Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kitty Bible Study

This has no theological significance! I just loved the picture. So cute!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jesus, Remember Me (Taizé)

Thoughts of the Dead

Read this one in a minor key.

I've been thinking about funerals today. The Unapologetically Episcopalian Facebook page linked to this a while back. But I hated the gory visuals that were included on that version. This one's more peaceful to me.

I could listen to this over and over. In fact, I have listened to it over and over today.

I've heard it sung during Tenebrae. But one commenter on YouTube mentioned hearing it mostly at funerals. I think that would be powerful and peaceful. I'd like it sung at mine. I would love to hear it sung during Communion, as some parishes apparently do.

You may wonder why I'm thinking about funerals today. Well ... it's convoluted, of course ... but you expect that of me, don't you? You'd think I had a double major in Long and Convoluted.

I woke early this morning, before dawn ... naturally and rested, and without aid of alarm clock. Made coffee, said Morning Prayer, and looked forward to a productive day at home -- this being one of the few totally free Saturdays I've had in a while. I had decided I would tackle the Room Formerly Known as a Guest Room & Study.

But for the past 34 months it's been The Room I Enter Only to Deposit Stuff ... like papers that need to be sorted and filed, or out-of-season clothes that need to be put away, or papers that need shredding. More and more, it's becoming the room where I crack the door open and toss things in. Not literally, but almost.

I know when it got transformed from the Guest Room to the Shunned Room. It became the Shunned Room when the few boxes from my mother's apartment were deposited there shortly after her death in October 2007 ... and the room has been shunned ever since. [And no, I didn't make that deposit. Family members with a key to my house put my mother's stuff in that room one day while I was at work. I think they meant well. But neither I nor they realized what would befall.]

I know I need to sort through those boxes and reclaim the space as my own. I had hopes today might be the day where I could at least begin to sort through the stuff I've subsequently deposited on the bed and other flat surfaces ... to "clear the decks" so that I could have space to go through my mother's boxes.

But, no, I played on Facebook and e-mail and the Interwebs. And dusk settled in, and now darkness. So ... of course ... I'm feeling like a failure. I suspect I was into major procrastination, without my even knowing it.

Dang it! The rest of my house is pretty tidy and well-organized. But that one miserable, cluttered, disorganized room haunts me and overwhelms me ... even on days like this, when I thought I had awakened full of energy.

Perhaps tomorrow. Who knows?

Meanwhile, I listen to this song ... thinking of my mother ...

It sure takes a long time to get over this stuff, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Embarrassed by Christianity

In the last couple of weeks, there has been much conversation about Anne Rice’s repudiating “Christianity” … “in the name of Christ,” as she put it. [See her comments on July 28 and following.] On July 28, she wrote:

Anne Rice For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
A few minutes later, she wrote:

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
I am quite sympathetic to the disgust that led her to that declaration and to flee the Roman Catholic Church … though I wish she had found the Episcopal Church before she wholly repudiated Christianity.

And we’ve all seen the news stories about the people who define themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”

Of course, many of you will remember those videos, modeled on the Mac vs. PC commercials, that distinguished “Christians” from “Christ-followers.” The “Christians” were the narrow-minded stuffed shirts, of course.

God knows, I can understand those moves. I am mortified by the “Christians” who are often quoted in the media when reporters want to find a “Christian’s” response to some current issue. Almost always, the “Christian” articulates the voice of judgmentalism at best and hatred at worst.

Far too many Americans have been led to believe that people and groups like Westboro Baptist Church or James Dobson articulate the views of Christianity in the U.S.

Very often, I observe this debate in myself: When discussions of religion arise outside a church context, I do not identify myself as a Christian. I identify myself first as an Episcopalian. And why? Because, in my view, the name of “Christian” is hideously identified with narrow-minded bigotry. When pushed further, I will also say I’m a Christian, but I generally hasten to add, “But I’m not that kind of Christian.” I know many of you regular readers have had similar experiences.

It seems to me that – for many people outside the church in this country – “Christian” and “Muslim” mean about the same thing: hate-mongering zealots who would just as soon kill those they perceive as infidels. One of which I am not, of course. Just tonight, I heard a Christian candidate for Congress talk about "taking those people out." Of course, that means "kill them."

Today I did some catch-up blog reading, and MadPriest pointed me to a new website: Tea Party Jesus. Each day, the author posts an historic image of Jesus, with words spoken by a current “Christian,” plucked from today’s headlines. And the irony is profound. When I explored that site today, I cringed at the words that supposed “Christians” speak in the name of Jesus.

Here's a sample from Tea Party Jesus.

Photo Credit

No wonder I want to hasten to say I’m “not that kind of Christian.” The Muslims have their jihadists. Likewise, we have our “Christianists.” Both are full of hate, rage, and condemnation … and perhaps even murderous zealotry. Both seem to want their opponents to die … actively or passively.

But how in the world can “my kind of Christian” invite people into our churches, invite them into the loving embrace of a God who loves them beyond their wildest imagining, invite them into a community that calls our whole selves, our souls and bodies [as the BCP puts it] into engagement with God?

Monday, August 09, 2010

BREAKING: Fox News Supports Gay Marriage

Admittedly, that’s a teaser headline. I don’t watch Fox News, but I expect that their talking heads are still exploding at the California Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Prop 8 and thus re-open marriage to gay and lesbian couples. However, people responding on the Fox News website apparently do support gay marriage. Now that is a news flash!

[BTW, Need I tell you how very much I hate sharing my name with such a loathsome propaganda machine?! I hate it!]

Paul Ambos, a participant on the Bishops/Deputies listserv, alerted us that Fox News posted a poll last week about the California Supreme Court’s decision. The Fox poll asked the question,

"Did Judge Make Right Call In Gay Marriage Case?”

and the Fox survey allowed these responses:
  • Yes -- Prop. 8 violates the Constitution.
  • No -- Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I don't care what the judge thinks about the Constitution.
  • I'm not sure but shouldn't the voters views count for something?
  • Other (leave a comment).
With Paul Ambos, I am intrigued that the Fox News online survey distinguished issues of morality from issues of constitutional analysis. It was a “leading” survey, which basically forced respondents to declare their belief in the Constitution or admit they value theocracy over constitutional government.

Anyway … I held my nose and went to register my opinion on the Fox site, expecting to me as much a minority there as I am when I vote in my local elections. Imagine my surprise! 72% of respondents are agreeing that Prop8 violates the Constitution. Only 24% are going for the “Damn the Constitution! I hate queers!” option.

I am astonished.

So … If you haven’t already done so, hold your nose and register your opinion at the Fox News site. You don’t have to register, reveal your e-address, or anything. You can just click and vote. Frankly, I am utterly astonished that they haven’t pulled this poll.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Adventures in Acolyting

If you know little else about me, surely you know that I love serving as crucifer, that I take the ministry of acolyte very seriously, and that I could easily be accused of being a “liturgy nazi” in our little parish.

This morning, I was reminded of the benefits of “cross-training” among those who serve at the altar. I was serving as one of the two Lay Eucharistic Ministers. After the offertory, the crucifer and LEMs moved to the altar with our priest, but the crucifer had a decidedly green cast about him. Words were spoken quietly, with our rector giving him permission to duck out the sacristy door, assuring him I could “fill in.” Which I did, of course.

You who follow this blog know that I would rather serve as crucifer in this parish (roughly analogous to subdeacon in a cathedral) than as LEM. Today, I got the best of both worlds. I got to assist the priest in setting the altar … then I got to administer the chalice. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And – best of all – our rector, just returned from a month’s vacation, was home today and she was dynamite. After all our parish has gone through in the past month, she preached absolutely The Perfect Sermon.

It was a great Sunday in the parish.

But I digress.

Or perhaps I’m just leading in.

I give thanks to Beth Felice for finding this site, which proposes (tongue in cheek) a Liturgical Acolyte Screener. Go read it there.

But just in case that site should disappear before my blog disappears, I am copying it below. Read and laugh!

Liturgical Acolyte Screener (LAS)

Tired of sloppily dressed acolytes? Annoyed by the wearing of untied red Converse Hightops? Does the latest Jay-Z ringtone interrupt the flow of liturgy? We’ve solved this problem by installing the Liturgical Acolyte Screener in the narthex. Manned by highly-trained LAS professionals who are personally trained by the parish verger, acolytes are required to walk through the LAS prior to processions.

From here

The device picks up uncombed hair (offenders are directed to a grooming station before reentering the screening process); cottas in disarray; ringtones that fail to match the opening hymn; footwear that is any color other than black; bad attitudes (surly acolytes are sent to the attitude adjustment station staffed by members of the altar guild – if they don’t shape up they are required to remain with the altar guild for the duration of the liturgy; we no longer have acolytes with bad attitudes); and bad posture.

With cutting edge technology, the LAS can distinguish between a thurible and an i-Phone. The thurible passes; the i-Phone is confiscated. It also picks up tie-dyed stoles and guitars. We keep confiscated items in a locked closet off the narthex. Phones are returned after the service while ugly or inappropriate vestments are burned. Needless to say cassock-albs are cast into the fiery furnace.
I hope you will consider having an LAS installed at your church. The weeping and gnashing of teeth is a small price to pay for liturgical correctness.
Coming soon is the Organ Zapper, or OZ, that immediately shuts down any organ that plays “It is I Lord” or anything composed after 1900 unless it is in the Hymnal 1982 or 1940. It also ejects the offending organist into the outer darkness.
I love that! How 'bout you?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Election Day in Missouri

In Which I Voice My Political Opinions, At the Sure and Certain Risk of My Job

Oh, shame. Oh, woe. Today I did something I have never done in my life. On this Primary Election Day in Missouri, I went into my precinct and … I took a Republican ballot for the primary election. I have never before done that in my life. But in my town/county/district, there are very few Democrats running. In fact, most of the seats have only Republicans running; not one Democrat has filed for many of the offices. So it is pointless to vote in the Democratic primary. I live in a county that lacks a two-party system. If I am to keep the most insane, wacky Republicans from coming into office, I had to take a Republican primary ballot. GAWD! I feel so dirty!

And I am not alone. I was at a social event this weekend with a bunch of liberal and progressive friends. All of them were planning to take a Republican primary ballot … in hopes of keeping the wackiest of the wingnut Republicans from winning.

In years past, there’s one Democrat I would have wanted to support: Ike Skelton, Congressman of the 4th District. In years past, I would not simply have voted for him; I would have sent him money, because he will be in a fierce battle to retain his seat in Congress. But not this year. He has betrayed me. He voted against the health care act in Congress. And he not only voted against the repeal of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell”; he also made egregiously stupid comments that the repeal might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. [As he put it to reporters: “What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" In my view, that’s the very definition of a bigot.] As Rachel Maddow put it, Ike Skelton – the current Chairman of the Armed Services Committee – is literally afraid to talk about the fact that gay people exist. View her segment here:

In the past, I believed Ike Skelton was a principled, centrist Democrat. This year, I see him as an ignorant dinosaur who is a great friend of the Damn Republicans. So I could not contribute any money, nor could I vote for him. Frankly, I can’t see that people like me will lose anything if he loses to a Republican in November. There’s no difference between him and the Reactionary Republicans. Skelton has betrayed everything about which Democrats like me believe. So I couldn’t care less if he loses. It will not matter whether Skelton or a Tea Party Republican is in that seat. There is no difference between them. Whoever is his opponent, I know both of them are haters.

If you’re a political junkie, you know that Missouri also has one referendum on the ballot. It’s a referendum to nullify the national health care legislation. Missouri is the first state to put the issue on the ballot. The ballot language is convoluted. If we wanted to let Missourians benefit from the national health care legislation, we had to vote “no” to the wacky Missouri ballot language. I’m watching the voting results roll in, and something like 75% of Missourians are voting with the Tea Party wackos – seeking to nullify the federal legislation. But that’s not surprising. For it’s mostly Republicans voting in this primary election. The vote is skewed, as the state legislature intended. They knew that it would mostly be conservative Republicans voting today. So take this vote with a grain of salt. Democrats mostly stayed away … because the Democratic Party is essentially dead in Missouri.

You can watch the results roll in here.

All in all, this is a miserable evening for me. I realize the most wacky conservative Republicans will win, despite my support for the few thinking/moderate Republicans. And I’m sure stupid Missourians will vote for the feckless “nullification” of the national health care plan. I am living among stupid people in an ignorant wasteland. On nights like this, I despair of the state of our Republic – a republic founded on a fear of tyrannical democracy. Tyrannical “democracy” is now the rule.

I love and appreciate many of my friends here in Missouri, but I fear the majority of Missourians are about as intelligent and rational as this woman.