Friday, January 27, 2012

Website Re-design!

As the kids say, "Check it!" Actually, do they still say that? I still say "groovy" sometimes and everyone looks at me like I have lobsters coming out of my ears.

Anyway, the link may be found at the bottom of this page along with other goodness.

Now if we could just get the December 2010 newsletter off of there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten Vestry Responsibilities

Something for members new and old. Just click here.

What Literature Owes The Bible

The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible

From the New York Times before Christmas.  I meant to post it then, but got distracted by the season, then was reminded by our parish treasurer, to whom you may give thanks for sending this link forward.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Remember that we have only one [1] liturgy this Sunday at 9:30am. It's time for our annual parish breakfast [and meeting]. Come and meet the folks from the other Sunday liturgy and vote for the new vestry.

The Parish House Basement Is Almost Done

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Quotation

"The Bible is fundamentally a story of a people’s journey with God. Scripture is an account of human existence as told by God. In scripture, we see that God is taking the disconnected elements of our lives and pulling them together into a coherent story that means something. When we lack such a truthful, coherent account, life is likely to be perceived as disconnected, ad hoc. In trying to make sense of life, when we lack a coherent narrative, life is little more than a lurch to the left, a lurch to the right....No wonder modern humanity, even as it loudly proclaims its freedom and power to choose, is really an impotent herd driven this way and that, paralyzed by the disconnectedness of it all."

Hauerwas, Stanley (1989-10-01). Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (pp. 53-54). Abingdon Press.

It Was Never About "Sacrifice" For The Wealthy And Powerful

Countering Climate Change With Practicality Ahead of Sacrifice

After all, they kept buying more mansions, more private jets, while lecturing the rest of us on how we should live.  Oh, and suckering church leaders into supporting "sacrifice" for their middle-class, poor, or elderly parishioners.  [Whenever a church leader speaks of sacrifice, my response is "You first."] 

It's remarkable how much the post-modern West resembles Rome in its twilight.

[The article linked to above is from the New York Times, so you can read it if you are registered.]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dear Media, Allow Me To Correct You, Please

Cruise captain pleaded not to reboard ship


Cruise disaster: crew of Costa Concordia 'mutinied' against captain

This time it's not about church matters, though, but about the oft-repeated understanding that the unwritten rule of the sea is "women and children first" and "the captain goes down with the ship" and similar examples of nautical phlem.  While these practices are part of the "immemorial tradition of the sea"*, they are British in origin.  Those merchant services related to the British tradition through formation, history, and royal relations [such as Germany, the United States, Scandinavian and other Northern European nations, etc.] maintain that tradition and practice, but it is not by any means universal.  Speaking as the veteran of four different sinkings in three different nations [long stories; not all that interesting], the only universal practice seems to be "every man for himself".

I imagine the notion of who goes first and the terminal responsibility of the ship's captain comes from the fate of the RMS Titanic and the legends created through that event.  However, as anyone who has ever driven a vehicle in both the UK and Italy can testify, ideas of orderliness can be very, very different from culture to culture.

*"Immemorial tradition of the sea" is also a British idea, generally used to justify things that may not make sense when on land, but are ultimately life-saving when on water.

Dudes, Just Get In The Water

Indonesia cracks down again on train 'surfers'

Now Wait A Minute

Every year I get a letter from the Internal Revenue Service reminding me that explicitly political commentary may not be offered from a church's pulpit without causing a review of the church's non-tax status with the federal government.  I don't remember when this started, but it's been at least ten years now.  I have even heard that IRS agents will sit in the pews on a Sunday morning in suspect churches to make sure of compliance.

Well, apparently rules are only for us little people, and not for presidential advisers:

Senior White House Adviser Blasts Republicans from the Pulpit

While I prefer to preach the Gospel from the pulpit [well, near it], I still do not care for a government agency that's willing to coerce my speech when I'm in a place supposedly free from their meddling.  I find it particularly aggravating to discover that the rules are only for those outside of the Washington power pocket.  If it is to be a tax regulation, then apply it equally or don't apply it at all.  As a Midwesterner, in the language of my people, that's not fair otherwise.

Nativity Goat Still On The Loose!

Reward increases for runaway MN nativity goat

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Feast Of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Originally, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the only non-Episcopalian to have a day on our calendar of feast days. The reasons for his inclusion are, I think, obvious to any student of post-modern American history. [In recent years, however, the Episcopal Church has gone wild and is assigning feast days to anyone who appeals to aesthetic and intellectual tastes of the denominational leadership. Ah, well, plus ├ža change....]

However, the Episcopal Church remembers him not in January, which is the government holiday, but on April 4th, which was the day of his assassination. It is ancient tradition that martyrs be remembered on the date of their martyrdom.

In anticipation of his feast day, and in recognition of the federal holiday [when the government honors a highly educated American by closing all public schools!], the Episcopal Church readings for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s day may be found here.

And since the media conveniently forget that he was a practicing Christian and person of faith, rather than a "person of government", we remember him by his title "The Rev. Dr.".

Friday, January 13, 2012

So, What's Going On In The Anglican Communion?

The other day I used the term "Anglican Communion" in a posting and a couple of folks had questions about it.  In brief, the Episcopal Church in the United States, which is officially known as The Episcopal Church*, is part of a world-wide communion of churches that were founded by the Church of England, the so-called "mother church", during the heady days of England's muscular colonization of most of the world into the British Empire.  So, the Episcopal Church is the post-revolutionary form of the Church of England in the colonies.  Similarly, the churches throughout the rest of the world that are part of our Communion were, for the most part, founded by Church of England missionaries from the 17th to the late 19th centuries.

Unlike, say, the Congregational Church [no offence to them; merely pointing out the historic difference], we have always been part of a world-wide Christian witness that is united mainly by history and the use of the Book of Common Prayer.  So, whether we are talking about the Archbishop of Canterbury, or Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, or Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi, we are talking about fellow Anglicans with a shared liturgy and theology.  All of them would be comfortable in our small parish and find it a familiar worship experience.

So, from time to time, and to remind us all of our global witness, I'll list the leading stories of work and concerns that press upon our Anglican Communion, featuring ministries and personalities of which we may be proud.

To begin, I offer the following:

Southern Africa archbishop tells Mugabe to end church persecution

After carnage in Nigeria, spiritual leaders seek unity

UK churches strive for an environmentally ‘green’ Christmas

For those who noticed the irony, British Anglicans struggle to be environmentally sensitive; African Anglicans struggle to stay alive. 

Please note: Those of you in your 40's grew up in the ECUSA, or Episcopal Church of the United States; those older grew up the PECUSA, or Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States.  There is no canonical difference between the PECUSA, ECUSA, or what is now called TEC; it's just that in every generation the powers-that-be like to demonstrate that power and engage in pointless name changes.  It's okay as it hurts no one, costs very little, and allows them to feel secure in their authority, which is the real reason for it, after all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A 3D Visual Tour Of The Sistine Chapel

Click here.

Well, This Has Been An Interesting Morning...

First, a mentally ill/drug addicted former student sends me an abusive Facebook message because I gave him an "F" on a term paper 21 years ago, then I discover that a former employee of mine has been caught stealing.  For thirds, I get a message from Amanda's stolen phone that was meant for the thief's girlfriend.

In the first case, I'm impressed with my former student's ability to hold a grudge. Heck, he's not even Celtic. Although, judging from his grammar, spelling, and usage, I'm reminded why he failed the term paper.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Archaeological News

Hebrew University professor disputes claims about purpose of newly-discovered Jerusalem Temple artifact


Claim of Maya ruins in Georgia sparks controversy

and, from my alma mater,

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology online database

Surfboard Tales: Memoriam

Click the quotation below for the whole story:

“The waves are like life, man. And I don’t mean that like in those books about surfing. Waves aren’t about metaphysics or Eastern religion or Californicated gibberish. Everyone tries to apply some deep meaning to life, too. They create massive organizations to define it. Folks have tried throughout history to apply meaning to it, and life resists it. Life is just life. That’s why it’s like the waves. All of that verbiage, all of those words to try to turn a wave into something mystical, and the wave just is. You can tell me about energy and gravity and moon phases and [stuff], but I don’t care. I know it’s just a wave. You just ride it. Like, it’s just life, we just live it. And even when we think it’s over, we still ride it.”
[Kinda, sorta, related site:  The "paddle-out" for Sean Collins, both the California and Hawaii versions.  The scene of the south side of the Huntington Beach pier makes me nostalgic, as that was where I first rode a proper SoCal wave."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Continued Christian Persecution

Nigerian church attacked by radical Muslim sect

The End Of Something

The old, mostly dead, Roxbury Christmas tree, aka "Senior" [as opposed to the new one, "Junior"] is being cut down today. I feel like there should be a gathering of mourners.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Observation From Theologian Stanley Hauerwas

"There was a time when unbelief also appeared to be adventuresome, when the denial of God was experienced as an exciting new possibility, a heroic refusal to participate in oppressive social convention. In our day, unbelief is the socially acceptable way of living in the West. It no longer takes courage to disbelieve...we Christians have given atheists less and less in which to disbelieve! A flaccid church has robbed atheism of its earlier pretensions of adventure."

Hauerwas, Stanley (1989-10-01). Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (p. 50). Abingdon Press.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Church Fire

The Somers Congregational Church in Tolland County suffered a fire last evening and, as one may see, appears to be a total loss.  We'll keep them in our prayers.

This Week's Provocation

"Once the concept of “human rights” has established itself as an axiom, the question inevitably arises: How and by whom are these rights to be secured? With growing emphasis, post-Enlightenment societies have answered: by the state. The nation state, replacing the old concepts of the Holy Church and the Holy Empire, is the centre-piece in the political scene in post-Enlightenment Europe. After the trauma of the religious wars of the seventeenth century, Europe settled down to the principle of religious coexistence, and the passions which had formerly been invested in rival interpretations of religion were more and more invested in the nation state. Nationalism became the effective ideology of the European peoples, always at times of crises proving stronger than any other ideological or religious force. If there is any entity to which ultimate loyalty is due, it is the nation state. In the twentieth century we have become accustomed to the fact that—in the name of the nation—Catholics will fight Catholics, Protestants will fight Protestants, and Marxists will fight Marxists. The charge of blasphemy, if it is ever made, is treated as a quaint anachronism; but the charge of treason, of placing another loyalty above that to the nation state, is treated as the unforgivable crime. The nation state has taken the place of God. Responsibilities for education, healing and public welfare which had formerly rested with the Church devolved more and more upon the nation state. In the present century this movement has been vastly accelerated by the advent of the “welfare state.” National governments widely assumed to be responsible for and capable of providing those things which former generations thought only God could provide—freedom from fear, hunger, disease and want—in a word: 'happiness.'"

(Lesslie Newbigin, The Other Side of 1984: Questions for the Churches [Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1983], pp. 13-15)