Friday, September 30

pls 2 ignorez, ktksbai

I now understand why the mechanic's car never runs properly.  Even when you do get around to looking after the beast, it is so much easier to see the answers to other peoples problems than your own.


Thursday, September 29

Lessons from the Saints - Archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael

Today is the feast of the Archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael (formerly Michaelmas).  I have put some thought into reinforcing last years post about Mike, but in searching for a suitable image for today, something struck me which resonates. There is page after page of images depicting angels in glory with streaming light and awesome, but either by themselves or entirely over-awing and overshadowing the 'normal' people in the image (as seen at left).

Trouble is that it entirely undermines the purpose of what angels (and archangels) are about.  It is not about the pretty boi with the wings and the shiny halo.  It is about Who sent said angel and why they were sent.  If, as in the case of Gabriel, it is to deliver a message, the message is important and not the messenger.  If we are talking about Michael, it is about G-d, not he whose name asks "who is like G-d"?

When you read the story of Tobit, Raphael doesn't spread his wings and speak with a voice like a trumpet.  He spends the story as Azariah, a kinsman and friend to Tobias, working with him by giving sage advice and useful assistance rather than commanding from on high.  In short, he is the Raphael of the image to the right, not above.  At any point, Tobias could have ignored the advice, refused the assistance and gone his own way. 

I guess that's where this is going (and no, this is not where I started at all).  Even the greatest of angels are our brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Divine who do their part in the great plan just as we do ours.

When we look to them, or to any of the saints, for inspiration, guidance and assistance (and I see no reason why we shouldn't), we should take care to recall that they labour for the same end as we should - the glory of G-d.

Wednesday, September 28

intersections of thought and story

Thinking about things again...still...and the thoughts are still coalescing.  That said, lets seee what comes out of my fingers.  The NT reading for today is one I am not familiar with.
Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that 'no idol in the world really exists,' and that 'there is no God but one.' (I Cor. 8:1-4).
From here, Paul says that even though we understand what is and is not important (in this case, consumption of food sacrificed to idols) not everyone may and that we must take special care not to do/say things which would cause others to stumble because they may not understand.  What pops out like a 3-d kids book is that short statement.

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."  An alternate translation would be that Knowledge fosters arrogance but love strengthens us.  As someone who has focused much of my life on 'knowing'....That stings.  It stings because I feel the truth in it.  As I have said before, I am not entirely discounting the importance of learning, but without the heart, the head is naught but an adding machine.  This, in an odd way, brings me to a story about the recently deceased sister Mary Whited who was summoned to defend herself and the 'possible heresies' of her order (you may recall this was during the unofficial inquisition of the nunneries).

Speaking before the head of the Inquisition CDF, Cardinal Rodé, her message to his Holiness (who would, of course, decide the case) was simple. 

         And I said, ‘Tell him we are faithful.’ And he said, ‘Is that all?’ And I said, ‘That is enough.’ ”

We are faithful.  We are filled with love.  We have hope for the world, an well as our own parts in it.

That is all.  That is enough.

Monday, September 26

one grain of truth

As I said before, I seem to have developed a mental winnowing fan, separating the wheat from the chaff in matters of religion, theology and such.  A particular kernel of Truth which has been presented I shall pass along to you forthwith, though I shall warn you that it is a hard seed which may taste bitter.

I see, now, that the vast majority of the problems facing the world and the Church are of our own making and not of God.  Futher, the solutions to those problems are within our purview (our mess, our cleanup). 

The economic, environmental and socio-political crises which presently plague our world are principally rooted in the 'benign avarice' of western capitalism.  There are specifics I could mention and various examples I can give, but boiled down to its simplest form we have abandoned the future for the now and jostled our neighbour aside to get our heads into the feeding trough.  Social Darwinism and our ability to vote ourselves a 'free lunch' has put us all on the endangered species list.

Putting a more personal and painful angle on this is the one year anniversary of Billy Lucas' death, punctuated with Jamey Rodemeyer's demise.  When teens like Jamey or Billy or Jim or Tyler or Seth or Raymond or Asher or Carl or the scores whose names we don't know...when they prefer to take up arms against this sea of intolerance and hatred rather than suffer the slings and arrows of that grave misfortune, we are all complicit in their deaths.  We, individually and collectively, have stood by and done nothing while these kids called for help.  They looked for someone to save them, to care about them, to comfort them and society (individually and collectively) was too interested in its own personal concerns to care for them.  Been there, seen that.

Where is God in all of this?  Simple.  As a responsible and loving parent, He has given us the rules by which She wishes us to live and then has stood back and is letting us (individually and collectively) choose to follow them...or not. But what if it all goes down the crapper?
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! (Deut. 30:19)
In short, it is OUR choice.  We can love each other, work for justice and tend to the stranger.  We can love our possessions, work for 'just us' and tend to our mutual funds.  We can save the world or be a party to its destruction.  We can prevent another funeral or dance upon a child's grave.

Your choice.  My choice.  Our choice.

Kyrie Eleison

We are experiencing trancendental difficulties....

For those of you who read this blog regularly (and I know who both of you are), you may have noticed a distinct and sudden decline in postings.  Part of that is due to mundane workload, as August and September are the truly busy times of the year for me and much of my blogging (or thinking about what I am going to blog) happens while I'm at work.

Much more serious and significant is that I've come to a bit of a wall and this was highlighted by the Sunday homily, wherein Fr. Teri talked about the questions we ask and how that reflects upon the person you are. 

Trouble is, I've pretty much stopped asking questions (at least, in the way she was talking about).  There are times when I do have some conundrum that flickers across my mind, but it is as easily banished by the answer which flies up from memory, clothed in the armour of Reason and brandishing the shield and sword of Tradition and Scripture.  I carry about with me a mental winnowing fan and have resolved the few kernels of Truth from so much chaff which calls itself dogma, doctrine, theology and religion.  One of these kernels will be mentioned in the next post.

The other matter which haunts my mind is the problem of being alone.  It's been about a year and a half now, yet each night I long for a voice to answer me as I come through the door, someone to cook for, to fall asleep next to, to wake up beside and to just be with.  There are a lot of dark and depressing thoughts, pitfalls and generally nasty places that this subject conjures, so I'll not focus on it overmuch here other than to say that it's a delicate balance between being still/listening and actually being proactive in the situation.


Wednesday, September 14

taking pride in a rainbow

Synchronicity is something which has been happening more and more to me in the past year.  One could say that it is the paw of the Divine, one could say that it simply that I am being more observant.  The bottom line is that it happens and happens a lot.  To wit, the tale below.

Our parish is putting on a series of thought provoking seminars about contemporary social issues.  The first set is about homosexuality and it is instructive to recall that our parish is mostly of the 'boomer' - 'mature' vintage.  The presenters of the series (proud PFLAG parents) explicitly asked me to come and join their seminar because I'm a genuine gay person, you know, and they'd like to have 'the real thing'...or something like that.  Raise awareness, dispel myths and boldly come out to the parish all in one shot? Sure!

At work, we are doing a week-long series of seminars on cultural diversity and to kick the week off, we invited a local professor of cultural studies to speak about such things.  The gentleman was an excellent speaker and although he didn't really mention gender preference or identification, one of his points struck home - that people are people first and parts of stereotypical groupings second.

As I am driving to an appointment yesterday afternoon, I was thinking about these things and trying to come up with some cogent, reasonable and original thoughts.  That's when I saw this beautiful rainbow which made me stop in my tracks (figuratively).  It was bright and shining against the darkened clouds with a reflection not unlike the image above.  The image brought to mind the pride flag with it's colours representing unity in diversity, but something there didn't sit right.  The pride flag has six distinct colours, each crisp and differentiated from each other.  Looking at the genuine article (as above), one notes that those neat, clean divisions are absent and that the spectrum of colour is contiguous. 

There it is.

We don't fall into neat, distinct little boxes, crisply differentiated from our neighbours who live 'over there'.  Instead, we are all on our own wavelength, each of which rests next to the others in a tapestry of life but still unique and special.   No two of my friends are identical - emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually or spiritually.  We all are on that continuum of the rainbow and although some stereotypes can apply to any of us, no stereotype truly defines who we honestly are.  We are all unique individuals created in the image and likeness of the Divine.  

Tuesday, September 13

Celtic liturgy and practice

The past few weeks have been preparation for Saturday mass.  As the title of the post suggests, it was a celtic liturgy.  What does that mean?  Means a bunch of stuff in both the practice and philosophy.

The most obvious thing about the mass was the music, which was principally the wonderful music of br. Stephan Waligur.  There's no SLJ/OCP low-mass guitar stuff here, but rather a mashup of Taize meets Riverdance which seems to resonate with many of 'celtic' descent as if you tapped their lizard brain and poured 25yo scotch.

The other difference revolves around the change in liturgy and, more importantly, the reasons for the change.  The philosophy is that there is no break between the supernal and natural world.  Put differently, it is a rejection/refutation of the Manichean break between the good and enternal spiritual vs. the evil and temporary material.  The implications of this single shift are more profound and pervasive than one would initially anticipate.

If the supernal and natural are the same, then we talk about the Christ within/the Christ in all.  We as creations of the Divine are not marked by original sin (why would a benevolent Deity do such a thing? c.f. Luke 11:5-13), thus the Confiteor is mostly obscelesced.  I mean, yes, we sin and we do look for forgiveness, but that is because we're short-sighted and easily distracted from what is important, not because of come Calvinist/Augustinian idea of being worthless from conception as part of 'the Plan' by a loving and merciful God.  Further, you have the shockingly simple and profound statement at the beginning of the Holy Communion.  "Lord, you have made me worthy to receive you.  Only say the word and I shall be healed."

In the news

"Your Holiness, there's a woman here to see you."
Reuters News is reporting this morning that SNAP and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court.  In this complaint, they charge Pope Benedict XVI and three others personally responsible for tolerating and encouraging sexual abuse.

"Crimes against tens of thousands of victims, most of them children, are being covered up by officials at the highest level of the Vatican. In this case, all roads really do lead to Rome," CCR attorney Pam Spees said.

What is of interest is that the Vatican (like 43 other nations i.e. Israel, Syria, Iraq and North Korea) never signed or ratified the Intenational Criminal Court treaty, so there's question of jurisdiction.  On the other hand, Libya was another non-signatory nation and Col. Qaddafi is presently charged with crimes against humanity.

At best, these proceedings will cause the RC hierarchy to make substantive changes in their stance and force the Vatican to practice what they preach regarding moral rectitude and obligation.  At the very least, it will force the connection between the parish pedophile and their papal protector and that has far-reaching legal implications in the US civil court system.

Friday, September 2

Wimminfolks and Contextualisation

One of my coworkers and I were talking about religion yesterday (shockhorror, I know).  He is what I would refer to as a generic (non-denominational) protestant of a slightly evangelical stripe.  One of his beefs with his generic, protestant of a slightly evangelical stripe church is their acceptance of women in 'positions of teaching authority'.  I asked him to define that more practically which comes out as a woman in the role of pastor (or higher).  Sure, ok, whatever.  I don't agree, but he is as entitled to be wrong as I am, so live and let live.

This morning, he sent me a link to a substantive article which shows the biblical basis for his conclusion.  Or, at least, it purports to.  Almost all of it revolves around  I Tim. 2:11-14.  Since this is all about context, I'm going to zoom out a bit and quote verses 8-15, which bounds the discussion while italicizing verses 11-14.

"In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy. And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty."

The point here is that Paul is writing a private letter to Timothy and telling the lad what he (Paul) feels the Church should look like and what he (again, Paul) permits/allows.
I want men to pray everywhere (not just in temple). 
I want women to wear 'decent' clothes (can you hear your grandmother's voice in that?). 
I don't permit women to teach or have positions of power over men.

Given the time and place in which this is written, as well as the constitution of the church (recall that they are still considered Nazarene jews at this point, not a separate religion) it all makes sense.   But, there is no God in those's all Paul and what Paul wants.   

This ties into the bigger question.  Who makes a priest? a bishop? a deacon?  If we believe in ontological change and the Divine calling those who are ordained, then it's the Divine who makes the priest (etc.) and She can make a boy-priest just as easily as He can make a girl-priest.

There's a lot more here which could be said, but I think I'm probably homilizing to the sopranos.