Saturday, December 31

Wednesday, December 28

Don't be a rock if you want some bread

I'll have the loaves and fishes, please.
My dear friend Bill was talking about 'pro multis' and the new mass and I commented about 'false ecumencism'.  I replied that John 3 shows that there is nothing false about the universality of Christ's message, which is summed up in John 3:15-17. This comment, specifically regarding πᾶς versus πολλοί (all vs. many), led to a re-reading of Matthew 7 and, through that, a realisation that I should talk about something which I have believed for some time but  I may have not fully articulated, if actually addressed at all.

In John 3, Christ tells Nicodemus that all (πᾶς) who believe in the Son of Man will have life eternal.
In Matthew, Christ tells the crowds at the sermon on the mount that all (πᾶς) who ask, receive.  This resonates with the healing miracles which Christ does.  In every instance, there is an overt act of faith in Christ and his divinity which results in the miracle.Whether it is touching the hem of his garment, washing in Bethesda or as simple as a cripple who tries to stand when he is told to, they are concrete actions which demonstrate the people's trust and belief.

This all ties back into the Mat. 7 reading:

πᾶς γὰρ ὁ αἰτῶν λαμβάνει καὶ ὁ ζητῶν εὑρίσκει καὶ τῷ κρούοντι ἀνοιγήσεται. ἢ τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, ὃν αἰτήσει ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; ἢ καὶ ἰχθὺν αἰτήσει μὴ ὄφιν ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ;  For all who ask receive, and all who seek find, and all who knock, it will be opened. Which among you, mankind, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

Two things stand out here.  The first is that God will always give good fruits to his children who ask. The second part is that we have to ask.  To have the eternal life spoken of to Nicodemus, we must believe.  This is neither unilaterally dispensed nor irresistibly thrust down our throats, but rather something we must seek, we must ask for, we must want.  Lip-service won't do and being a lump waiting for Divine salvation doesn't cut it either.  We have to be active participants in the process.

Tuesday, December 27

Hullo...have you seen my bukkit, Mr. Carpenter?

Of all the things which happened this Christmastide, I will speak of something which happened a million miles from the altar.

I spent most of Boxing day with an acquaintance who I would now call a friend.  For the better part of a dozen hours, we spoke of many things...
of gays and God and ex-boyfriends,
of forensics and the King of Kings.

What was brilliant was talking at great length and substantive depth with someone about religious and spiritual matters who has actually put thought and energy into the topic.  What made such a discussion even more of interest and value is that this person has a worldview which is, at the kindest, wildly different from my own.

Part of the conversation set revolved around a number of what I would consider reasonably standard 'gotcha' matters for those who 'just believe'.  Topics like...OT vs. NT understandings of God, the role of the Devil, inconsistencies in scripture, NT canon and canonicity.  What really struck me about this whole exchange was his comment that how refreshing and odd to find someone who had answers.

This, of course, led to further conversations about the infantilization of religion, especially within the context of the US and Christianity.  Upon reflection, though, it is starting to become a more widespread phenomenon within the US.
 
How often is it that we just accept what we are told without question? 
How often is it that the lens of Hooker's Reason is focused on what 'we all believe' to be true?
When did it occur that common sense is neither common nor sensical?

synthesis - Turn, turn turn

"Of what avail is frock, or rosary,
Or clouted garment? Keep thyself but free
From evil deeds, it will not need for thee
To wear the cap of felt: a darwesh be
In heart, and wear the cap of Tartary."
- Sa'di, Gulistan




'Tis the gift to be simple, Its a gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
Will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed,
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right
- Joseph Brackett, Simple Gifts

...on the feets of Steven

One of the more iconic of the 'second tier' of Christmas carols is that of Good King Wenceslaus, which is based upon the legend of Duke Vaclav I of Bohemia who was martyred for his faith. Unfortunately, most of us don't get past the 'feets of Steven' (well, that's how WE sung it when I was 12) and fewer still grasp the whole of the story which the carol is telling. 

In brief, on the night after Christmas it is bitterly cold and snowy. The king sees a poor man out on such a night gathering sticks for a fire. He finds out where the fellow lives (some three miles, on the edge of the forest), and sets out personally with wood, drink and food to dine with this peasant. The point of this tale is contained in the last verse, which I quote:
Therefore, Christian men, be sure wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.
The 'good king' here doesn't invite the peasant into his house, nor to sup at his table amid the splendid finery.  No, he removes himself from his comfort to meet the poor man on his level, where he lives. Of course, that is what God-as-Christ did.  He became flesh to meet us where we are.  He shared the bitter cold and wintry nights, braved the snow and dark to sup with us where we live. That is the core of the Incarnation.

Thanks be to God.

Saturday, December 24

Merry Christmas

To all of those who come by my scribblinz (and I know who both of you are), I wish you a most beautiful, peaceful and happy Christmas.

I offer here two of my favourite Christmas songs for your Christmas day.




Thursday, December 22

Reflections on Yule vespers

Last night concluded our advent vesper series and it was marvelous and so very different.  As it was Yule, the theme was about darkness and light. The only light in the sanctuary was provided by the candles which covered the altar and environs (including the advent wreath). It truly was beautiful and the service, simple and unadorned, was very fulfilling.  The light/dark imagery really started to make me think about darkness, the night and other related things.

It is in the light that we believe that see clearly, where things are well known and we are comfortable.  During the day, we are consumed with the business of our lives, our jobs and all of the other 'stuff' which 'demand' our attention.  When darkness falls...real darkness falls.  That's when things change.

"In dark silence, comes whisperings of new beginnings."

It is at night when must we admit (if only to ourselves) we don't see things well, that even the most familiar seems alien and our confidences are shaken.  The rational, logical world of the day turns into some alternate realm where your non-rational mind shows itself.  It is in the darkness that your most basic fig-leaf, belief in your own senses, is ripped away and you are left with the painful discomfort of knowing that you don't know and that, in a very real sense, you can NEVER know.

"In dark silence, comes whisperings of new beginnings."

The Celts believed that nighttime is when the veil that separates this world and the next is thinner and I see that it is in the still of the night that one perceives things and ideas which the day blinded us to. Being shaken out of the rote of the Light allows for change and perceiving things differently affords the opportunity for growth.  If one can sit in that darkness and still the internal mutterings, there is much to learn, to see and to hear in that place which is What is needed to enable that growth and change is to be still, listen and wait.

"In dark silence, comes whisperings of new beginnings."

National Geographic reported some time ago about how our obsession with electric lighting is all but extinguishing the night.  It is becoming enough of an issue in parts of the world that 'dark-sky oases' are being established in first-world nations.  As people who have neither day nor night, we live by arbitrary, artificial, external schedules instead of the clock of the world (or even our own internal body clock). 

To really understand, to truly comprehend, we must go beyond and outside.  Sit in the dark silence and listen to the snow fall.  Accustom your eyes (both inside and out) to the darkness and hear the whispers of new beginnings.

Wednesday, December 21

the reading and the thought which came unbidden

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”


Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  (Ex. 32:1-5)

The way this nation worships the almighty dollar, I really wonder if we've traded in a golden calf for the brass bull above.

Tuesday, December 20

pebbles

There is an analogy used in Taoism (and Buddhism too, as I recall) that if your mind is clear and calm, it will be like the surface of a still pond.  Contrawise, if your mind is muddled or disturbed, then it is like a choppy lake, full of waves.

When a thought, an idea or some insight is given to you, it is a pebble dropped into the pond.  If you are still, the ripples echo out, affecting much more than the initial pebble. There is this wonderful and sneaky person in my life who wanders past every so often and, when I least expect it, she pitches a pebble and sits back with a gentle smile.

" It (the mystical) is a marvelous journey."  *plunk*

A lot of my personal angst? issue? trouble?....that's a good word....a lot of my personal trouble has been circling around the mystical and esoteric nature of my spiritual development.  The theology and religious stuff...that's written down and easy to understand.  It's reasonable, logical and rational.  But a lot of what's going on right now is flying blind on a moonless night.  There are no maps, no books and no flight plan that YOU can see.  It's you and Him and a whole lot of ignoring everything that's going on between your ears. Can you turn back?

"You can always say no, but you know this is gonna be AWESOME.  Trust me."  Thanks Dad.  :P

Faith is not belief without proof...it is trust without limits. 

With a comment, my friend tosses in another pebble and I recognize her as an agent of Her just as I can hear His chuckle in her laughter.

Blessings upon my dear sister-in-Christ, my crone.

Thanks to her and thanks be to God.

Lessons from the saints - Blessed Charles the Good

This is Charles the good, prince of Denmark, Count of Flanders and related to the Capetian rulers of France through marriage.  He was martyred while at mass, hacked to pieces over the love of money.

You see, Charles, like my beloved St. Homobonus, used his wealth and power for the benefit of the people.  He reformed laws to promote a more equal system of justice, clothed the naked, fed the hungry and distributed alms to the poor.  During the famine of 1124-25, he enacted laws to punish those who were price-gouging as well as established food distribution points, at one juncture giving away 7,800 loaves of bread in a single day.  Despite his exceptional generosity (even for the day), Flanders' coffers were not emptied.

The nobles committing the price-gouging (including one Fr. Bertulf FitzErembald) conspired and sent knights entered the church where Charles was at mass and hacked him to pieces on the spot.  Upon discovering the demise and circumstances surrounding the murder, the Flemish peasantry seized all involved and tortured them to death.

What can we learn from Charles?

That charity (in the general, handing out stuff meaning) does not mean putting yourself in the poorhouse to help those who already live there. 

That those who have means, influence and power have a greater responsibility to use that power for the good of all.

[note: originally written 2 March 2011]

Thoughts about confirmation

This weekend past we celebrated the sacrament of confirmation with four wonderful young men and women being welcomed as adults into our community.  The occasion and the homily attendant thereunto has brought to mind some reflections regarding this sacrament and it's importance in the past and present.

There can be a lot of discussion about 'vertical' component of confirmation and it's most common component which is mentioned, but I find that to be a red herring not unlike that of ordination into holy orders.  The journey to that sacrament is what matters in the spiritual dimension, not the ceremony itself.  That said, the 'horizontal' component of the sacrament is what I want to talk about.

Partly, it is a recognition of the church community that the confirmants are both adults and in the community.  In days past, this was of great significance and we still see this sort of 'coming of age' ceremony in certain cultures (Quinceañera, bar/bat mitzvah, etc.).  In today's western culture, though, I believe that it's significance is of lesser importance, as the general secular culture has far different cues as to a child becoming an adult.  This, btw, is a huge rant on my part, as we have culturally diffused and delayed this adulthood process to the point that it is hard to argue when it fully occurs.  Is it at 16 with the drivers license?  At 18, with voting and (probably) high school graduation? Is it at 21, when they can drink?  Is it at some undefined time when 'schooling' is over and they enter the workforce full time or when they move out of their parent's house?  Additionally, with the general rejection of specific denominations (and, more generally, organized faith systems), the 'seal of the Church' means far less than it did in an age when the church community was (effectively) the whole of the community.

In part, it is a public affirmation by the confirmants that they, after a lengthy education and discernment process, are willingly accepting the values of the church and dedicating themselves to applying said values. I find this to be a far more relevant and powerful portion of the process.  It is a public expression of a personal pledge to embrace the teachings of our faith and, more narrowly, the traditions and culture of the church.  In a time when organized faiths of any stripe are shedding people faster than an oak tree's leaves in October, to have youth affirm the relevancy of the church mission in their lives is heartening.

[note: originally written 14 November 2011]

Ahhh....the good old days

The rally cry of returning to the 'good old days' is one that fills me with deep ambivalence. For most of my life, it's been a code phrase about returning to some parallel universe version of the 1950's and 1960's, where "life was simpler and more carefree". You know...when McCarthy's Red Menace loomed around every corner, women, fags and negros better 'know their place or they'll get what they deserve' and the world was one step away from an atomic nightmare. Ah yes, good times.

In much a same vein, I hear and read a lot about going back to 'the roots' of the church...to the Early Church. What part of that would you like? The part where there isn't a bible yet, but conflicting third-hand accounts of what may or may not have been? How about the whole 'persecution' angle? You could be a martyr for real, then..it's quite fashionable, you know. There's always the whole "If you disagree with my theological positions, I'll slaughter you and your entire family" thing..that was popular.

My point isn't, in either instance, to say that 'those days' were universally bad, but rather we have a nostalgic tendency to consider another place and time to be much better than where and when we are simply because it's somewhere and somewhen else. This sort of nostalgia isn't new, either. Seneca disparages about 'these kids nowadays' over 2000 years ago and Cicero laments over the decline of society as Rome nears the apex of it's glory.

My point is that we should neither vilify nor lionize the past. Examine our history, our heritage. See what is good and bad with equal candor and consider what can be applied most readily for the highest good for the greatest number.

Bringing this back to the Church, there are advantages of a hierarchical structure...and advantages to a congregational structure.

[note: originally written 30 July 2010]

further thoughts about ortho-

The recent discussions regarding the divisions in other churches and the upcoming synod came together in a recent reading from Galatians.

"yet we know that a person is not counted righteous by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be counted righteous by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be counted righteous." (Gal 2:16)

So, it isn't by the cultural conventions or the strict adherence to sub-sub-sub-canons that we are saved? Seems that was a major point of Christ's message. Obeying the forms and minor points of the law are unimportant. What is important is basic belief in a few universal tenets and letting your conscience dictate your actions. Salvation doesn't come by eating fish on Friday, wearing certain clothes, saying 'hail Mary's' or praying [x] times a day in a very specific manner.

To me, that was a strong point of the Gospel lesson (woman with the alabaster jar) that was glossed over. The Pharisee, Simon, was a man who obeyed all the rules and knew all the 'right-thinking', the Orthodoxy. The 'sinful woman' didn't, yet she did what her heart told her was the right thing...she followed the 'right action'. Orthopraxis.

The point behind these practices is the application of specific beliefs, which gets me to the crux of the matter. More often than not, these sorts of practices derive from interpretations of concepts which may or may not apply to the present day. One example which springs to mind is the recitation of the Nicene Creed. The creed was developed in the fourth century and was used as an instrument of doctrinal definition to refute a series of heterodoxies. That's all well and good, but when the parishioners say the creed today, they do so ignorant of the 'heresy' they are refuting and don't really understand the import which the creed implies.

To honour traditions and to defend thoughts/beliefs which have minimal relevance in this day and age is neither right thinking nor right practice, but is a mindless echoing of the ghosts of the past.  In the discussion between the two ortho's, one would like to have both.  If one must choose, though, the good of 'doing' outweighs the good of 'thinking'.

[note: originally written 9 May 2010]

todays reading: you salty dog

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out." (Mt. 5:13)


The church is good, but if it loses its holiness, how can it be made holy again? It is fit neither for man nor beast; it is thrown out.

[note: originally written 19 November 2011]

inequality

No, actually, this isn't another gay post (despite what the image to the right may suggest).  Not really.  This is about how deep traditions of inequality drill down and how hard it is for good, smart, well-meaning folk to root them out.

I have a good friend who is both a catholic and an ordained pastor.  During a recent conversation, the Assumption was brought up and I mentioned my (admittedly heretical) opinion that I see it as distracting to the central message and that I didn't see the importance of it  and certainly don't see it as  worthy of pulling out the Infallible Stick.  My friend explained to me that it was exceptionally important , nay even vital as it proved that God accepted female flesh into heaven. 

I was gob-smacked. Here was a highly educated, articulate and deeply spiritual pastor telling me that girls needed 'extra proof' of the Divine's acceptance.

"What?  Why wouldn't God accept half of the world? That doesn't make any sense.", I say.

"That's because you weren't raised Catholic", she replied in a tone which explained the finality of the statement. 

Huh?  If you're Catholic, you're supposed to believe that God considers wimminz as second-class?  This would be the same 'Mary as Co-redemptrix' people, yes?  (One of these days, I should write up my Marian heresies, but I don't need that much hate today). Why would anyone need extra proof of Gods acceptance?

The answer appears is to be due to clerical leadership who were taught (and then taught others) a  Vatican I/Victorian model of femininity which is as out of whack with reality as the 'bra-burning feminazis'.  This isn't strictly a spiritual issue, but like so much of tradition, it has some roots in the Spiritual.  The whole 'weaker sex' idea harkens back to a time when you keep the woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  And (in this particular instance), I wouldn't blame Vatican I for this precisely.  That sort of attitude was not out of line for a moderate, God-fearing gentleman of the 1860's.  And that's the trouble, as the Victorian mindset far outlasted the Victorian period.

Vatican II brought the Church from the 1860's to the 1960's and should be lauded for it.  But, since then, the Roman Church has slid back into a 1950's mindset where 'modern women' are allowed to wear shoes, as long as wear heels when they stay in the kitchen and raise the (minimum of 2) kids. Meanwhile, the rest of western society has gone into the 21st century, where a women can wear a T-shirt and jeans (undergarments optional) and sit next to a guy who carries his own purse satchel on the same subway which will take them to the same job which pays each of them the same amount.
 
This reminds me strongly of the reading from Galatians 3 :  "Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

So, when I read about reproductive rights, female ordination, the 'male-female complementary model' or the non-straight 'issue', I keep coming back to this misguided notion that people are supposed to be a certain way (manly men, girly wimmins and obedient kids) or, at the very least, act a certain way which is to be dictated by an ecclesiastical authority composed of old, white guys who have never (officially) had sex (I've heard that altar boys don't count).

[note: post originally written 19 Oct, 2010]

Hints, allegations and things left unsaid

When you start a post, Blogspot saves your musings in a draft until you post.  I had written some of a post the other day and had to leave the thought unfinished.  Going back to it today, I noticed a number of drafts - hints of what I was thinking and things left unsaid.

To help clear out my queue and breathe life into these thoughts, the next few posts are thoughts from the past.  In some cases, I have written about the topic more fully since then.  In some cases, my opinions on the matter have matured a bit since the seed was planted.  Still, this blog is about my journey and observations along the way, so I think it's still valid.


Thursday, December 15

reflections on Advent vespers

aka...the post stream that will not end.

As I mentioned earlier, we share space with the Lutherans and, from time to time, we hold joint services which highlight both our differences and our commonality.  I truly believe that this is the way forward in regards to ecumenicism, to not water down our liturgies to a milque-toast level, but to show what both binds us together and allow it to be a teaching moment showing our unique ways we understand our relationship to the Divine.  Anyways, this year we have been holding advent vespers which highlight the meditative, Taizé tradition. 

I must say that I gain an incredible amount from Wednesday vespers, both during Advent and Lent and the 'non-traditional' aspect of this meditative service is exactly the sort of grounding which I am needing right now. 

With all of the uncertainty in my own life right now, as well as in the world at large, and how dark the future appears (both literally and metaphorically), I believe that our closing song really is appropriate.


thoughts, random and otherwise

There are about 5 posts I could make today....further analysis of the sexual violence report, commentary about the Census data showing half of the US are 'poor', discussion on the reading, my concerns about the uncertainties of employment or even my personal life (or lack thereof). There's a lot there, but I think I want to focus on other things for a moment.

As I may have mentioned before, our parish shares space with an old ELCA church filled with genuinely nice people who seem to honestly understand the thought of ecumenicism. We each worship in our own way and, thanks to working and worshiping together, have come to understand and respect our similarities and differences.

It's funny, but there are little things which I see, I notice, and they sink in and have a certain meaning or symbolism which niggles down into my subconscious. As I mentioned before, we are doing 'catchphrases' for Advent, short phrases which encapsulate the reading's meaning.

The second sunday was 'make ready' and there is a gold/brass latin cross which hangs by wires over the altar such that it appears to float in mid-air.  I recall this because as the homily went on about John giving the old pharisees an ear-ful, I looked up and noticed an errant sunbeam.

There, spotlighted by a shaft of light, was a small cobweb growing on this golden, shiny cross.  The more I gazed at it, the more it made me think of the priests in Jerusalem and Rome and all over.  It made me think about how organized faith enshrines things and laws as inviolate and eternal and how holding those old things in such reverence subverts their purpose and turns us away from God.  Someone during the week must have noticed them too, because the cobwebs weren't there next week...when we talked about 'make straight the way'.  *whistles innocently*

CDC report on sexual violence. We're not listening.

The CDC released a study today about rape and sexual violence which has rather deeply disturbed me.  According to the NISVS report:
  • approximately 45% of women and 22% of men are victims of sexual violence over their lifetimes. 
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men reported severe physical violence.  
  • 1 in 5 women reported having been raped, with 80% being under 25 and 42% under 18 when they were raped for the first time.
  • 1 in 71 men reported having been raped, with 28% of those being under 11 when they were raped for the first time.  
  • Nearly 40% of non-hispanic minority males surveyed reported rape, sexual violence and/or stalking. 

As disturbing as those figures are, here is where things really go pear-shaped.   The focus of this report is sexual crimes perpetrated by intimate partners.  Go back and re-read those numbers, because that is what we, as a society, are doing to those we love.  This isn't some frat party accident or bathroom stall happenstance, these are our husbands, wives, SO's and boy/girlfriends who are doing this.

If this is an indication of how messed up the collective understanding of how to express love and intimacy is, then perhaps some of the pronouncements from the prelates sound no less removed from reality than those to whom they are preaching to.

I can recognize and even rationalise the long-standing disconnect between social justice and capitalism and how we, as a nation, have delved into narcissism. The vilification and demonizing of certain groups (including my own), I can intellectually grasp as a defense mechanism and the age-old conflict of the 'Other' and how that can lead to man's inhumanity to man.

But this?

This?

"This I command you, that you love one another." (Jn. 15:17)

We're not listening.  Kyrie Eleison.

Wednesday, December 14

todays reading

Fr. Michael Judge
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.

"who's next?"
But if that wicked slave says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  (Matt. 24:42-51)

I would like to point out  one should take yesterday's reading in conjunction with the theme of this one.

Tuesday, December 13

not todays reading, what I was told to say.

The word of YWHW came to me, saying:

“Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen,
‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’

If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done.

And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right— if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.

Yet your countrymen say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so. Yet, O house of Israel, you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to his own ways.”(Ezekiel 33:1,12-20)

The word of YHWH.

Monday, December 12

miscellany

Ever since the RC potentates decided to rewrite their liturgy, it got me to thinking and a few things have been bouncing about my head for a while.  I figure I should put them to e-paper before I lose them.

I ask, oh Lord, that as we go about our daily lives, you prick our conscience :
That our thoughts become right thoughts.
That those right thoughts become right words
That those right words become right deeds.
Not for us, the Church or the world....but for you alone be the glory.  Amen.

A Pelagian's Confeitor.
Oh Lord, creator of all, You are the spark of the universe and are in all things, yet we are all too often blind to that spark.  In our deeds, we harm the world and, thus, You as well.  Kyrie Eleison.

Christ Jesus, you showed us that within our brothers and sisters lies the Divine, yet we are short-sighted and sometimes do not see this.  In our words, we harm our brothers and sisters and, thus, You as well..  Christe Eleison.

Holy Wisdom, you dwell within us as guide and counselor, yet we are foolish and sometimes do not listen.  In our thoughts, we harm ourselves and, thus, You as well..  Kyrie Eleison.

P: <sign of cross> May the Lord have mercy upon us, forgive us and lead us to everlasting life.
V: Thanks be to God.

Invitation to Communion
P: <holding aloft the cup and host> IDE! ECCE! VOICI! MIRA! BEHOLD! The Lamb of God! <pause> Happy are we who are called to this supper.

V: Lord, you have made me worthy to receive you. Only say the word and I shall be here.

P:Christ came not for a few, but for all.  This table is not meant for the select, but for everyone.  All are welcome!

Wednesday, December 7

The Synchratic method

I have discussed at some points in the past about synchronicity and how it seems to be a part of things in my life.  I finally understand (at least to an extremely limited part) why.  Socrates used a dialectic method of teaching.  Some Buddhists use koans.  For my beloved Coyote, it is the Synchratic method.   As I have said a thousand times "once is chance, twice is coincidence, thrice denotes a pattern."  So, this is how it works in practice.

"Hey Tim.  Here's something you probably want to see."

"Ya Dad, whatever. Kinda busy here with this unimportant thing"

"Here it is again.  It's kinda cool."

"huh....yah, right."

"Remember this?  you may wanna look at it."

"OHH, Hey there. Look at that!  Wow, that's a brilliant idea.  Thanks!"

"Such a smart kid." *chuckles*


Monday, December 5

If wishes were fishes.....

Reading Colkoch's post about Bishop Eddie Long, it made me come back to something which I've said in person but I don't believe I have ever articulated here.  One of the more common visualization games that I have played (along with 'win the lottery') is 'if you had one wish for others, what would you wish for'?  This sort of imagining game is of value and interest because it reveals much about the person.  Originally, the exercise ignored the phrase 'for others', but I find it more instructive to give a gentle prod so that the questioner is encouraged to see how they would like to see change in the world.

World peace is a common answer, as is a cure for cancer, removal of suffering and an end to hunger.  Of course, I've got to be different (it's never that simple, is it?).  I would desire that everyone know the consequences of their actions. 

Consider this and consider it carefully.

Free will is, in no way, abrogated or restrained.  That said, each person would know what the effect that their thoughts, words and deeds would be and let their conscience (and/or the Spirit, as you determine how that sort of thing works) be their guide. 

Thus, Bishop Long would still have the capability to 'mess around' with male teenagers, but he would know how that sort of chicanery will harm the boys.  Similarly, certain prelates within the RC church would have the free will to decry anyone as 'unworthy', but every person who turns away from God because of their words will be known to said prelates.

So, um...yah.

Advent - words and experience

For advent this year, our parish is using certain word phrases found in the scripture readings.  These phrases are put onto business cards that are handed out to parishioners as well as being scribed on a sign that is attached to the altar.  Last week, the phrase was 'Stay Awake' (from the Gospel), which engendered multiple amusing comments about homiletic style and such. 

This week was 'Make Ready' (from Isaiah) which is echoed in the reading about the coming of John the Baptist. The thrust of the homily was that what we were to make ready for and how that comes about could very well defy our own expectations (as, no doubt, it did Zachariah) and that what God intends quite frequently clashes with our grand designs. Much was also made of talking about the Desert/Wilderness and what that means in the jewish context.  The Wilderness is where the scapegoat is cast out into and where the 'demons' live.  It is the 'beyond' where decent, god-fearing folk never travel.  But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

The first Saturday evening of each month, one of our sister parishes holds a Celtic service and I make sure to put everything aside to go.  They have a wonderful faith community and the liturgy is a very different and quite valid way of worship.  At the conclusion of the mass, each of us were invited to turn to the person beside us, hold their face in our hands and, look into their eyes, saying (among other things) 'you are the face of Christ'.  Though I cognitively recognized what was going on, Dad had different plans, as I was to find out later in the evening. 

A friend of mine invited me out later that evening, as part of the 'get the hermit out of his cave' program.  OK, fine.  So we went to a club (which I don't do) and more specifically, a gay bar (which I've never done) that was holding some big shindig, so all these people he knew were going to be there (do you smell a setup, cause I sorta did).  I have a strong impression of precisely who I am and am not interested in and the sort of person who frequents 'those places' doesn't fall into that impression.  After all, it's one of 'those places', you know.  I'm one of those people who tend to observe rather than actively participate and, being in an unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable setting, that's what I did.  The more I watched, the more my understanding and impressions changed, dropping judgments and preconceptions.  Then, it all clicked. 

The realisation that what I have read and said in the past became what I saw.  The Christ within, the Christ in all - a disparate group of individuals suddenly visualized as a multi-locational unified entity and, for a shining moment, that inner Divine was revealed to me. I must admit I was intermittently giggling for most of the rest of the evening.  Then, the next morning, I hear the homily mentioned at the first, about the Wilderness and making ready and how God's plans are often very much not what we expect.

There, in the 21st century Christian wilderness, the face of Christ.  Thanks be to God.