Friday, October 29

Roman church and teh Dignity folk.

In a comment made over at In Exsilium, a fella said that gay folks were intimately aware of their own failings because they are brought up at every opportunity and, because of that, the Dignity masses were more grace-filled than pre-V2 masses.  The comment pretty instantly brought to mind last Sunday's gospel reading, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

'Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’  But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." '(Luke 18:9-14)

Now, I can make a wonderful homily linking homosexuals with tax collectors, but that's where I get stuck.  Matthew (and the dude in the parable) chose to be a tax collector.  Jimmy and Susie didn't choose to be gay.  They are no less or more prone to sin, to failure than the tax collector OR the pharisee in the story.  How does that go again, Paul? "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God".

That said, I will make a link between the Pharisee and the modern church.  The Pharisees were holy lawyers, pious men who studied the scriptures and understood the law intimately.  Further, they believed in ensuring purity of faith in the face of secular assimilation.  In scripture, they are quick to judge others.

Both men in this parable believe and pray.  The upright man who is admired by the community is no more or less righteous by his nature than the morally questionable man who is an anathema in polite society.  Performing rites and making external shows of faith do nothing for the disposition of one's soul. Religion isn't about you or what others think about you.

It's about Him.

It is about loving Him and loving your neighbour. 

That is what religion is about.

Random thoughts

If ordination marries the priest to the Church, does that mean that....

...the Church approves of divorce via defrocking priests?

...deacons are the BFF of Christ?

...since the Church is also the Bride of Christ, God is ok with polyamoury?

...the Pope is the Mother-in-Law who must be obeyed?

This is the sort of thing that happens when I'm allowed to wander the blogosphere unattended.

Thursday, October 28


It's funny, after a fashion.  The more I read about current events, the more ambivalent I become.

On the one hand, there is part of me which is filled with both rage and sadness.  Anger steeped in righteous indignation at those who would cause my brothers and sisters to stumble, who would spew the spittle-flecked invective of intolerance and would feign the power and usurp the authority of the Divine.  As hot as my rage burns against these people, it is cooled by the tears I shed for those who suffer under these people, for those honest and truth-seeking individuals who are misguided and misdirected, turned away and shunned.  Most of all for those who mistake a church for God and, as they are rejected by the former believe that they are rejected by the latter.

And this anger and sorrow leads me to sounding like Habakkuk. 

"How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?  I cry out to You, “Violence!” yet You do not save.

Why do You make me see iniquity,and cause me to look on wickedness?  Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld.  For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted."

In short, "DUDE! WTF?!?!"(insert wild gesticulations and finger pointing).   No, my version is not nearly so prosaic, but is a better reflection of my conversations with the Divine and the personal nature of the relationship.

To which the Lord God YHWH replies,

"This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.   If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."

Which, in my parlance ends up being. "Dude....chill.  Trust me, I got it covered." As silly and stupid sounding as that may seem, when Dad says that, the effect is the proverbial Balm of Gilead.  All of a sudden, it makes sense and things are in focus.  Of course.  Everything will be fine.  Relax.

He's aware...and knows what's best...and has it all under control.  Just trust Him. 

You know...have faith.


"Trust me." 


"Tim.  Trust  me."

Yes, sir.

Monday, October 25

Alan Watts on Faith

Faith is a state of openness or trust.

To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don't grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink.

You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on.

In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
 - Alan Watts

lessons from the saints - Crispin and Crispinian

To those of you of a thespian bent, I must disappoint in discussing the feast today, for unlike so many in England abed tonight, I shan't consider my manhood cheap this nor any other day. Yes, indeed, it is Saint Crispan's day, (or, more correctly, the feast of Crispan and Crispinian, whom the Bard calls Crispian).

Twofold lessons are today, as fitting being doubled saints. The first regards the men themselves, of ancient and noble lineage who denied their imperial position in Roman life for the King of Kings. Plying the trade of cordwainery by night, the pair would preach the good word and donate to the poor by day. Their acts of kindness and Christian virtue did not go without notice in Gaul, as France was called in those days, and they were arrested and brought to trial.  During the trial, they were both threatened with torture and death as well as offered status and wealth by the co-emperor.

Their reply was simple:
"Thy threats do not terrify us, for Christ is our life, and death is our gain. Thy rank and possessions are naught to us, for we have long before this sacrificed the like for the sake of Christ and rejoice in what we have done."

The pair were taken at their word by these gaulish pagans and the gentle shoe-makers were tortured horribly and then slain (though it took several times to strike them down, it seems).  The lesson to be seen is clear, dear friends, in that rank and wealth mean naught to the true children of God. and that we should consider the example of Crispan and Crispinian, noble men, both, who gave up nobility and became craftsmen in service to a carpenter's son, making their faith shown in deed and action most noble in face of consequence dire.

The second lesson comes from the Bard himself and his referencing of these hallowed people, albeit in passing. I say this for Crispin and Crispian were brothers, though in blood or in the Spirit I cannot truly say, and it is important for each and every to recall that we too are a band of brothers (and sisters), bound by blood most sacred and flesh hallowed to a co-fraternity which stretches past the veil of death and beyond the ages.

Therefore, my beloved kindred, know then that when any one of us stands apart, willing to challenge and rebuke, not for the sake of ourselves or the Church, but for the Kingdom and the perfection of Christ on earth, that you do not stand alone. At your back is a host of brothers and sisters who are here with us now and have gone on before that see the good work, have fought the good fight and still stand to kindle the fire within us to do what is best for His glory.

Thus, gentle kin, stand a tiptoe this and every day for the Lord our God.

Saturday, October 23

A brief musical break

Several years ago, I was, briefly, part of the Columbia House Borg.  I have done penance for this, to be sure, but during this dark time they sent me a few disks which I specifically didn't ask for.  Most of them were pop trash which I gifted to others more appreciative.  One I kept was this one about Celtic Women.  Fast forward 5 years and it's turned into a 'heavy rotation' CD, in large part because of the song below.

Friday, October 22

Storm Clouds and the Sacred Church

Reading my blog-friends posts, the religious news seems to be centered around populi versus auctoritas.  You have what appears to be a fundamental disconnect between the needs of the faithful and the dictates of the organization.  This is not, I would note, a problem specifically with Rome or Canterbury (though they are the most visible as of late) but rather it is within nearly any organized religious structure which is based upon theological principles that have not been seriously examined since Pascal's Pensées and haven't been 'reality-checked' for relevancy since men landed on the moon.

Today's reading is from Luke 12:54-57.
Then Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud coming in the west, you immediately say, ‘There's going to be a storm,’ and that's what happens. When you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It's going to be hot,’ and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, yet you don't know how to interpret the present time? Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?" 
I'm sorry, Jesus.  I couldn't hear that last bit over the church telling me who I should love, how I should worship and which way I should vote.  Could you repeat that?

Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?

What? Seriously?   *sighs, exasperated*

OK Look...this sort of thing has to stop.  First it was free love, then you've got free will and free eternal life and now this.  How's a church supposed to earn a buck with this damned hippy around giving everything away?

Thursday, October 21


Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion must look out on the world.

Yours are the feet with which He is about doing good.

Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.

- Saint Teresa of Ávila

Tuesday, October 19

We are all connected

I had a long and involved post written about things of 'importance' and 'relevance' to people, etc. etc. Upon reading it before posting, I realised that it was all of that and had nothing of real value and I deleted it. So, instead of something funny or 'important', have some neat music from John Boswell at Symphony of Science.

Monday, October 18

Two, oddly related issues

AKA, why Tim shouldn't be allowed to free-associate.

So, ordination of women and same-sex relationships are the two hot buttons in the Roman church right now.  In my brain's fevered attempts to keep relevance, it noted something really interesting and amusing.  Through the vast majority of the Roman church's history, it self-identified as being the 'Bride of Christ'.  Paul uses this imagery extensively, as do many mystics and theologians down through the ages. It has been even used as a reason for the celibacy of nuns.

If the Roman church says that only opposite-sex marriage is valid, does that mean the only people who should be priests are women?  The only people who are to be in the church are women?

Does that mean that priests are in a celibate, homosexual relationship with the King of Kings?  It certainly would mean that all the male parishioners are and nobody in the Church is saying that being a good Catholic is 'intrinsically disordered'.

Oh, right...the 'new and never changed' belief is that priests ARE Christ and since Christ was a guy, then all priests need to be guys.  That means, then, that the ordained members of the Church are Christ...and the Bride is also the Groom.  It still means that the male laity is gay for the priest, bishop, Christ.

Yes, these questions are tongue-in-cheek and outline how easily we can tie ourselves in knots about things.

In seriousness, we are all the children of God, equally worthy of His love, mercy and grace.  Straight or not, male or female, slave or free, greek or jew, clergy or laity, we are all the Body of Christ.  Trying to divide the Body and expecting it to flourish is as silly as cutting off one's hand and expecting it to function.

Love God, do good and keep your nose clean.  It really is that simple.

Day 21: Still no questions

So...yah.  No, I haven't been blogging as much as I prolly should for the last couple of weeks.  A bit of it has been work, but a lot has been that I'm running low on new things to say. 

Let me explain.

I have been seeking and asking and pursuing for almost 30 years now.  About 3 weeks ago, Dad gave me all the answers.  I figured that it may be a developmental plateau or a stage or something.  Now, it's starting to really sink in that it's not just a phase or something I ate, but a more permanent effectual change.


You see, a lot of my personal identity has been bound up over the years with being a questioner, an observer and analyzer.  Now?  Now I have a working model which neither denies nor engages questions, analysis or observation, but rather turns the whole process on it's head.  My rational mind has spent the majority of the last three weeks racing like a chihuahua on crystal meth, desperately attempting to find a chink in the armour...some niche in which to grab on.  It's pretty much lost the fight, at this point.  I am sure that there is some philosophical terminology that describes what I'm referring to, probably associated with Taoism or Buddhism.  Not that it matters.

So, I'm out of questions.  Day by day, the screaming and hollering of that logical mind that has to have a puzzle to solve is becoming fainter.  Not sure where things go from here, but Dad does and he'll let me know when it's time.

Thursday, October 14

Lessons from Saints - Pope Callistus I

Today is the feast of pope Callistus I, martyr and saint. Born into slavery, he was owned by a Christian. Wrongly accused of theft, he was sentenced to work in the tin mines of Sardinia. He was bought out of slavery by a priest and became the caretaker of a cemetery on the Appian way, when he was ordained as a deacon. From there, he became an arch-deacon, then the sixteenth pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Callistus is known primarily for his heretical beliefs, such as allowing women into religious study, permitting bishops, priests and deacons to remarry, allowing those who have performed penance to receive communion, and condoning marriage outside of one's own social status. Legend has it that he was martyred by a riotous mob who threw him into a well with a millstone around his neck.

Callistus held a model of the church where mercy and love ruled the house of God, where people were brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of social status and where forgiveness and tolerance was vital to the body of Christ.

We could learn much from him.

Callistus, may we learn from your example and build a church filled with forgiveness and tolerance. Inspire us to work for equality and justice knowing that mercy flows from God and love of the other is at the heart of Christ's teachings.

Thanks be to God.

P.S. - I find it interesting to note that Pope Callistus I was never formally ordained a priest and that it was commonplace (perhaps even expected) in that time that ordained clergy of all levels to be married.

It gets better

I'm not much for re-posting and becoming an echo-chamber. However, watching video after video in this series, the one group of people who seems to be unwelcoming, judgmental and intolerant is the church. Thus, given the speaker and the message, I'm ok with re-posting this.

Wednesday, October 13

I kan haz U-ker-ist?


I've been attempting to write something insightful, meaningful or even witty, but I have no brain.  For over thirty years, I've been constantly asking questions, looking for answers and wanting Father to provide insight.  Well, He did.  So, now, for the first time ever, I'm without questions.

I look at current events and see nothing worth saying much about.  It's all so transparent, shallow and, well, I know what's important will be handled by the Boss (no, I don't mean Bruce Springstein) and if there's anything for me to add or help with, He knows I'm ready.

The readings are so plain that making commentary would be re-inventing the wheel.  I stare outside at the wonderful, glorious view of Creation and just giggle like a school-girl, cause it's so obvious that a blind man could see.

So, I sit here, listening to Gaelic Storm (wonderful Irish-celtic band with funny music), typing over the cat in my lap while the dog snores away on the couch to my right.  What could I possibly say at this point?

Duh! There is ONE thing.

Thanks, Dad.  Glory and honor are yours.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us, have an adorable kitten cause...well...adorable kitten.

Tuesday, October 12

Like a neutered dog...I just don't get it.

Ok...I'm going to admit a failing on my part.  I've read and listened and thought about this at some length and I keep coming up with goose eggs.

From pretty much everything I've read and studied, the central message of Christ's teaching, the sum of all the law and all the prophets, is to love God with all you've got and to love your neighbor (which I read to be all of God's creation) as yourself.

If this is so, then why are christian groups, who espouse that they follow Christ's teachings, so full of hatred and disdain for those who they deem unworthy? 

Even assuming that these organizations believe (wrongly, in my opinion) that those who are 'unworthy' are the enemies of their faith, Christ says that one should love your enemies.  How can someone declare that they follow the Prince of Peace and yet openly promote violence?  How can someone worship God (who is love) and yet advocate hate?  How can anyone say that they follow that Nazerene man who said 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' and yet deny the Bread of Life and Saving Cup to any who earnestly desire it or condemn another person for how they were born?

No, I'm not posing rhetorical questions or trying to be sarcastic (despite what it may seem).  These are questions asked in earnest.  There must be something I'm missing here, some text or principle which eludes me, for this thought process seems deeply ingrained in most all of the Christian faiths.  Many of you who read this blog are far more learned and experienced in these sorts of things, so I am turning to you for assistance.  Please enlighten me.

Thursday, October 7

Lessons from Saints - Sergius and Bacchus

Today is the feast of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, the first and most prominent of the 'paired' saints.

Sergius (aka Serge) and Bacchus were highly-placed roman soldiers and gay lovers (ἐραστἐς) at the turn of the 4th century AD.  Favoured of Emperor Maximianus, they rose to some stature until their love of Christ was discovered.  Bacchus was tortured to death and Sergius was tortured and then beheaded.  To the end, they loved both our Lord and each other.  The story of their martyrdom, known as the Passion of Sergius and Bacchus, is considered one of the first well documented cases of martyrdom and they are some of the very earliest saints to be venerated in the manner we know now.

Do note, the Romans had no great issue with their homosexuality.  Neither did the people of the early church.  Some of the later hagiographic stories refer to them as 'brothers' or don't mention their relationship at all, but the early sources are rather plain about their relationship as being far more than 'brotherly' in nature.

I believe a more salient and enduring lesson can be derived from these early martyrs, however.

Given the recent epidemic of hatred, intolerance and fundamentally unchristian behaviour by so many (especially by those who call themselves follower of Christ), I believe it would be instructive to recall the words echoed by Saint Sergius in the hour of his death.

"For you wish all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. When you lay death upon them (the pagans who were to kill Sergius), accept their repentance, Lord, and do not remember the sin of ignorance which they have perpetrated against us for your sake. Enlighten the eyes of their minds and lead them to the knowledge of you."

Merciful father,
I pray that those who have been victims of hatred and intolerance find your compassion and love in both this life and the next, no matter how they may cross that bridge.

I pray that those who have inflicted these pains be enlightened to the suffering they have caused, may their hard hearts softened to the plights of those about them and know the forgiveness and tenderness of your mercy if they turn from their errors and ask for reconciliation.

I pray, oh Lord, that you would show unto us all  that same mercy and love, and I pray that we may be able to show that same mercy and love to those who do such injustices to both ourselves and to my brothers and sisters, who are all of creation.

I pray that we may have the strength of Serge and Bacchus to stand up for what is right, believe when all are against us and run the good race for your glory oh Lord.


Monday, October 4

Billy and Francis and Tim

It's been three weeks since I blogged about Billy Lucas.  I have a pic of him here at work, staring back at me with a soft yet piercing gaze, a silent reminder of what could have been and what could be prevented.  In the last three weeks, five more boys have died by their own hands.

Died because of intolerance.
Died because of insensitivity.
Died because of indifference.

Francis of Assisi said "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."

Paul exhorts Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

Timothy was a boy about Billy's age when that was written, about the age I was when I first heard the Voice within. Timothy is my name too.

Stand up for what's right. Stand up for your neighbor. Stand up for God.

A single voice can make a difference.
A single action can save a life.
A single person can, and did, change the world.

Lessons from Saints - Francis of Assisi

Today is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Of all the saints (other than the BVM), this is the most difficult person for me to write about.

When we read about the simplicity and rustic nature of Francis' life, it is easy to forget his origins. He was educated and of money, urban and refined. The essence of his tale is that he gave all of that up. Rather than attempting to rephrase brother Thom's wonderful post about Francis or attempting to create yet another summary of his life, I will cut straight to the point.

We, as humans and especially as creatures of  21st century western culture, are suffused with a crowd of things and a near inexhaustible demand on our attentions. This very medium by which you are reading this is a vortex of distractions. I don't need a fancy this, or a shiny new that.  I don't care about Beiber or Brietbart or the Broncos.  That's not what life is about.  It isn't what following God is about.

Also?  Following God isn't about altar rails, gays in church, women in orders, liturgies in latin or commands from the curia.  All of those things are human-generated, human focused.  Francis shows us that, reminds us of that.

Love God and treat all of God's creation with respect and care.

Thank you brother Francis, for preaching the gospel at all times.  May we, like you, be an instrument of God's Peace.

Friday, October 1

Job - that reminds me of a funny story

The OT reading today is from Job, wherein YHWH questions the eponymous character.  For reasons I don't know (and prolly shouldn't think too hard about), I can't keep from hearing the voice of this old NY jewish guy in my head as I read this.

"Oy, you're zo schmat?  Zo tell me, den, schmat guy..."

at which point Job gets quizzed about things which physics and chemistry have been starting to figure out in the last 50 years or so.  This leads me to a funny story (cause this is how my brain works) which also has the same old guy's voice as well as the same message that Job is on about.

A cadre of brilliant scientists go to God and speak to Him.  "Oh God, we know that you were great for the human race in the past, but your creation has surpassed it's creator," they say.  "We have evolved beyond a need for you or your wisdom."

"Ach, iz dat zho?" says the Almighty, Lord of all Creation.
"Oh yes," say the scientists. "We can control the wind, manipulate the waves, even create life itself.  We have no need of you."

"Create life, you zhay, ya? Vell den, I have unt bahrgain," sayeth the Lord.  "Ve shall bot make unt human being from dirt alone, yah?  If hyu can recreate my greatest miracle, zhen I shall leave hyu in peace.  If not, zhen hyu must recognize Me az Gott und not hyour szience."

The scientists all huddle and whisper...plan and collaborate and draw up proposals.  At length, they agree that it could be done and go back to the Lord God.  "You have a deal."

So, the Almighty stretches forth his upturned hand and the dust of the earth appears in it.  He forms the earth into the shape of a man, breathes into it and it comes to life, a new Adam.  "Zhere.  Now hyu tryz it"  And God turns and starts to walk away.

The scientists stop him.  "God?  We need the earth to challenge you."

"Ach, look at zhe schmat guy.  Ya, vell, you vant to be Gott? Make your own Earth."

well...I thought it was funny.  :)