Monday, April 30, 2012

Great Moments In Non-Theism

Hunter, a New Age devotee, even called the guru, Bob McGovern, for emergency spiritual advice at a restaurant when the waiter brought her the wrong dressing for her ruben sandwich, Young recalled.

Government Even Has Its Own Theology

FALSANI:Do you believe in sin?
FALSANI:What is sin?
OBAMA:Being out of alignment with my values.

Please don't think me a horrid partisan, especially as I have no issue with the current president or any of his predecessors.  Frankly, I don't put a lot of faith in any politician, which is one of the liberating aspects of being a Christian.  God, not government, rules creation, at least in my understanding and that of my Christian culture.  I offer up this interesting quotation to display the "theological" perspective that I think is common in the contemporary governing class, including members of both political parties.

For those puzzled, sin is defined as a separation from God or, put perhaps too simply, from God's values.  We do not commit sin when separated from our own values.  [Unless, of course, we are God; something I don't think even politicians believe.]  If we did, we would confess sin to ourselves, absolve ourselves, and seek to have a closer relationship with ourselves.  God would not be a factor, nor, I think, would Jesus' redemptive moment on the cross.  If we extend the logic of this quoted exchange, we could expect to crucify ourselves for the sake of ourselves and in redemption of ourselves.

Now I'm getting dizzy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Universities Can't Grant Religious Liberty

Similarly, the modern university is a jealous university with its own commandments, and you shall not put God before it. For more than a generation, universities have sought to marginalize conservative or orthodox religious life. In the 1980s, universities tried to keep religious groups from using empty classrooms. In the 1990s, universities tried to prevent religious groups from sharing in student funds. In both decades, speech codes intended to stifle expression that some students might find offensive were enacted at hundreds of universities across the United States.

The Feast Of St. Mark

Today is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, one of the so-called "red days", a reference to the liturgical color of the day that is used to note the feast of a martyr.

In the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 4, he is identified as a member of Barnabas' family.
In the Acts of the Apostles, he figures often as the disciples meet at the house of Mark's mother, Mary; Paul and Barnabas would bring Mark on a missionary journey with them, their first such journey, but Mark would leave prematurely for reasons that are not identified and return to Jerusalem. On Paul and Barnabas' second missionary journey, Paul took Silas instead of Mark, as he felt that Mark was not reliable, so Barnabas made a separate journey with Mark as his partner. 

Paul would, though, refer to Mark in both Colossians and the First Letter to Timothy as a person of trust, so perhaps whatever controversy existed between Paul and Mark had been reconciled by that time. 

Outside of scripture, Papias' 2nd century work Origins of the Gospels refers to Mark as Peter's aide and interpreter.  It is possible that Mark was in Rome with Peter at the time of the latter's execution.  According to pious legend, Mark then moved to Alexandria, Egypt where he would meet his own martyrdom.

We recognize him today primarily as the composer of the Gospel that bears his name; the oldest Gospel in the New Testament.  The lections for his feast day may be found here.

Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Must Have Been A Method Actor

Brazil actor playing Judas dies from accidental hanging

Church And State Separation Seems To Dissolve During Election Years

Obama Asks Students for 'Amen'

Seriously, if I asked for an "Amen" at a secular university, I'd get in trouble.  The last time I was asked to give the invocation at a secular university, I was warned not to mention Jesus and not to ask those present to respond verbally to the prayer's conclusion.  I seem to recall that I got a tatty letter about a week afterwards from the campus' alliance of atheists/agnostics/druids/wiccans, too.

Heck, once at a well-known automobile racing track in Connecticut, I was asked to open a race with prayer as long as it didn't mention God.

The other thing that was weird about this is that the President expected people to say "Amen" after a negative exclamation.  In other words, "You will owe lots of money to a bank when you graduate.  Say 'Amen'". 

Government really is a religion in contemporary America.

This Is A Tempting Notion

Ft. Lauderdale Church Offers Drive Thru Prayer Service

The Feast Of Mellitus, c. 580-624

Well, I've never been that sure how to pronounce his name, either, but he was the first Bishop of London and the third Archbishop of Canterbury.  It appears that he died as natural a death as may be permitted early church archbishops.  During his life he is credited with...well...not that much, actually.  Although, as one may read through the link below, he did use prayer to save Canterbury from fire.  I hope he used prayer and a water bucket, actually; but to each, his own.  Mellitus does not appear on the Episcopal calendar, but is recognized by the Churches of England [natch] and Rome.  Like all of the early British clergy, he was a monastic.

Archbishop of Canterbury from 619. In 601, he was sent from St. Andrew’s Monastery, Rome, to England by Pope St. Gregory I the Great. Mellitus spent three years as a missionary in Kent, England, aiding St. Augustine. He also became the first bishop of London and was responsible for converting the King of the East Saxons. The Saxons, however, exiled him in 616 over some conflict, but Mellitus returned to England and was named archbishop of Canterbury, in succession to St. Lawrence.

 Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for
your servant Mellitus, who was faithful in the care and nurture of
your flock; and we pray that, following his example and the
teaching of his holy life, we may by your grace grow into the
stature of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

[Above is "Scenes from the Passion", a tapestry alleged to have been brought by Mellitus from Rome to England as a gift from the Holy See.]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Sacrament Of Holy Baptism

The Third Sunday of Easter will feature the baptism of Lexie Jean Armbruster at the 10am celebration.  She will be the third generation of her family to worship at Christ Church.

The lections for tomorrow may be found here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Obituary Of Note

Levon Helm dead at 71: Drummer for The Band succumbs to cancer

You may have seen him in some unremarkable films, as he acted quite a bit in his post-Band years.  I particularly enjoyed him in "The Right Stuff" as Chuck Yeager's bemused flight engineer, or in "Coal Miner's Daughter" as Loretta Lynn's father.

But he is primarily known for the work he did with The Band as drummer and vocalist, especially memorable when singing lead on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”.  There was something wonderfully American about his accent, as it seemed to contain traces of the disparate places of our country, from central Ohio down to the Delta.

The photo above is of the lamented Tony Mart's in Somers Point, New Jersey, where I misspent a fair portion of my youth.  In the mid-1960's, the house band was Levon and The Hawks.  They were noted for bringing Delta Blues from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a bunch of mostly white kids on the Jersey shore.  One night, Bob Dylan stopped by, liked what he heard, and asked them to be his backup band.  For the sake of irony, they were re-named The Band.

Here's a moment from their heyday:

George Orwell May Have Been On To Something

From the British press, we learn of the latest attempt to use nuanced language to re-cast history and its facts.

Today we learn that the European Union (our real ruler) is opening a £44m museum that will be a House of European History...World War II is to be described as "the European Civil War".

That's some "civil war", given that it included places outside of Europe like...oh...Burma, North Africa, Micronesia, China, Hawaii, etc.  Not to mention that the European Civil War included Americans, Australians, West Indians, Canadians, Japanese, and so on. 

I just hope I'm never named as today's Emmanuel Goldstein.*

[*You have to read 1984 to get it.]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Feast Of Alphege, 953-1012

Archbishops of Canterbury used to be absolute fire-eaters, to use an English expression.  About fifty years before William the Conqueror and the Normans invaded Britain, the Danes did so and established their king.  When tribute [bribes] was demanded of the church, Alphege politely, but resolutely, told the Danes that it wasn't going to happen.  A collection of drunks then abused and murdered him for not giving them money.  [Interestingly, something similar happened to a Jamaican priest just a few years ago, although not by Danes.] 

More about him may be found here.  By rough count, about eighteen Archbishops of Canterbury have been martyred or otherwise killed for their faith.  Nowadays, they are simply ridiculed by the BBC and Oxford faculty.

O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sounds Like A Tong War

Man tries to rob deli with hot dog tongs.

I Guess Not

A Korean fishing boat sank in New Zealand waters because it was not watertight, an expert witness testified at an inquest today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Feast Of Athanasia, 790-860

Again, this is a feast day in the Church of Rome, not the Church of England and All the Colonies [or, as we prefer, The Episcopal Church in the United States], but the life of Athanasia, though not terribly remarkable compared to many of her contemporaries, does highlight an interesting aspect about the relationship between the church and the state in the early Middle Ages.  To wit:

Greek widow and abbess who lived on an Aegean Island. Athanasia's husband of two weeks was killed fighting Saracens. She remarried, and her second husband decided to become a monk. Athanasia agreed and converted her home into a convent, where she became an abbess. Moving the convent to Timia, Athanasia became an advisor to the Byzantine empress during her seven-year stay in Constantinople.
 In fact, she appears to be so minor that I can't find a collect for her.  I was, however, able to find the icon above.  Here's the Collect of a Monastic from our Book of Common Prayer:

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his
poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of
this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant,
may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the
riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Matthew 4:16, The Secular Version

"This president has brought us out of the dark and into the light."

Feast Of Ancetus, Who Died In 166

The Episcopal Church does not mark this as a feast day, but the Church of Rome remembers Ancetus on April 17th. He was the tenth successor of Simon Peter and, with Polycarp (who is on our calendar), developed the formula for determining the date of Easter.

Enable us, we pray, almighty God, to proclaim the power of the risen Lord, that we, who have received the pledge of his gift, may come to possess all he gives when it is fully revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

An Obituary Of Note

He abandoned his presidential palace in Lilongwe not out of shame over inhabiting its 300 luxurious rooms, built for $100 million in a country suffering abject poverty, but because he declared it to be haunted and claimed that invisible rodents were running all over him at night.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Would Have Commended Them For Original Thinking

Which is why I'm the priest of a small parish and no longer a school administrator.

Senior prank lands Murray County students in suspension

It was harmless, creative, and careful to observe decorum and traffic regulations.  So, naturally, the students must be punished.  And how do I know that the administrators know they overreacted?  Behold, the classic "weasel words" uttered by every bureaucratic microbe since the dawn of human history:

"Murray County School Administrator Mike Tuck would not discuss the issue because of the student code of conduct. He would only confirm that "an incident happened."

Well, It Is The Season Of Resurrection

London 2012 organisers wanted Keith Moon to play at Olympics ceremony

For those of you not familiar with the demi-monde of popular music, Mr. Moon was the drummer for The Who.  I say "was" because he died in 1978.  [Thus fulfilling a wish contained in a verse in The Who's breakout single: "Hope I die before I get old."]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Collect For Easter Saturday

We thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death and brought us into the kingdom of your Son; and we pray that, as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Things for which I'm thankful:  Guys like this.  100% pure American attitude.]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Collect For Easter Friday

Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Things for which I'm thankful:  Above is the first comic book I ever bought; Fantastic Four #55.  By reading comics I became interested in stories of the "heroic cycle", which lead to reading Greek and Roman myths, then more contemporary literature, then comparative literature, then appreciating opera, then realizing that the archtype of all human endeavor is contained in the life of Jesus and the apostles.  The Marvel Comic Co. helped me generate two Master's theses and a doctoral dissertation.  That was a pretty good return on a 12 cent investment.]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

News From Scotland. What Kind Of News, I Have No Idea

Scots deploy taste testers to sample gas leak fish

Time For Something Provocative

In Defense of Herbert Spencer

My former philosophy and ethics students who read The Coracle may recall how we used the general misunderstanding of the works of Spencer as a model as to how not always to trust "credentialed" authority.  An Ivy League degree and position is not always the guarantee of accuracy [trust me, I've had both and know what I'm talking, or don't, but, you know...].  Also, the worst thing a thinking person can do is repeat incorrect information.  Always, always challenge the source.

Collect For Easter Thursday

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[Things for which I'm thankful:  Dad's 1963 Chevy Nova.  It contained the first carburetor I ever took apart, thus beginning my lifelong fascination with engines.  Unfortunately, it took a mechanic to put it back together.  My dad finally let me near one of his cars again last year.]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Secular "Easter" Is A Gift That Keeps On Giving

Police arrest 6 ft. Easter bunny statue

Collect For Easter Wednesday

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Things for which I'm thankful:  I actually grew up ten minutes away from an amusement park.  It was small and a little ratty, but they had the best popcorn balls and hosted many a memorable Sunday afternoon.]

Update:  Well, here's a pleasant surprise.  The popcorn balls are still made by the same people.  They can be ordered here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Collect For Easter Tuesday

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

[Things for which I'm thankful:  Above is Rocky Calavito, the only Cleveland Indian from the 1960's worth talking about, arguing with the ref.  Cleveland boys of my generation held Rocky in a veneration usually assigned to Olympians.]

Monday, April 9, 2012

Without Question

Are you smarter than an atheist?

Especially since I scored 100% on the quiz. Give it a try.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Was Executed On This Day 67 Years Ago

Lots of sources about him; I'll leave it to readers to do their own research, as I'm using this Android device today and it doesn't always want to link.

Oh? Quelle Surprise!

52 percent of reporters: Media does a poor job explaining religion

Further commentary may be found here, as offered by our friend, Yale's Walter Russell Mead:

This doesn’t just tell us something about the qualifications of journalists. It says something depressing about the ability of editors to hire people with the background and the knowledge that allow them to cover world events intelligently. With some significant and honorable individual exceptions, the mainstream press today lacks the expertise it needs to assess and report some of the most important stories on the planet.

False panics over alleged theocracies lurking under every bush (haha), inability to analyze or cover major news stories involving Islam, and a persistent overestimation of global support for the secular rights-driven agenda that serves much of the MSM as a guiding ideology in lieu of religion can all be traced back to the religious illiteracy of so many journalists today.

The Whole Church/State Thing Is A Bit Of A Canard, Eh?

Tennessee Mother Faces Possible Jail Time For Baptizing Children

I Think I Should Introduce The Principal To My Scottish Cousins. The Male Ones.

Teenager banned from wearing kilt to his high school prom by school officials who 'wanted him to dress like a man'.

The principal, the judge of all things "manly", will not speak to the press.

Another Obituary Of Note

You would not believe how much of the music you have heard was courtesy of this fellow:

Guitar amp pioneer Jim Marshall dies at 88

Jesus Sighting! Aquatic Edition

Charleston woman sees Jesus on back of stingray

Anti-Christian Violence Continues

50 people killed in Easter Sunday bombings in Nigeria

[Above is a photo of our bishops protesting last week on behalf of Connecticut's convicted murderers.]

Update:  It was suggested that my comment about the photo seemed snarky.  That wasn't my intention.  I just wanted a different headline that those of area media.  So, how about "Our bishops representing a political perspective this past week"?  No, that's either too vague or even snarkier, as it seems to suggest that they're merely representing only one of the state's political parties.  How about, "Our bishops protesting state-sponsored murder"?  Wait, that sounds like they're anti-abortion, which they definitely aren't.  I know, "All three of our full-time bishops unite to protest capital punishment."  Dull.  How about New York Post-style: "Prosaic and Peaceful Protest by Protestant Progressives"?  Yes, that's the winner.

I used to work for an editor who would never run stories about Protestant clergy involved in a protest.  "Why?" he would ask, "Every headline would be 'Liberal bishop does something liberal.  That's not news."

Oh, and the reason I juxtaposed the photo with the link is to visually remark on how easy we have it as Christians in the USA.  Here, we protest on behalf of murderers.  In Nigeria, we get murdered.

The Definition Of Hell Can Be Highly Subjective

“Along with the first truly beautiful day of the year, my son and I had our first ruined day at the playground,” the poster named Sarah somberly recounted. “Two different people came into the actual playground with ice cream/Italian ice push carts. I was able to avoid it for a little while but eventually I left with a crying 4-year-old.”  Another angry mother...chimed in.  “I should not have to fight with my children every warm day on the playground just so someone can make a living!” the poster wailed.

An Obituary Of Note

The kind of writer only America could produce.

In Case You Didn't See It Last Week...'s a profile of our organist and choir director that appeared in the Litchfield County Times.  It appears he also has a few other interests, too.

Roxbury's Piano Man, Attorney, Board Member, Musician

Collect For Easter Monday

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with awe the Paschal feast may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Just as a personal exercise in thankfulness, which is entirely appropriate for Easter Week, I thought I'd illustrate the collects with photos of things for which I'm thankful.  It's a rather eclectic collection.]

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My shoulders hurt a little, like after a morning in rough surf. My knee cracks when I kneel. I'm a little tired from waking up in the middle of the night when realizing that there's an error in the order of service. But, Jesus is resurrected, risen, re-born and I feel great.

Welcome, happy morning, everyone.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Collect For Holy Saturday

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Collect For Good Friday

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Collect For Maundy Thursday

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just in time for Holy Week, the phone in the parish office is out. A.T. & T. is working on it.

[Update: Yay, A.T.&T.]

Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday:  Holy Eucharist at 8am; Eucharist with the Great Procession at 10am.  [Remember that we are meeting in the parish hall to bless and receive the palms before the liturgy.

Holy Wednesday: 7:00pm Evening Prayer

Maundy Thursday: 7:30pm Proper Liturgy including the Stripping of the Altar.

Good Friday: Stations of the Cross at Noon; the Proper Liturgy at 7:00pm.
Holy Saturday: 7:00 pm The Great Vigil of Easter.

Easter Sunday: Music and Celebration at both 8am and 10:00am.

Collect For Holy Wednesday

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Collect For Holy Tuesday

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Collect For Holy Monday

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lenten Wave #40

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

—John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople; sermon, ca. 400