Wednesday, February 29, 2012
“Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancell th’ old.
In heaven at his manour I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.
I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
Of theeves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died. ”
― George Herbert
[Herbert was a poet of the 17th century and a priest in the Church of England, which is the "main branch" of the Episcopal Church.]
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
For what it's worth, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has been a member of this council. I'm surprised that I haven't heard any comments from her office about this. I'm sure there would be if the current president were from the other political party.
I know this high school as it's in the Eastern portion of the Cleveland suburbs where I grew up and was one of the schools that competed in the same athletic conference as did my school. It is in a quiet, semi-rural area with a low crime rate and small-town ambiance. It's where one lives in order to raise a family in a safe environment.
I also feel it because I lost a former parishioner to this type of violence a number of years ago, although about a decade after I had left that particular parish. Still....
Ben & Jerry's apologises for 'racist' Lin-sanity ice cream
Of course, Ben and Jerry have not owned Ben & Jerry's for some time now. The company is owned by Unilever, a British-Dutch corporation that is one of the largest in the world. It is a tribute to the B. and J. marketing team that we still associate the ice cream with a couple of corpulent flower children in Vermont. In fact, this marketing success hit its apex this past fall when B and J supported the Occupy Wall Street movement. The fact that Unilever [one of the so-called "1 percent"] was standing in support of those who were the self-proclaimed champions of the "99 percent" was an irony worthy of Tom Wolfe, Walt Kelly, or Alexander Pope. The fact that no one noticed this irony brings a certain splendor to it all.
However, what drew my attention to this story was how narrow racial sensitivity can sometimes be. Even at a gathering of clergy [the most morally superior class of human that has ever existed; really, just ask them] those of Asian, Eastern European, or American Indian [ahem] descent still can expect to hear jokes about driving ability, lack of intelligence, or the habit of building casinos in unlikely places. Often, those who think themselves the most elevated are the most guilty of this passive form of racial dismissal.
Oh, well. At least casino jokes are preferable to those about rain dances or Tonto's penchant to be sent into small Western towns by the Lone Ranger in order to get beat up.
“In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us. If wolves had a religion – if there was a religion of the wolf – that it is what it would tell us.”
― Mark Rowlands, The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness
[Remember that there has never been an act of defiance greater than the one realized on Easter morning. It is one thing to defy Temple authority, or Roman bullying, or Satanic coercion; it is at a whole new aspect of redemption that requires defying mortality itself. - Me.]
Monday, February 27, 2012
I guess that means because we don't behead people.
“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
"What if the Lord’s Prayer is neither a Jewish prayer for Jews nor yet a Christian prayer for Christians? What if it is...a prayer from the heart of Judaism on the lips of Christianity for the conscience of the world?"
Find out this coming Thursday in the Christ Church parish house. Soup and bread at 6:30; class at 7.
Also, remember to bring a Bible, any translation you favor.
Episcopal priests offer 'Ashes to Go' as Lent begins
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
1. The Doors
3. Jimi Hendrix
4. Led Zeppelin
5. The Who
6. Tupac Shakur
7. Snoop Dogg
9. Chuck Berry
10. The Grateful Dead
11. Diana Ross
13. The Beach Boys
14. Bob Marley
15. Janis Joplin
16. Buddy Holly
17. Notorious B.I.G.
18. (Eric B. &) Rakim
20. Run D.M.C.
21. Guns n' Roses
23. Sam Cooke
24. Talking Heads
25. The Ramones
26. The Everly Brothers
27. Patti Smith
28. Public Enemy
29. Sly & the Family Stone
30. The Sex Pistols
31. Parliament &/or Funkadelic
32. The O'Jays
33. Creedence Clearwater Revival
34. The Stooges
35. Motley Crue
37. Deep Purple
39. Jackson Browne
40. The Pretenders
41. Toby Keith
42. New Order
43. Depeche Mode
45. The Kinks
47. The Smiths
49. Dusty Springfield
50. Teddy Pendergrass
52. Curtis Mayfield
53. The Byrds
54. ZZ Top
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Find out this coming Thursday in the Christ Church parish house. Soup and bread at 6:30; class at 7.
Above, on the right, is the statue to Luwum that is found in the martyr's corner at Westminster Abbey.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Hundreds killed in 'hellish' fire at prison in Honduras
Here's a chilling quotation: "Dozens were trapped behind bars as prison authorities tried to find the keys, officials said."
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
STUDENTS LEARN TO LIVE LIKE MONKS
I have no truck with the intention of the class, certainly. In fact, I used to teach something similar once upon a time. However, I am disappointed that the main feature of this "monastic life" is one of constraint and control. A dress code, no electronics, no "physical contact" [I'm guessing that means chastity], no alarm clocks [?!], etc. While these could be argued to be reflective of traditional monastic vows, there seems to be a piece missing.
Mainly, there is no mention of any type of spiritual life; no framework for the monastic discipline. Without that, which is the liberating feature of any community of faith, it just seems like cultic behavior. Maybe that's the point, I don't know.
Interestingly, in Celtic Christianity, there was no vow of chastity or gender segregation. Men and women lived together in community, married, and procreated while remaining members of the monastic order.
[While I'm at it, I should note that, in my early days in the Episcopal Church, I was a Christian monk, and am still an honorary member of a Buddhist monastery in New York, where I once lived in community for a week. In both places, I was permitted an alarm clock and the "dress code" was only used when worshipping in community. I smile when I see that the professor is identified as a Catholic and also a Buddhist. On contemporary campuses, that's the equivalent of making wine safe for children by pouring a lot of water in it. "Oh, it's okay that he's a Christian. He's a Buddhist, too."]
Surfers know something about Valentine’s Day or, as it is known around our house, The Feast of St. Valentine. Valentine was an irregular saint, to be sure, dropped from the Roman martyrology for reasons that still seem unclear, but then I’ve never really understood the politics of canonization. But for all of the candy hearts and increasingly expensive greeting cards, there is something that happens in his octave that is the portent for all good things to come. Namely, in mid-February, the shape of the waves begins to change.
There will be many who will dispute this, but those would be people who limit their understanding of nature to the sciences of meteorology or physics or astronomy. Some of us still use the ancient art, so liminal as to be pre-verbal, of rud a bheithsa dúchas agat to understand tides and gravity. We so often watch the waves, are so often immersed in them, observant of their nature and their potential for transport, that, in a crude translation from the Celtic above, “their nature is in our blood”. We know that the waves have changed and that winter’s power is diminishing and, even if we should suffer still more snow and ice, it will be of shorter lease and far less strength. In short, we’re through the worst of it.
That’s the first, and least important, thing that I note on this day. The second is that it’s my wife’s birthday. While I’ve always been thankful that it falls on a memorable date, so that I don’t become like a grotesque situation comedy husband who forgets his wife’s birthday, I am particularly pleased that it is an event that carries far more importance and relativity than what may be expressed in an abstract Valentine. While I am the one socially bound to offer her a gift, today I also recognize a gift that I receive from her. Not only is her love as constant as that of the Almighty’s, but I have come to particularly appreciate the grace she displays when she fulfills the duties of her call to ordained ministry. There are times when I cannot fathom how she does it.
We were just married when Jenni became the first woman hired by a tony parish in Connecticut; later, upon the departure of the rector, she became the acting rector of the parish. Again, this was a first for the congregation and one that was not well received by all of them. In the 1980’s, there were still too many who believed that ordained ministry was not something for women. Those who held this prejudice were of both genders, I might add. Thus, every decision she made, every action in which she engaged, was strongly scrutinized. Despite that, she prevailed in ensuring that the parish prospered, the giving increased, a new assistant was hired [one who would later be a candidate for bishop], a lovely and appropriate memorial garden was built, a complicated wedding arranged by the more-complicated Martha Stewart was celebrated, and the burial office was read both for a U.S. congressman and for the teenage son of the senior warden, tragically killed in a terrible auto accident. The scrutiny relaxed after these events, especially since they were all squeezed into twelve months. Clearly, she could do the job.
She was then called to be the rector of a parish in the Berkshires. Again, the first ordained woman ever to celebrate the Eucharist and, again, the subject of scrutiny. A few people left the church upon hearing the news of a female rector; others came to see if they could find something, anything, about which to complain for the remainder of her tenure. The couple in the pew in front of me on her first Sunday muttered during the length of the liturgy about the inappropriateness of a woman behind the altar until, somewhere in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer, I told them both, in the name of our Lord and Savior, to shut the hell up. It didn’t matter as the parish prospered, new things were done, infants and adults baptized, couples married, and the faithful bid to the reaches of the Kingdom. When Jenni suffered a brain aneurysm while in the pulpit, and the best the doctors could hope for was a partial recovery of speech and motor function, with one physician even suggesting that giving her last rites “would not be inappropriate”, the treasurer of the parish held a meeting to convince the vestry to reduce her position to part-time. As he stated, her brain damage was actually good news for the budget. While this would have reduced me to a near-murderous rage, or at least a life-long Celtic grudge, Jenni’s response was to recover fully and return to work on a full-time basis. After six months, it was as if the aneurysm had never occurred. It was coincidental, but I seem to recall the treasurer moved out of town later that year. I seem to recall helping him.
She has been in yet another parish for the past fourteen years. Again, the first woman and, well, you know the rest by now. Even after nearly thirty years of service in the Episcopal Church, there are some strains of narrow-mindedness that resist time, change, and reason. She still deals with the antics of those for whom sourness is the chief feature of their relationship with a parish. Well, history generates through people and their experiences, and some folks cannot be blamed for the simplistic provincialism that doesn’t permit them to see what is manifest in my wife’s long and eventful service in the Church. Sometimes small towns in Connecticut seem a lot like small towns in the Ozarks. Except with a country club, of course.
It is my lot as a husband to permit these petty sufferings to attract my attention, but Jenni never seems to regard them as anything other than unimportant portions of the curious responsibility to which we have been called by God. For her the job is about those who pray in strength and weakness, who fight the good fight, who keep the faith; for her it is about the infant lofted above the font, the children who work the Epiphany puppets, the couple who kneel before the altar at their nuptials, the kind and good man for whom the burial office is read. What we do is reflected in those hands that reach out, week after week, at the altar rail to receive the sacrament. Hands big and small, soft and rugged, eager to receive the promise of the Covenant. Every congregation will bear those who have been rendered sour by their inability to truly hear the Word of God, even when it is revealed again and again through the positive life of a parish. But congregations, and clergy, live by the good works of the muscular Christians who ennoble parishes and invite all to come before the altar, even those who seem the least able or willing to comprehend it.
So, on her birthday, I thank Jenni for always presenting me with examples as to how to be a good priest; one who strives in grace and truth, one who sees the good inherent in any human undertaking, who suffers fools gladly, and who locks each day in prayerful intention. I also thank her for her love, without which I would never have known the good life we enjoy, the great achievements we have experienced, or the simple, plain fun that has marked our common life and our mutual service to God.
I guess rud a bheithsa dúchas agat is not just for waves.
Monday, February 13, 2012
On February 13th, 1804, The Rev. Absalom Jones was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church of the
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Earth's Polar Ice Melting Less Than Thought
The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows
By the way, as I grew up on the literal shore of it, Lake Erie has the smallest volume of any of the Great Lakes, as it is the shallowest.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
There is also a fine to dig too deep of a hole in the sand. Good thing LA County has no other problems.
This guy would have had a great career in the church.
For years, those of us involved in water sports, and high school students who have no choice in the matter, have been lectured about how pollution is killing the world's coral reefs. Now, this. It's almost as if, when there is no ready explanation, we rely on the catch-all of "global warming/cooling/climate change" to label the phenomenon.
This quotation caught my attention: "Corals are already responding rapidly to the environmental changes that we're imposing upon them." Right, by healthy growth instead of slow death. Why is this bad, again? And really, which is it? Are we killing the coral reefs or making them teem with life and growth? I'm all at sea [no pun intended].
If you're interested in beach and water protection, I've been a member of this group for some time. They, too, are overly reliant on the warming/cooling/change explanation, but they do actively promote beach and water cleanliness and organize events to do something about it.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Once or twice a year, I get bored with words. Oh, and the Internet. And newspapers. Anyway, this weblog will be left untouched for the next few days. We'll be back, though.
Above is a great photo that I discovered recently. It reminds me of the early days of surfing when it was just about the interior, spiritual aspects of the activity, before multi-million dollar competitions and sponsorships, before militant localism created "surf gangs" that use vandalism, threats, and violence to keep strangers off of "their" beaches. Before it was a "lifestyle" or people received Ph.D.'s for dissertations about "surf culture". Nice reminder that once upon a time, it was just a small collection of folks who enjoyed the water. Obscurely, it also reminds me of how I once regarded the greater church and my service to it. A couple of decades ago, it was the perpetual threshold of spiritual discovery through service and dedication, when I was asked to serve as the hierophant to individuals, families, and congregations. Now, people ask me when I'm going to get on a ladder and change the lightbulbs in the choir loft. Still, there is some Pauline sense of holy service in that, to be sure.
It's funny to me, as I get older, and having had as parishioners a governor, a senator, a congressman, a network anchorman, a presidential advisor, a variety of artists and writers, bishops and their spouses, and been mentored by a Nobel Peace Prize laureate [actually, he was awarded the prize while in the midst of teaching our seminar], that these folks above are the ones who impress me. Nobel Prize? Big deal. Can he ride the North Shore without pearling?
Friday, February 3, 2012
LA school district lunch program spawns thriving junk food black market
I jest, of course. It never works. This particular program had "doom" written all over it.
That doesn't mean that institutions and government will cease attempting to control human behavior. For example, look at this conversation currently taking place:
Sugar Should Be Regulated As Toxin, Researchers Say
The article includes this bit of wisdom sure to excite politicians of both parties:
"The researchers propose regulations such as taxing all foods and drinks that include added sugar, banning sales in or near schools and placing age limits on purchases."
When the Hebrews were in the wilderness, all God [and that's God, the only God, creator of heaven and earth] needed to give them were ten simple, easy to remember and understand commandments. God let them work out the rest themselves. With those ten simple rules for community and congregational behavior, they were able to claim the promised land. When the Hebrews decided to add to the list, and to make the law so complicated that it needed a cadre of clergy/lawyers to decipher, they lost the promised land. Repeatedly. It took God's own son to embody the law to bring this destructive cycle to an end.
As for me, I'm not missing the boat with this prohibition. I'm warehousing sugar and changing my name to "Lucky". Or maybe "Bugsy". When it's illegal, you'll know who to come to.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
The second was that churches often conspire in their own demise. At a break during the meeting, I asked one of the church members if I could use the phone. He told me the church didn't have one. "People would be bothering us all the time otherwise," he explained.
Update: Oh-oh. It looks like there's some disagreement in the rodent meteorlogical world.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
A virtual unknown to those in Litchfield County, but a significant part of my youth in my much more "cosmopolitan" hometown.
I pine so for the joys of fabrication that I wind up watching television in the evenings. I’m not a fan of network reality shows or dramas that chiefly feature autopsies, but I do find myself watching shows about home repair, auto and motorcycle customization, or the installation of a stereo system into some NBA player’s Escalade; anything that requires a craftsman to match something already manufactured with something sometimes terribly new.
Part of my pining, too, is that I know I have the body from a 1972 Stratocaster sitting in the workshop. [For those who have lived outside of the demi-monde, a Stratocaster is a famous guitar made by the Fender Company. Whenever you see some rock star capering about on stage, it’s generally a Strat that he’s abusing.] Once upon a time, that guitar was its company’s featured product, coveted both by professional musicians and thirteen-year-olds.
By the time it came into my possession, after being found in a dumpster by an acquaintance, it was as neglected an instrument as I’ve ever seen. In fact, every piece of it was useless except for its body that, although scratched, dented, and stained, was still of a quality in material and fabrication that can’t be easily duplicated these days. All it needs is to be carefully refinished and restored, matched with contemporary parts and then surrendered to someone who will take better care of it than did its original owner.
It is a wonderful moment to see someone, especially a young person, bring life to an instrument that was, a few months before, regarded as nothing more than refuse. As the union of old art and new parts, it will make music again. Rather like our shared life of faith, which is also a combination of older arts and newer hands, it has the potential for intentions as sweetly offered as music.
This may be the reason that, of late, we have such an interest in re-discovering the traditional elements of our faith and liturgies, so that they don’t end up in some form of spiritual dumpster; abused, neglected and discarded. Whether it is that highlighted through new discoveries in Biblical archaeology, prayer themes from our Celtic roots, or the Hebrew foundation of our liturgy, our worship works best when the congregation is as informed as it may be about the history and nature of faith.
This is something that I want us to capture in our new Thursday evening adult forum. While it could be called “Bible study”, this is not going to be limited to a prosaic interpretation of one spare verse of scripture, but a view of the Bible in the context of our entire tradition and our individual lives. If one wishes to know more about the Episcopal Church, Celtic spirituality, archaeological evidence of Biblical events and places, the personalities that have delivered the faith to all of the world’s cultures, then Thursday evenings at 6:30pm would be a likely platform for discovery.
As Jesus used the rabbi’s traditional call to gather his contemporary students, perhaps together we can find ways to blend the traditional with the contemporary to produce and promote new ways of looking at our lives in the context of our faith and the covenant we share with one another and God.