Sunday, July 29, 2007

I am Harry???

I finished the new Harry Potter book last night. I need to find some bloggers who have finished it and are discussing it -- a venue where "spoilers" are allowed. I found myself just exhausted when I closed the cover at the end. And I would like to talk with others in our little blogoverse who have written about it.

Oh well ... here's a meaningless little diversion in the meantime. I ran across one of those online quiz thingies. Here's the results of mine. I'd like to think the results have some validity ... but, of course, they don't. I will, however, cling to the conviction that I'm more like the "good guys" than the "bad guys" in J.K. Rowling's world.

You scored as Harry Potter, You can be a little reckless and hot-headed at times, but a more brave and courageous friend would be hard to find.

Harry Potter


Sirius Black


Ron Weasley


Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Severus Snape


Hermione Granger


Ginny Weasley


Lord Voldemort


Draco Malfoy


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reading Harry Potter

I'm in the midst of reading the new Harry Potter book. I've avoided reading about others' impressions, as I don't want to know anything about what's coming. So I promise: No spoilers here!

There's a line about half-way through, where Harry ruefully reflects on Dumbledore and says: "This isn't love, the mess he's left me in."

I didn't know why, but that observation made tears spring to my eyes and a sort of ache in my heart. I didn't pause to think about why the line affected me as it did.

So thank God for "Klady," who blogs at Lady of Silences. Apparently the line struck her, too. Go read her marvelous essay, This isn't love, or is it? The rich reflections she draws from that one line are just right.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blame it on Gay Marriage

Something like 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Whom shall we blame? The queers! Yes, let's blame it on the queers who want civil marriage or who want to have their unions blessed in our church! Yeah ... that'll work. It's a delightful excuse.

A friend [Thanks, EK!] sent me a link to this delightful video today. Enjoy!

If that embedded video doesn't play for you (after hitting the "Play" button twice), then go view it here on YouTube.

Thank goodness we have "the gays" to blame!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This is Christianity?

If this is Christianity, Count Me Out

Like many of you who check this blog regularly, I subscribe to the House of Bishops and Deputies listserv. I read almost every posting – whether from right, left, or center. Having been an addicted subscriber since mid-2003, I now feel like I "know" many of the voices there – even though I've met very few of the people in person.

There's this one guy who's a "priest." If I recall correctly, he used to be in one of those "faux Anglican" churches, but he was received into the Episcopal Church by one of those bishops who hates women and queers. Now this guy has moved to the Diocese of Dallas. But it doesn't matter very much, does it? … He's moved from one diocese where hating the Episcopal Church is a diocesan sport into another that's just the same.

I call this guy "Cassandra." We can always count on him to find anything in the news that suggests any decline in the Episcopal Church. If there's a scandal in any little out-of-the-way Episcopal parish, we can count on this guy to post it to the 5,000+ readers of the HoBD list. If there's a cleric anywhere on the planet who decries the Episcopal Church for any reason, we can count on this guy to trumpet it like the blind pig. [Surely even you who haven't lived in Texas do know the "blind pig" story, don't you?] He's managed to become more a caricature than a human being.

He out-did his amazing sanctimonious self today. He posted a news item to the listserv, with the subject heading:

"Homosexual Sin Is Shattering WWAC Communion"

Then he pasted-in this article from the Times Online (from London), by Ruth Gledhill. Problem is, the actual headline in the Times was:

"Bishops Threaten to Boycott Lambeth Conference"

Hmmm … Notice any dissimilarity?

Interestingly enough, the article he posted didn't say that we queers and our supporters are destroying the Communion. It said that some bishops in the Church of England are ticked off that the Episcopal Church isn't kowtowing to the ultimatum that the primates threw down in Tanzania a few months ago.

So … that was the Voice of Self-Professed Orthodoxy on the HoBD list today … bless his heart!

[Parenthetically, let my Inner Editor say just a brief word. "WWAC" is a handy abbreviation for the "Worldwide Anglican Communion." So our faithful HoBD poster known to me as Cassandra posted a headline warning us of a dire threat to the "Worldwide Anglican Communion Communion." Y'know … if he's gotta be hateful, couldn't he at least be literate? I suppose not! Your resident English major will now take a chill-pill.]

Meanwhile . . . a friend sent me this amazing and downright chilling video clip from a recent Christians United for Israel conference. I encourage you to watch it. These "Christians" (and I use the term loosely) are absolutely certain about their reading of Scripture. They know that if the good ol' U.S.A. would bomb Iran into oblivion and set off a holocaust in the Middle East, then Jesus Christ would be forced to do his "second coming" thing, and all these Good Christians will be raptured, leaving the rest of the world to suffer hideously. And they are so very happy and earnest. (Incidentally, note that U.S. Senator Joe Liebermann is a hearty supporter of this group and keynote speaker at their conference!) They seem to believe that the Left Behind fiction is a scholarly treatise on the End Times.

One person who commented after seeing the Christians United video wrote this painfully sarcastic comment on that site:

I want to be a Christian.

I want to tell lies to get what I want and to do so in the Name of God. Then, should I feel guilty (as if), I will repent my sins so that God will love me and I won't go to hell. . .

I want to be a Christian so that I can DAMN all who don't follow my corrupt ways . . . .

I want to be a Christian so I can wave my hands in the air and cry for my "Savior" Jesus to cum and clean the world of people who don't look like me, act like me and conform like me. I want to be a Christian that does weird and wiggy dances meant to conjure up my spiritual conviction to worship a blind faith that condones slavery, racism and - of course - EXCLUSION.

I want God to permit me to react in WAR when I don't get my way - ooops! I mean, God's way. . . .

Yes. I want to be a Christian. I want to be a blind pawn in the game of WAR. . . .

Ya think?
I feel pretty safe in guessing that person doesn't go to any church, and isn't going to be lured into any church that proclaims its triumphal "God is on our side" message.

By contrast, The Episcopal Majority posted an essay a few days ago on Puzzles and Mysteries – which suggested that we should be humble in approaching the word of God, and quite humble about assuming that we have God's Word "just right." Their "It's Really Not About Sex" had a similar message.

The spirit of militant fundamentalism and Christian triumphalism is alive and well … and walking the earth. I'm not so terribly surprised when I find it in wacky Protestant fundamentalist groups. When Deputies to our General Convention spout analogous muck … then I do get sick.

So … this is a rant. I'm putting on my flameproof bodysuit.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bottom-Feeder Fodder

or, A Bit of our History

I am astonished at the number of times each week that some former Episcopalian or never-was Episcopalian trots out the names of Bishop Spong or Bishop Pike or Marcus Borg as a sign that the Episcopal Church is apostate and heretical. I've read Borg and been challenged by his writings. I'm just old enough (chronologically, and in the Episcopal Church) to be familiar with Bishop Spong. But I didn't know anything about Bishop Pike ... beyond the occasional murmurs I heard from his friends (that he kinda "lost it" it in later years) or his detractors (that he was an out-and-out heretic).

If you want to know a bit more about Bishop Pike, Louie Crew has provided a collection of reflections. First, for background, go to the Grace Cathedral site -- where he was elected bishop of the Diocese of California in 1958. Then go to Louie's site and read the assortment of reflections from folks who actually knew the man.

I don't know how you will respond. I found it exciting to read of his work in the '50s and '60s. (The photo at right is of Bishop Pike with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1965.) And the story of his resignation and of his death made me very sad. But this is the great thing: In the stories, he is portrayed as a very mortal man. Not an icon. Not an object for target practice. It seems to me that he was a bravely questing Christian.

Check it out. Thanks for another service to our church, Louie!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So Popular!

Gosh! It seems the StandFirm crowd has remembered how much they love my blog. It wasn't enough for the blogmasters there to whip their devotees into an orgiastic frenzy over Elizabeth's blog. Since that frenzy is subsiding, they're whipping up the faithful against those of us on the progressive side who have declined to join in their "Burn the Witch" frenzy. (I'm profoundly honored to be included alongside such masters as FatherJake and MadPriest. But I recognize I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs from under their blogs . . .)

Now that the StandFirm Christians are visiting here so often, I'm receiving more garbage comments than I want to. Generally, I wouldn't mind this, as I'm usually able to stay online with great frequency and delete those few that cross the line. But in the next week, there are going to be long periods where I'm offline, so I have turned "comment moderation" back "on" for this period.

Rest assured, most of your comments will be published. But as you'll recall from past times, I've declared this blog is my living room. Folks can't come in here and say ugly things about me or my friends. Folks who need to say those things should do so on their own blogs. To the rest of you, I apologize for having to moderate comments. I'll get online as often as I can and approve all reasonable comments.

Monday, July 09, 2007

It Must Be a Full Moon (Part 2)

It's been quite a while since I have wished to post about the Big Issues in the Anglican Communion. I'm just weary of that whole scene. I'm much happier living out my life in my parish. And here in the real world, the Chicken Littles of the Anglican Communion are just a joke. We have real issues to deal with – real people to feed, real people to whom we are ministering. I have a real community in which I live.

But I do keep one eye on the wacko Nut Jobs of the Faux Anglican Communion, 'cause it's part of my job to patrol the perimeter. And this one today really ticked me off.

Elizabeth Kaeton posted a long, thoughtful piece that started by talking about what her granddaugher might grow up to be, then cycled into broader thoughts about feminism. Elizabeth is the mother of I-dunno-how-many children. (I lost count, but I recall it's a bunch!) Some of them are hers by birth, and many are children she adopted – children whom nobody else might adopt because they had "special needs." In the midst of her long thoughtful post, she had one paragraph where she alluded to another woman's blog. I had never seen nor heard of this woman's blog. But it turns out that woman is the wife of one of the Wackadoo Right Wingers. So guess what? The Harpies zoomed in – making it a feature article that (as of this moment) has 280 comments. You're shocked, right? Shocked?!

The Harpies have now descended on her. They are urging all their devotees to write to Elizabeth's bishop, her Standing Committee, and her vestry … and they will not rest until she is stripped of her collar. In that feature article, every now and then, the discussion takes a turn away from the "Burn Elizabeth" [a.k.a. "burn the witch!"] theme. And when it does, Greg Griffith turns the discussion back to the point: "Write to her bishop." "Write to her Standing Committee." Clearly, he is out for blood.

Could "hate" possibly be spelled any more clearly?

They despise her.

It is visceral.

Mind you, this gang is smelling blood after stoking up a feeding frenzy over that priest in Washington who thought she could be a Christian and Muslim. [Groan! I disagreed with her – vehemently disagreed! and I didn't see how she could continue to be a priest in our church -- but I didn't feel a need to witness a public pillory.] They managed to create such a media frenzy that she has now been inhibited on the front pages of newspapers. It should have been handled quietly, but they succeeded in making it a public spectacle. Yes, they succeeded magnificently. And they are exulting in that victory.

They succeeded. They held that woman up for public ridicule. And they got the sacrifice of flesh that they demanded in their orgy. And they danced in glee at what they believe was her humiliation. (Incidentally, Father Andrew Gerns has some perceptive comments on this whole dust-up; click here to read his commentary.)

But that was last week's news. Now they want Elizabeth's flesh.

As I held my nose and read their comments, a couple of images kept coming to my mind. I read this "Greg" character whipping-up his devotees to "get Elizabeth." Fresh from what the StandFirm crowd views as a "kill" with the priest in Washington, they have the heady smell of blood in their nostrils, and it's the best aphrodisiac possible for their kind. It's a bit hyperbolic, but I hear echoes of that horrific scene in The Accused, where one of the more impotent guys eggs-on his buddies to rape the character played by Jodie Foster. Or of the killing frenzy in Platoon. It is all about power and control. An uppity woman is terrifying to some people. She must be destroyed!

They are going after Elizabeth now with a vengeance. Meanwhile, she is flying to Belize early tomorrow on a mission trip.

The "leaders" at StandFirm are the impotents urging rapacious violence. It would be funny if it were not so sickening.

Father Jake called it correctly when he posted over there:

You don’t give a damn who you hurt, whose reputation you trash, as long as you get to throw a little more mud on the Episcopal Church. People are expendable if they can be used to further your cause.
I used the term a very long time ago: "Bottom feeders" would be embarrassed by what some of these so-called "Christians" are doing in the name of their self-proclaimed sanctity. This is nothing but character assassination.

If you're so inclined, go over to Elizabeth's blog and tell her you agree this kind of garbage must stop. Just remember she's on a mission trip in Belize, and can't post any comments on her blog 'til she returns July 14 or 15.

Update 07/10/07. Leave it to MadPriest (a.k.a. God's Gift to the Anglican Communion) and his MadParishioners to provide truly delightful commentary on this situation. Hie thyself across the pond and read that.

It Must Be a Full Moon (Part 1)

The loonies seem to be out in full force this week. Is it a full moon?

I generally stay away from the blogs of the lunatic fringe – those who are wholly devoted to the destruction of the Episcopal Church. But some items there caught my attention today, and – like a moth to the flame – I could not stay away. God help me!

I was struck first by the blog of He-Whose-Bourbon-Must-Be-Obeyed. Poor Brad keeps teetering on the brink of whether he'll be in or out of the Episcopal Church … in or out of his parish … in or out of blogging. But holyJesusMaryandJoseph! He claims to have been personally attacked by the Right Reverend Paul Marshall, Bishop of Bethlehem … and now it seems our Brad is newly energized. Now isn't that convenient? LOLOL!

Never mind that I could post a blog-comment and make it appear that I am in fact the Archbishop of Canterbury or – even better – the Archbishop of All Nigeria. Poor Brad seems newly energized by the fantasy that the Bishop of Bethlehem is out to get him. To those who seek to point out the realities of the blogosphere (in which "nobody knows you're a dog"), Brad cryptically says, "Trust me. I know this." Like Brad is even a blip on the radar screen of the Bishop of Bethlehem.

They tell me that the closer you get to the bottom of the bourbon bottle, the more sure you are that Eternal Truth is just within your grasp.

Yeah, right.

Isn't that special?

++Rowan Cantaur
Archbishop of Canterbury

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Coming Out Insurance

Coming Out Insurance . . . because gay children can be so expensive . . . .

It appears this "commercial" has been out there since late April. But I hadn't seen it 'til a friend alerted me to it last night. (Many thanks, Tom.) Get out your laughing hanky!

And if it doesn't play when you click (twice, if you please) in this window, go to BrightCove.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bona Fide Weenie

In my last post, I mentioned (in what I thought was an aside) that I was going to have an "epidural steroid injection" today. I didn't quite know what that would entail, but I was anxious. I'm thankful to MadPriest for encouraging some God-bothering on my behalf. I'm really grateful to the many of you fellow denizens of MadPriest's virtual parish for the prayers and encouragement. I do declare: MadPriest's "virtual parish" is surely one of the healthiest, truly functional ones in the Anglican Communion these days. Thank you, fellow bog-standard Christians. This blogosphere community really is amazing, isn't it?, in the way it connects us outside of geography.

For those who are curious, let me back up a bit and explain. You long-time readers will remember I had a weird thing happen last fall, where I woke one morning with a completely paralyzed right hand. [I blogged about it back in September and October and finally in November with my good news of recovery.] It made me crazy, and there was no treatment for it. Time and prayer worked their wonders, though, and it became functional again.

Some other "stuff" has been occurring in the last few months, though, which I worked for a while to ignore. A lot of it seemed to me like maybe it was some sort of "repetitive stress injury" like carpal tunnel syndrome, but some of the symptoms just didn't seem to jibe. Both hands/arms just "don't feel right." [Is that an official medical term yet?] Lots of aches. Occasional severe pain. They feel like they're shaky, though they don’t physically/visibly do so. Sometimes, it just feels like all I can do to make my hands/arms operate. And there are times when my lower legs also just don't seem to want to do what I tell them to do. [Self to leg: "Press the accelerator." Leg to self, whining: "Do I really have to??"]

So I finally went to my doc, and then she had an EMG done, which ruled out carpal tunnel. So she ordered an MRI, which showed a bulging disk in my upper spine. When they called to give me the results, they said that could account for the tingling and pain. (Funny thing, though: I've never complained of any tingling, and the pain's manageable; it's the sense of diminished motor control that's really bugging me!) So she arranged for me to have this "epidural steroid injection," which I had today. They shoot steroids into the upper spine to reduce the inflammation, and that should (as they say) reduce the tingling sensations. (Duh! How many times do I need to say this ain't about tingling!?!)

I'll screw on my bravery cap now, and confess two things to you folks.

First, throughout this thing, I've learned that I have a very active and imaginative Inner Drama Queen. And she's just certain that this is some "Dread Disease" like Parkinson's. I work to keep her at bay. But I do have a pretty great fear of disability. Those fears were kicked up big-time last fall when my right hand was paralyzed, and I got more aware of what disabled folks must endure just to get through the day.

Second, I am a Bona Fide Weenie when it comes to any kind of medical procedures. I'm such a weenie that I have to have nitrous oxide even to have a routine dental cleaning. And shots? Needles? Ohmygawd! Don't even go there.!

Several of my friends whom I know personally, as well as you friends from the blogosphere, have asked how the procedure went today. So I'm going to take up a lot of bandwidth and tell you probably more than you wanted to know. But this way, I can just send folks to this page instead of trying to describe it to folks individually. I apologize if this seems like the lazy out. But I am so wiped out this evening that I really need to take this lazy way out.

The appointment was at 12:30. The doctor had told me I had to show up there with a driver, as I wouldn't (at least shouldn't) drive myself home. I am grateful for those who offered to be my driver and companion. Chris lost the lottery, and was a huge help. Thanks, Chris!

The place I went is called something like the Center for Pain Management. Both the nurse then the doc seemed surprised when they were going over my symptoms, as major pain just isn't the issue. The MRI had shown a bulging cervical disk, and my primary doc said this steroid injection should reduce the swelling in that disk and make the tingling etc go away. (Never mind that tingling has never been a symptom!) Oh well. I and my Inner Drama Queen figured reducing the inflammation should be a good thing, and – who knows? – maybe it'll help with whatever is really going on.

My doc had said they would do it with that kind of IV sedation that has you officially conscious, but you're oblivious to the whole thing, and just wake up afterwards with no recollection. (I had that done when I had wisdom teeth removed, and was grateful for it.) But when I got to the clinic and said, "We'll do this with sedation, right?" they just pretty much dismissed it – even after I explained that I'm a Bona Fide Weenie about medical stuff. So I agreed [and I use that term loosely] to do it without sedation. Partly, I was cowed by their obvious "oh, it'll be nothing" and partly by (a) the fact that the procedure would take a lot longer that way and (b) the much-longer list of things I wouldn't be able to do for 24 hours if I opted for sedation.

They did the procedure with me sitting in a chair. Rest chin on chest, in order to separate the vertebrae so the doc could "get a clearer shot" between the vertebrae, I assume. They had warned me both injections would be long and painful. No shit! The first injection was some sort of narcotic [Fentanyl, the paper says]. Then the steroid injection. I was hooked up to blood pressure and pulse monitor. When I got there, it was normal for me (120/72). When I looked up afterwards, it was dropping under 100. They suggested I just sit there and relax, and I said nothankyouveryfuckingmuch-Iwannaliedown, 'cause I had this lousy light-headed gonna-pass-out feeling. So they helped me up onto the thing that passes for a bed, and it got a little better after a while.

As soon as I could, I got up, and my friend Chris brought me home around 2:00. I've spent most of these past hours sleeping. When I get up, I feel light-headed and sick. The Big Orange Guy and I are spending quality time on the sofa. I think he's glad that I'm just hanging out with him, instead of slaving over a hot keyboard.

A friend sent me an encouraging note that, having gone through the procedure fully conscious, maybe I deserve to give back the Bona Fide Weenie t-shirt. Thanks, Liz! and I think so. It was hard to do.

Of course, they didn't sedate the Inner Drama Queen, so she's still on active duty.

The docs today warned me that, once the narcotic wears off, I may have more pain from the injection for a couple days. Great. Just great. Not.

Now … we'll just see whether this whole thing makes a real difference. I have to go back in about 3 weeks for a do-over. I'm told it may take a series of three injections for this to do the trick. Ah well. When one puts oneself in the hands of the Great American Medical "Care" System, one just needs to "lie back and think of England." [Surely you do all know the joke to which that is the punchline, right?]

I'll end with a couple of delightful notes I've seen.

My Episcopal Majority buddy Tom is a genius with limericks. He sent me this one, which made me laugh even while I was feeling so lousy this afternoon.

The day of Princess Lisa's epidural,
the expletives were, alas, all in plural,
but she's got to get back,
to avoid getting the sack
and conserve ten more documents and a mural.
Tom's right. The inner expletives were definitely in plural. And I know I need to get back to work as soon as I can stay awake for more than a couple of hours.

I saw another this evening, as I was trying to catch up on the HoBD listserv. One of our Deputies, who is facing truly dire medical stuff with her infant son, had remarked: "I've heard it's theologically immature of me to say - still, I think he has fared so well because so many people have prayed for him." Dear Elizabeth+ responded to her: "It takes a very brave heart to say, 'Help me.' It takes a gracious heart to say 'Thank you.' It takes a humble heart to say, 'I couldn't have done it without your prayers.' Bravery, graciousness and humility have never been marks of theological immaturity."

This Bona Fide Weenie can't claim bravery. But I certainly am overwhelmed with gratitude and humility for the support I have received from so many friends in my Real Life and in my Virtual Life here in the blogosphere. Thank you, one and all.

And now, I'm going back to sleep.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My Boy is Home

I brought my big orange guy home yesterday. (You'll remember he's been in the vet hospital since Sunday last week.) Although we have the World's Best Vet, she has not been able to figure out why his glucose levels are bouncing all over the chart. But it seemed clear that she couldn't do much more at the clinic than I could do for him at home. So I brought him home yesterday.

We're back to the same regimen as last fall: I have to stick a needle in his ear frequently to make it bleed so that I can test his glucose level, then give him insulin based on the findings. When we were doing this back in the fall, I was hampered by paralysis in one hand. It's a little easier now, physically. I have better motor control. Still . . . it's hard to lure him onto my lap and then stick him.

And then there's this: My own motor control is not what it should be. Over the last couple of months, I've had a series of visits with my doc, then an EMG, then an MRI last week. Tomorrow, I'll have an "epidural steroid injection" … whatever that means.

So my boy and I are both kinda the walking wounded.