much of a gyroscope: always spinning around at a frantic pace, but not really going anywhere.
  • This young lady had delusions of adequacy.
  • When he joined my ship, this officer was something of a granny; since then he has aged considerably.
  • When his I. Q. reaches 50, he should sell.
  • When she opens her mouth, it seems that is only to change feet.
  • Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.

“I Saw the Light”


This is an expanded version of what appears on the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for 26 February 2017 (Transfiguration Sunday [A]).

One of the thing that I was thinking about was the song “I Saw the Light”.  This is a country-gospel song that was written by Hank Williams (which I think most people didn’t know).

When I began teaching, I knew the subjects that I was teaching (chemistry and other physical sciences) and I was learning how to teach.  But as this was all taking place, I found myself thinking about how my students learned chemistry.

We all learn in different ways and at different rates.  And, as an instructor, I am tasked with helping each student reach that point of understanding; that point we call the “AHA! Moment”.  It is that moment, and we all have had such moments in our own lives, when we understand what we are learning.  This is a major moment in our lives because it takes us past simply “knowing” the right answer to understanding why it is the right answer.

I don’t think that it makes a difference whether we are speaking about secular or sectarian learning.  And while I realize that this moment of understanding is different for each person, our educational process, both secular and sectarian, must be directed towards helping each person reach that moment of enlightenment.

And I realize that achieving this moment requires a great deal of effort, both by the teacher and by the student.  How many times did we get the feeling that Jesus was frustrated by the lack of learning exhibited by the 12.  They were his primary students and yet, time and time again, they didn’t seem to get the point of the lesson.

That is, until the First Easter and the Resurrection.  Then they understood and when the Holy Spirit came to them on that First Pentecost, they became empowered to take the Gospel message into the world.

John Wesley knew what was needed but until that moment that we call Aldersgate, he didn’t quite understand how to achieve what he sought.  The success of the Methodist Revival only began when the Holy Spirit warmed his heart and he understood who Christ truly was.

For Peter, James, and John, that moment was on the Mount with Jesus; for Paul, it was that moment on the road to Damascus.

Each of us has that same moment, that point when we understand that Christ is our Savior.  Each person’s moment of understanding, of seeing the light is unique and we should never try to force our moment on others.  But, we can and must help others find their moment.

Today marks the day that the Disciples began to see the light.  Their lives began to change.  Each of us has that moment; that moment when we realize that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior.  And this gives us the opportunity to begin helping others find their moment.


One of the “themes” for Lent this year is our journey to baptism.  To that end, I came up with these questions.

I would be interested in your thoughts about these questions.

5 March 2017 – “Child of God: Naming Each Other” – Who are you named after?

12 March 2017 – “How Long: Renouncing Evil” – How has baptism changed your life?

19 March 2017 – “I Dream of a Church: Christ’s Representative” – What was it like to be a part of someone else’s baptism?

26 March 2017 – “I Choose Love: Communities of Forgiveness” – How do you feel when you watch someone else gets baptized?

2 April 2017 – “God Has Work for Us to Do: Faithful Disciples” – What does it meant to be baptized?

9 April 2017 – “The Day Is Coming: We Are One”– What comes after baptism?

Monthly Clergy Letter Project Newsletter


The new issue of Clergy Project Newsletter is now available on-line. I urge you all to check this out as it has information related to the teaching of science and academic freedom.

Some very interesting comments about the 2017 Evolution Weekend and what this all means for science education in the coming years.

No matter whether you are clergy or laity, I urge you to check it out and get involved in the project.

Education in the 21st Century


Oh, I don’t know but this seems rather appropriate this morning.  From the Gospel of John (as translated by Clarence Jordan), we read

“If y’all stick by what I’ve said, you are honest followers of mine.  You’ll understand the truth, and the truth will liberate you.”

And from George Bernard Shaw, we read

“Some men see things as they are and ask why.  Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

This is the quote that President Kennedy referred to in his speech to the Irish Parliament in 1963 and was often used by his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, during his 1968 Presidential campaign.  Senator Kennedy also said in 1964,

To say that the future will be different from the present is, to scientists, hopelessly self-evident. I observe regretfully that in politics, however, it can be heresy. It can be denounced as radicalism, or branded as subversion. There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.

You cannot dream of things that never were, you cannot have a vision of the future, or even be free without education.  And education must be more than the memorization and recall of facts but the active experience of learning, of seeking and of finding.