Friday, December 26, 2008
Anywho, I encourage you to read this thread. I am mulling over the issues to make some comments of my own, either here or there.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
First, we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech in this country, and these are very precious things which I support with every fiber of my being. People have the right to practice their religion in ways I find abhorrent, and to say things that I find unconscionable. I will defend to the death their right to practice their false religion and to say horrible things.
Freedom of religion and freedom of speech do not grant immunity to criticism, as many seem to think. Rick Warren is free to believe that bigotry against gay people is mandated by God and to spread the lies about gay couples that he does (equating them with child molesters, for example). But people of good will are also free to condemn him for these things, and our freedom of religion and freedom of speech guarantee our right to do so. And in exercise of my free religion and free speech, let me say that I do not believe that Rick Warren has a genuine relationship with God, and I believe that he is an enemy of the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ. My saying that does not infringe on his freedom to practice his religion, and I do not think his church should be shut down, or that he should be muzzled in any way. And his freedom to practice his religion also should not extend to taking away my freedom to practice my religion, as Proposition 8 has, by imposing Roman Catholic, Mormon, and Southern Baptist beliefs on marriage on my church and other religious groups, such as the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, which do not share those beliefs but whose marriages may not be recognized by the state.
But the point of my post was not to criticize Rick Warren, but rather to criticize President-elect Obama for asking him to give the invocation at his inauguration. By asking him to do so, Obama is implicitly endorsing Warren’s agenda of denying gay people civil rights. As someone who claims to support inclusive values and relative equality for gay people (he does not support full equality since he opposes same-sex marriage), this is a very bad move that troubles me and makes me worry that his support will be mostly rhetorical. I hope I’m wrong, and his term of office may be the flowering of civil rights for gay people on the federal level. But Bill Clinton ran a very inclusive campaign, and he did more to eliminate civil rights for gay people on the federal level than any other president in US history, signing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act into law and establishing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, wasting millions of tax dollars to expel gay soldiers from the military. And although George W. Bush was in most respects a horrible president and certainly waged a rhetorical war against gay people with his support of a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and probably contributed greatly to the passage of many state anti-gay constitutional amendments, he actually signed the most pro-gay law ever passed on the federal level, the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which allows gay couples to inherit tax-deferred annuities without the draconian penalties once assessed. (The law does not specifically mention gay couples, but in fact extends this provision beyond civilly-married spouses to any person – and that is the key to Republican support for gay civil rights – as long as it only benefits gay people as a by-product and not as the primary purpose of the law, they are willing to support it.) So I don’t actually take the words of politicians very seriously, only their actions.
Some think that he is being “inclusive” by including Rick Warren, reaching out to conservative Christians – but I think if we compare it to other historically disadvantaged groups, this analogy falls apart. If a white president were to ask a minister who supported segregation and the denial of civil rights to black people to give an invocation, no one would talk about including racists – they would quite rightly denounce this move. But intolerance of gay people is still tolerated in ways that intolerance of other groups is not. And that is troubling. (And before anyone starts talking about how intolerance of homosexuality is supported by historic religious beliefs while racism is not, let me point out that the denomination to which Rick Warren belongs and in which I was raised, the Southern Baptist Convention, split from the Northern Baptists [now the American Baptists] specifically to teach that the Bible condones race-based slavery. My parents – my father a Southern Baptist minister -- believed and attempted to teach me as a child that inter-racial marriage is wrong and against biblical values.) By inviting this man to pray at his inauguration and implicitly condoning his successful attempt to take away my civil rights and those of other gay Americans, he is sending a message of exclusion and intolerance.
Not a good way to start his presidency, and a serious blot on what ought to be a celebration of a milestone of inclusion, the inauguration of the first African American president.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I sent this out to the members of the jurisdiction last Saturday (11/29/08) but only thought to post it here a few minutes ago.
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new church year. We remember the First Coming of Christ in the Incarnation, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas; we prepare for the at the end of time; and we encounter Christ’s coming to us daily – in the , in Scripture, in prayer, in community, and in the poor.
The first Psalm says of the righteous that “their delight is in the law of the LORD, and they meditate on God’s law day and night.” I would like for us, in this church community, to have as our goal for this new church year to get to know the Scriptures more deeply, so that we may be “like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither”, as the first Psalm goes on to say of the righteous.
I would like to ask each member of this jurisdiction to do three things this year:
· prayerfully read through the New Testament;
· pray the entire Psalter on a regular basis; and
· study the Gospel according to Mark, the gospel being read this year in the modern three-year lectionary (even if you follow a different lectionary).
If we become more rooted in scripture, we will find that our encounters with Christ in the Eucharist, in prayer, in community, and in the poor will become more profound, and our ability to witness to thePlease be assured of my prayers for a meaningful Advent and a joyous Christmas. within us will grow.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Rene Vilatte Press now offers two traditional ordos for 2009 -- guides to reciting the office for a given year -- the Monastic Diurnal edition and the Oratory of St. Michael & St. Timothy, which mostly follows the Anglican Breviary.
You can check them out here: http://stores.lulu.com/vilatte. The Independent Catholic Christian Church canons are also there, and more items will be added.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place – this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
I love visiting churches, when there is no service in progress, just to experience the architecture. One of my favorite churches is St. Bartholomew’s in
Of course, one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit expressed in art is the Gothic cathedral. These soaring edifices, truly “sermons in stone”, are a testament to the transcendence, majesty, and glory of God. But there are also many simple country churches in which, when one walks in, one can almost tangibly feel the prayers that have been offered through the years.
We Independent Catholics don’t have the opportunity to build grand edifices, or in most cases, even to have a space to call our own, and so we meet in homes or rented spaces such as this. (Many of us establish chapels or prayer corners in our own homes, of course, and these are one of the great things about our movement.) But we meet, create our own sanctuaries, and worship as the church nonetheless, not being bound by the space or the lack of it.
In today’s first reading from Genesis, Jacob is on the run. He and his twin brother Esau never got along from the moment of their birth – in fact, Jacob was fighting with Esau to see who could get out of the womb first, and although Esau won that competition, Jacob had his heel in his hand when he came out. Esau was the favorite of his father Isaac, and Jacob of his mother Rebekah. Jacob bought Esau’s birthright as the firstborn with a bowl of lentil stew, and he and his mother conspired to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the better blessing by having Jacob pretend to be Esau. Esau threatened to kill Jacob after their father died, and their mother sent Jacob to stay with relatives for awhile to be safe (and find a suitable wife).
But as scared, and as demoralized as Jacob must have felt – and as rootless as he was, fleeing from the place he had lived his entire life to a place he had never been – it was at the place he camped out for the night on his journey that God chose to appear to him. God appeared in the dream, showing Jacob a ladder with angels ascending and descending from earth to heaven and back again. And his response was to say, “How awesome is this place – this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven”. He took a stone and made a pillar to commemorate this profound encounter with God – the first time we are told in scripture that God talked to Jacob. He named the place “
And so it is with us. We scheme, we struggle, we strive – and our own efforts, which may get us material wealth, social prestige, intellectual achievement – or not – cannot satisfy our spiritual hunger. As Augustine said, in the Confessions, in his famous prayer, “God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” But God comes to us, in our greatest hour of need, and puts down a ladder between our temporary sojourn, and heaven, and builds for us the House of God, and opens the Gate of Heaven. We may not even always be aware of the presence of the Lord – “Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” But when we look back, we see the evidence of God’s presence.
So let us allow God to build within us the House of God, the Gate of Heaven, knowing that, as the hymn says, “Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head, the cornerstone.”
Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place – this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
I hope his end is not destruction, and I don't think his glory is his shame, but another part of Philippians 3:19 certainly applies to Charles!
Allie loves to sit on the chairs in the chapel:
In the morning, I sometimes have to have my breviary in one hand, and my other petting her!
Friday, June 13, 2008
Charles saw me taking a picture of Allie and was jealous, so I took a picture of him as well:
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Second, the dish that Charles has his head in contained catnip. Allie was actually roughly where he was (there was another dish on the floor with Charles' catnip), but Charles chased her away to take her catnip. I can only assume that the wild party held by the potsmokers across the hall influenced him to behave this way. I'm glad to see that Allie did come back to sleep on the arm of the couch.
Friday, May 09, 2008
The image of marriage to Christ is used not only of religious profession, but also of the church (as the "bride of Christ", imagery used by Paul in the New Testament). One of the most important aspects of this for me is the idea of a solemn, permanent covenant. Adolescents date a lot before settling down with their spouse (if they do), and there is a certain intimacy that can only come from a permanent commitment. Now, making a permanent commitment in marriage to one person, saying "I do", at the same time means saying "I don't" to everyone else (in the traditional language of the marriage service this is expressed as "forsaking all others"). And that can be scary -- as humans and more especially as American consumers, we like options and choices.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I had hoped to use this blog as a means of thinking through various issues facing the IC/OC/ISM/EIEIO part of the Christian Church. But one of the things that has happened since I started this blog is that the jurisdiction of which I am a part has grown, and with that growth, so have demands on my time also grown, and I have found it well nigh impossible to devote the time and energy to blogging in a thoughtful way (and see below for my rules about how to go about this). Hence the many cat blogging posts.
What are the rules?
First, do no harm. I am a very opinionated person, and I am used to expressing my opinions quite freely. But one of the things that I have discovered as a bishop is that having pastoral responsibility means that I must keep many of my opinions to myself. Jesus said that he did not come to extinguish a smoldering wick or to crush a bruised reed, and I feel obligated to attempt to follow in His footsteps. So even when I disagree with some of those for whom I have a pastoral obligation, I must refrain from criticism or confrontation if it does not constitute a central matter of faith or interfere with the functioning of the church. And even in those situations where a loving confrontation is necessary, airing my views in a way on this blog that might cause offense or pain (or defensiveness) on their part would be wrong.
Second, observe appropriate privacy – my own and others. On both secular and religious blogs, I have encountered bloggers revealing the most intimate details of their relationship with their spouse, or their children, or with other family members. One can only wonder how the other family members feel about this (or will feel, in the case of children once they are adults). While some self-disclosure is appropriate, there are certain things that should not be entered into the permanent record that is the Internet. When television first became popular, some observers of popular culture observed that “the medium is the message”, and I believe this is true of the Internet as well. The Internet has given us an amazing ability to connect with one another across previously insurmountable geographical and cultural barriers, and this is a very good thing. But it has also encouraged a narcissistic exhibitionism and voyeurism that is quite unhealthy. I think blogs are great for the discussion of ideas. Some aspects of personal lives – pictures of vacations and new babies, details of the lives of ones’ cats, etc. are perfectly appropriate. But there are things that are best left unsaid – at least in a public forum such as a blog. (And, of course, there is a gray area in between.)
Unfortunately, much of what interests me most about church life is the practical lived reality of the church community. While there is much that is written about this topic that is of great interest, what insights I have gained are mostly the result of practical experience – which means that much of it is not appropriate to share on the blog.
Third, I am not one who thinks best out loud on a blog, so for me, I am not ready to post something until I have given it some reflection. (This will not apply to all bloggers, of course – it has to do with particular personality styles.)
Those are the three that come to mind.
I am going to omit the tagging, but would be interested in what others have to say.
Friday, May 02, 2008
So this picture shows Charles extending the right front paw of Christian fellowship to Allie:
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Through the liturgy of the Eucharist and the Divine Office, we are drawn by Christ into the hidden life of the Trinity, and I am pleased that we are able to offer people these regular opportunities to be so drawn into the divine life.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The above committee feel that he has committed a grave offense against both faith and morals by his recent post "Friday Cat Blogging: Canine Edition", defiling the holy and sacred Cat Blogging tradition by the inclusion of profane dogs. This committee is currently deliberating about the penalties they will demand -- my suspicion is that Allie will demand the skinning alive of the dog in question (given her constant fears that I, the phone, random pieces of dust, etc. might skin HER alive), whereas Charles will demand that Fr. Chris feed him cat treats (Charles' solution to most situations -- my putting clean laundry in the sock drawer while he is sleeping there, my leaving for work, Tuesday, etc.).
Friday, March 14, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
So I was happy, a few minutes ago, to see them sitting next to one another in one of Allie's favorite spots, on top of the kitchen cabinet above the refrigerator:
For more pictures of Charles and Allie, see Chris Tessone's blog. He stayed with me before and after our jurisdictional gathering last weekend.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?For liturgical use, I prefer the King James; for non-liturgical use (and for modern liturgies), I prefer the NRSV. My LEAST favorite versions are those that are paraphrases or rely far too heavily on "dynamic equivalence", such as the TEV, the NLB, and the NAB.
2. Old or New Testament?
I like both -- one thing I miss from my Baptist upbringing is the assumed familiarity with OT narratives. One reason I like the Revised Common Lectionary is that is much better about including those narratives.
3. Favorite Book of the Bible?
4. Favorite Chapter?
5. Favorite Verse? (feel free to explain yourself if you have to)Acts 2:42.
6. Bible character you think you’re most like?
Abraham. I've done a lot of journeying in my life, and am more concerned than I ought to be with other's opinions (see his dealings with Pharaoh and Abimelech and his being caught in the middle between Sarah and Hagar).
7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?
The genealogies of Edom -- I can see the genealogies of the Israelites -- but why do they care about the Edomites? I can easily see why the Kabbalists came up with commentaries to say that the Edomite genealogies were in fact sources of deep esoteric teaching (even though I am decidedly not an esotericist).
8. Moses or Paul?Moses. I can empathize with his murder of the oppressive Egyptian. I understand his control-freakish nature that required Jethro to point out that he needed assistants. I'm with him in striking the rock the second time out of frustration and breaking the tablets out of irritation with idolatry.
9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?The teachings that are interpreted as referring to eternal damnation -- I'm pretty much a universalist.
10. Coolest name in the Bible?Zophar the Nephite.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
The essence of idolatry is to attribute to a creature attributes that properly belong to God. Only God is infinite -- we as humans are by definition finite in every respect. God is omniscient -- we are not. God is omnipresent -- we are not. God is eternal -- we are not, and only know eternal life through God's gift.
Infallibility belongs in this category. No human being, regardless of the office he or she holds, can ever make any statement that is infallible. Nor can any book or institution claim infallibility or inerrancy. The belief that was promulgated by the Roman Catholic denomination at its first Vatican council, that the bishop of Rome is infallible when speaking ex cathedra, is an attempt to claim for a human being something that properly belongs only to God. Similarly, the teaching of the Southern Baptist Convention and others that the Bible cannot contain error is an attempt to claim for a book something that properly belongs only to God.
The Scriptures are a great gift to us, and through them we come to know God's self-revelation through Jesus Christ, fully God (and therefore genuinely infallible) and fully human, and our great redemption through Christ's death and resurrection. We believe that bishops and other church leaders are given grace to lead the church. But to attribute infallibility to either the Bible or church leaders is to distort their roles and put them in the place of the God to whom both are meant to point.
Next, here is a picture from a couple of nights ago of both cats on the couch -- I've created a little cubbyhole for Allie, which she finds comforting -- I've concluded that she's somewhat agoraphobic:
Charles is not shy at all -- when friends were over for Vespers on Wednesday, he jumped up by one of them and promptly rolled over and demanded that she give him a bellyrub (a demand with which she happily complied).
Saturday, February 16, 2008
"The Son of Man shall come to the Father, according to the Scripture which was just now read, on the clouds of heaven, drawn by a stream of fire, which is to make trial of men. Then if any man's works are of gold, he shall be made brighter; if any man's course of life be like stubble, and unsubstantial, it shall be burnt up by the fire. And the Father shall sit, having His garment white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool Daniel 7:9."
Friday, February 15, 2008
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church by the precious blood of thy dear Son; Mercifully look upon the same, and at this time so guide and govern the minds of thy servants the Bishops and Pastors of thy flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no one, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons, to serve in the sacred Ministry of thy Church, And to those who shall be ordained to any holy function, give thy grace and heavenly benediction; that both by their life and doctrine they may show forth thy glory, and set forward the salvation of all men; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sadly, Charles has picked up an additional bad habit:
And I am happy to report that Allie is beginning to feel comfortable, at least some of the time, socializing with the rest of us rather than hiding under bed, couch, bookcase, or behind refrigerator:
Friday, February 08, 2008
Charles was named after a basketball player, Charles Barkley, who must have made of lot of touchdowns or RBI's or the like, but I have renamed him Charles Borromeo-w, as is more suitable for a cat living in a religious household. Sadly, he is a vandal and a user of recreational drugs -- he chewed open a bag of catnip his aunts Carol and Lyngine gave him and got high while I was at work one day, and has chewed holes in his food bag (despite there being food in his bowl) and a treat bag (all safely in cabinets now). But he is very sweet and affectionate, and follows me around hoping for a treat or a bellyrub, both of which he frequently gets. Here is a picture of him on one of the couches (he has taken naps on all four couches):
Allie is cloistered, observing strict enclosure. She spent the first day under a bookcase using the Lutheran Family Bible Game as a pillow (an ELCA pastor friend gave this to me some years ago), hiding behind the stacked Grove's Dictionary of Music (Third Edition). The second day, she spent under the one couch with flaps at the bottom that can hide her. The third day, she was under my bed, before finding the tiny area behind the refrigerator, where she spends most of her time now. I had a nice picture of her peering out from behind the refrigerator, but my cameraphone was full and it didn't save -- I'll try to take another one. In the meantime, here is a picture of her under the bookcase next to the Lutheran game -- which you can see much better than her face:
I hope to have better pictures next Friday!
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
One thing I always do is take off from work. I try to use the day as a day of reflection. The words that are traditionally used when ashes are placed on Christians' heads are "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", and it is a day to reflect on our mortality, and where our life is going, in the knowledge that, sooner or later, it is going to end. It is easy to become so busy that we don't take the time to stop and think about the larger picture in our life (and being clergy, it is easy for me to even become too busy with church to do this!) , and in general and in particular, gives us that opportunity to do that.
Often, funerals are a time when people, in the shock of grief, and realization that since life is short, they are not necessarily living as they wish they were. It might be helpful to think of as our own "funeral", where we come face to face with our mortality, mourn it, and come to terms with how it will affect our living. Of course, baptism is our "dying with Christ so that we might rise with Christ", and was traditionally the time of preparation for baptism, ending in the Three Days when we celebrate Christ's death and resurrection. So as we contemplate our deaths , we also look forward to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ at , which is a promise of our own resurrection.
Friday, February 01, 2008
(Don't they look more like they're playing than like they're attacking and eating good St. Ignatius?)
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Here is a picture of what that basking in Christ's light looks like:
We should be as eager to soak up the light of Christ as Clem (my feline houseguest) is to soak up the sunlight.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The first week she stayed with me, here was her favorite spot to sleep:
Here she is modeling some jewelry:
And here is a pose that expresses her personality quite well (my finger over part of the lens expresses my photographic expertise equally well):