I, for one, am excited that Portland now has a new church that has gained a mostly positive moment in the media spotlight.

I’m glad to see the enthusiasm for Next Level Church and I celebrate that they are attracting a younger crowd with their band, music and very practical and relevant messages. I think it’s awesome!

It’s been interesting watching the news and reading the newspaper accounts focusing mostly on a pastor who wears jeans, the use of media on a big screen and a rocking band playing great music that connects with younger people.

The attention is great. But, I wonder if the media is aware of some creative churches in Greater Portland? Have you heard of the church that meets in the movie theater, Stroudwater Christian Church? LifeChurch in Gorham, with its practical approach and community life?

You’ll probably see a pastor wearing jeans at South Coast Community Church. Missio Dei Church is building a great community. Galilee Baptist has teenagers coming. A group from Windham Baptist just got back from Haiti. I could go on and list churches where people find communities of people who care. The picket-waving church is a rarity even though it gets plenty of media attention.

If you haven’t been to church in years and think all churches are stuffy institutions gridlocked by tradition, it’s time to take another look and visit.

Whether you find comfort in tradition or are energized by the edgy, there’s a church community for you. From robe-wearing liturgists to jeans-wearing Bible teachers, from hymns and choirs to rock bands, there are places focusing on the love of God where you can find belonging and learn with others.

Welcome, Portland Next Level Church! Thanks for sparking new conversations.

Scott Linscott

Portland

 

Praises aplenty due for Malaga Island apologies

 

There have been many moments of well-deserved pride, in Maine’s history. Bill Nemitz reported a wonderful example when Gov. Baldacci gave an apology from Maine to the descendants of Malaga Island.

Congratulations to Rep. Herb Adams, to Maine Freedom Trails, to Gov. Baldacci and to everyone else who helped make that day possible!

Ross Beale

South Portland

 

Soldier son diverted to war zone; leaders silent

 

I would like to tell a true story. It all started in May 2004, when my only child a son joined the military. He though he had to do something with his life.

He came from a long line of family members who were in the service. So he decided he would join to make a difference. In 2005 and 2006 he was in Iraq. From 2007 to 2008 he was in Iraq. In 2010 he re-enlisted to go to Texas. He had a reporting date of August 2010.

But in May, he received new orders to go to Afghanistan because, due to the needs of the military, they deferred his Texas orders for one year and made him go overseas.

He has been in contact with the senators and asked if they could do anything to help him. His response from Sen. Susan Collins’ office was that it would be checked into. This was in May. This includes his other senators also, both here and where he lives.

I have only heard from one and he never gives me a straight answer about it. He just keep beating around the bush, telling me he hasn’t heard anything from the Department of Defense. My feeling on this is that our senators do not care about our children serving their county.

Joseph Caulfield

Jefferson

 

Decisions about waste bigger than bags at store

 

“Paper or plastic,” she asks, as I run my debit card at the local grocer’s. The gears begin to turn as I leap into a waste stream that has global lineage. Both these items can be recycled if put in the right bin on the right day, but both have different histories with respect to imbedded energies and by product waste prior to even reaching the individual.

Unfortunately, this example is a microcosm of a very real, large problem that is not rectifying itself but ever growing and destroying the living systems around and including us.

Industrial capitalism as a mentality has not only contaminated many of these systems with non-biodegradable waste but also seeps into social veins of society. A constant push for efficiency has decreased the overall quality of life for many.

For some, work is not left at the office but rather the world has become the office, all made possible by modern gadgetry; longer hours for the same pay. For others, efficiency has come to the point of eliminating humans from many of our processes.

The result is a social ripple effect akin to a growing mountain of waste that is kept in the dark corners of communities. Self-worth has deteriorated for many; hopelessness breeding bad decisions which in turn come full circle to our communities, cities and countries in the form of lawlessness, poverty, abuse, etc., resulting in a wave of desperation.

The only way to change this cycle is to shift our way of thinking about our businesses, communities and the world. We are a collective; like it or not. Choices we make today have an effect on tomorrow or years from now, as we are well seeing.

Thankfully we have the opportunity to continue making choices, to take ownership and think of our environment and fellow man as we would ourselves.

First, we have to be honest and give a true accounting for our global and communal place in time. Next, what is real profit and at what consequence will that come from?

True profit is profitable for all and encourages growth for all, at individual and global levels.

Mark Anderson

Portland

 

Pearls Before Swine fabulously cool comic

 

I have recently been e-mailing back and forth with Stephan Pastis, the creator of the phenomenal comic strip Pearls Before Swine.

I would like to say that if you have not read any Pearls, you are in for an experience. It is a relatively new comic strip, and I think that everyone should read it – even adults!

It is wicked hilarious, and you will want to read more. I love this strip! My point is, you will, too!

Clare Walsh, age 11

Yarmouth