Monday, October 24, 2011

The Road to Death: Alleluia

Friday night after my party I sent a Tweet that said, "Even at the grave - with all our grief - we make the song of Resurrection, proclaiming death isn't the end: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." This will likely sound familiar to Episcopalians; it's from the burial office...sort of. People who know me well know that the original, "Even at the grave we make our song: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia" is maybe my favorite line in the Prayer Book.

A few weeks ago while listening to Tavener's "Song for Athene" I relayed in a few electronic ways something to the effect of "Even slowly or quietly 'alleluia' is exclaimed." For humanity, death is an important part of life. Without death there cannot be birth. For Christians death isn't the end, though. In dying and rising Jesus trampled down death with death and to those in the tomb bestowed life.

That's not to be Pollyanna about how it affects us, though. We miss people whom we love, and have been important to us. My cousin Caroline has been posting on Facebook today memories of Grandma that gave me flashbacks: frozen swiss cake rolls and empty shampoo bottles in the tub. Grandma has written me more mail than probably anyone else. Cards at birthdays and Christmas, goodie money when leaving Vernon for home. She's been an important part of my life.

One of the things helping me cope is the Episcopal funeral service though. People may think it morbid or macabre that I love funerals, but I think they're a time when we practice and say again what we might believe: death is not the end. It's like celebrating Easter for an individual. We pray for their resurrection to in faith and celebrate that death has lost its sting. I don't think my words are coming through clearly, though.

For me it's not about when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be. That may help some people. Or maybe that's exactly what it is but it's not how I think about it. For me it's about Jesus, not rewards, other than being continually drawn into unity with God. That's what's helping me cope. All Saints Day and All Faithful Departed are my favorite days of the year, and I think it's because in my brain we're continuing Easter for people we've known personally.

We call them to mind and remember that because of God's work in Christ death no longer has a hold on us. In being joined to Christ in our baptisms we are joined to the Resurrection then. We grieve, but our grief doesn't have the final word.

Alleluia.


The Road to Death: Not in Control

My grandma is dying.

I'm doing okay, and appreciate support but at if you're finding out this way I'd appreciate quite support and prayers from a distance. I've reached out and people are checking in on me and helping me process. Last Saturday Grandma had another stroke and things weren't good. She started hospice care

Friday night I got a text from a cousin (and later my mom) that grandma had started declining. The hospice nurse said nothing was imminent, but Grandma became the first on the list for someone to get a twenty-four hour hospice nurse. I mindfully ate my dinner and thought about what going home would mean and if I needed to yet. I checked Delta's bereavement stuff. Then I went to a party.

I decided last week that I'd go home when Mom called or texted that I need to. She's down there and knows the best time for that, so I'm trusting her. Friday night at dinner I got that I'm not in control of this situation. I can't fix it. I can't control what happens, so I have to keep living my life.  I keep praying for grandma (Rose) as she journeys to death and for all of us as we journey with her.

Worrying over if I should go down or when won't fix anything. Worrying about that she's going to die won't make her not die. Death is a part of life, and I've seen death in my family and in professional settings. Knowing that it's coming, for me, is making easier. I don't know when it will happen, but I'm not anxiously waiting for it. I'm not in control and just have to wait for the word.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laziness, Tax Breaks, and Social Assistance

A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture a few minutes ago of children trick-or-treating. The adult whose doorbell they've wrung says to them, "Look how much candy you have! I'm going to take half and give it to the kids too lazy to go trick or treating themselves!" One of the children thinks, "Oh crap, a democrat."

This friend found his amusing, but I don't think it is. I don't like it for a number of reasons, starting with that it drastically simplifies things. The second reason is that it's based on a notion of the privileged that the poor are lazy, and that that's the only reason anyone would need government assistance.  I don't like that it assumes that money "taken" away from people only goes to social assistance when the defense budget is huge!

Finally, it doesn't seem very compassionate. This person is a very nice person with good ties with my family, and she's a Christian. I have a hard time writing off a whole group of people whose lives we don't understand. We spend more on war than helping people have life. Taxes aren't just for social assistance, either; they give us roads and schools and pay educators' salaries. They go to research so that really cool things can happen in science. They're currently going to go to attorneys who will defend discrimination.

This picture also only talks about taxes, but it doesn't talk about how not everyone pays all the tax that they could; some people get help from the government in the form of social assistance, but some get it in refunds and tax credits. Families with children aren't seen as lazy when they check the box and claim their kids as a tax deduction. Choose your poison of tax deduction, the government is helping and they aren't seen as lazy.

I'm tired of lack of compassion posts. I'm also tired of over-simplified posts. I think that most of the people on my Facebook page who complain about the potential of higher taxes wouldn't actually be affected by tax proposals I hear talked about, where those of greater mean contribute more to the welfare of society. That's not a radically new idea, either.

Abundant life isn't just for the 1%. We are the 99%.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve"

This is the text of a hymn we used on September 11 at St. Paul's Chapel. I held on to my bulletin for the text. It was written by Delores Dufner, OSB.

1. The spirit sends us forth to serve; we go in Jesus' name to bring glad tidings to the poor, God's favor to proclaim.
2. We go to comfort those who mourn and set the burdened free: where hope is dim, to share a dream and help the blind to see.
3. We go to be the hands of Christ, to scatter joy like seed and all our days, to cherish life, to do the loving deed.
4. Then let us go to serve in peace, the Gospel to proclaim. God's Spirit has empowered us; we go in Jesus' name. 


I'm not sure what about it I liked so much, but I think the evangelism aspect of it; we go to serve but not just serve but to bring glad tidings and to work. "Sharing a dream"means (to me) talking about what the dream is.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On This Day...

I love the new Facebook feature that gives statuses or comments from the date years ago.  Here's a status update from 2010. 


"I don't want you tinkering with me spiritually if you don't know your stuff! I mean, would you let someone operate on you because they FELT like they could?" -Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson


Another version that gets to the same point (wasn't a status but by the same person): "When it comes to someone operating on my mother, I don't want a surgeon who is sincere but dumb. In a similiar fashion, intellectual laziness among the clergy is a profound disservice to the church."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Matthew 16.13-20 Sermon


Joseph P. Mathews
21 août 2011 11:00 a.m.
Proper 16, Pentecost +10, A
Matthew 16.13-20; Romans 12.1-8

“Jesus said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ ”

Have you ever been lost? Or maybe better, have you known exactly where you were but not where the thing you’re looking for – like a cheap, cold, bottle of Orangina – is? Wandering around the City or wandering around anywhere looking for a place, a place that can be your oasis?

Where our Gospel text takes place – Caesarea Phillipi - is located at the bottom of Mt. Hermon, a place that would’ve been known at least in the cultural memory of the crowds following Jesus. You see, at the bottom of Mt. Hermon was a cave from which waters gushed, starting a tributary to the Jordan River, in which Jesus was baptized. In a dry, desert land with scarce access to water, the people would’ve been very familiar with this source-and-sustainer of life. Caesarea Phillipi was a physical oasis for people. But as the crowds follow Jesus they are looking and searching nonetheless. Can you hear their longing in who they say Jesus is?

Some say John the Baptist, the one who called the people to repentance, wore camel’s hair, and ate locusts. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel Matthew has said that John the Baptizer is the forerunner about whom Isaiah prophesied. The crowds following Jesus around would likely remember his calling their religious leaders, the Pharisees, a brood of vipers. He is dead now, but some people say that maybe he is back as Jesus.

But others say Elijah: the prophet of old who stood up for worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob over the Canaanite god Baal, whose worship came into Israel during an attempt to achieve domestic security. Elijah raised the dead. He called down fire from heaven that destroyed water-soaked altars to Baal. Elijah didn’t die; after crossing the River Jordan with his protégée, he is caught up in a chariot of fire. The prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would return before the Messiah’s approach. Some people say that Jesus is Elijah having returned.

Yet still others say that he is Jeremiah, the prophet who forewarned the people of their impending Babylonian captivity as punishment for generations of idolatry. And yet others say that maybe Jesus is just one of the prophets who’s decided to come back for a bit. Standing there among the living waters at Caesarea Phillipi, an oasis in a dry and barren region, among a group of people longing for new life and freedom from centuries of political and religious oppression, the crowds following Jesus are clearly looking for good news, for hope, for a word from God.

Jesus asks his closest friends who they say he is. Peter, never scared to speak his mind, says, “You are the Messiah! The son of the living God!” and certainly implying, “You have come to change the world and make things better for us!” Also suggesting, “You are what we and the crowds are searching for in our barrenness.” Peter was the first of many to stand at living water and profess his faith that Jesus is the son of the Living God. This pattern of standing at an oasis and making a profession based on hope for renewal has continued through centuries as new believers come to the baptismal font and make their own declarations.

Baptismal candidates stand near the water of life and are asked, “Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your savior?” Later in the service they’re invited to answer Jesus’s question of “Who do you say that I am?” when asked “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?” Day by day we answer Jesus’ question with our thoughts, words, and actions. Who do we say Jesus is when we anonymously post a hateful YouTube comment, offer to take a picture for tourists, or partition what we do on Sunday mornings from the rest of how we live our lives? If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Son of the Living God who has saved the world, how do we proclaim that with our words and examples?

When Peter said that Jesus was the Messiah, he risked his life. Remember, one of the charges the Pharisees bring against Jesus is that he and his followers claim that he is the Son of God – a blasphemous statement in their ears. But in Jesus he had seen a vision of God with us showing us a better way to live. At our baptisms we’ve already risked and given our lives. The baptismal liturgy is very clear: we are baptized into Christ’s death. We give up that which was before, and we die to sin and our old lives. Baptism isn’t just death, though: we come through it. We’re joined to Christ not just in death, but also resurrection. We die to our old lives but are raised to new life in Christ. In this new life we’re strengthened to keep the promises that we’ve made. We’re born from the womb of the font and made one with Christ and the Church.

At our baptisms we make a profession of faith like Peter’s. Daily we’re given opportunities to, as Paul writes in our Romans reading today, not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Every time someone is baptized, the Church calls itself to a corporate renewing of the promises made at our baptisms.

In a few moments we’ll all be given the opportunity together to renew our professions of faith. At baptismal services we use the Apostle’s Creed, not the Nicene Creed. We speak in the first person and individually proclaim our belief in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. Then we’ll renew other promises we’ve made: not just striving for justice and peace and respecting the dignity of every human being, but repenting when we fall into sin and proclaiming by word and example by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.  After the baptism the newly baptized are welcomed and given a charge to profess the faith of Christ crucified and proclaim his resurrection. Those who have been charged in turn charge others and promise to help the newly baptized live their promises. They’ve been made one in Christ, which Paul reminds us in Romans today, as well. But in our oneness we are still individuals with different tasks.

Each time someone new comes to the Living Water, we are all invited to remember when we went wading ourselves, to remember the promises that we made, and the new life we’ve been given. We were charged to proclaim the New Life of Christ, which we do bring good news to the downtrodden and oppressed and work for peace in places of violence. We come together regularly for nourishment and help in those endeavors. We don’t always do it well, so we confess that and are forgiven. Having been baptized into Christ’s death, resurrection, and body the Church we share a meal together and strengthen our relationship with him and with one another.

At the living waters of the font, like the gushing waters at Caesarea Phillipi Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said that he was the Christ, the Chosen One. Who do you say that he is? Remember your baptisms, and be thankful. Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Listening

I just tried to go for a run. I say "tried" because I made it 2:40. A few weeks ago I was thinking about buying something at the big sales here. They only happen twice a year from what I've gathered, so I really wanted to get something. That meant I tried on a pair of skinny jeans.

My legs laughed at me.

They did the same this morning. I went for a really good run yesterday. I was faster than usual, and it was hotter and more humid. I usually rest on Wednesdays. I didn't run on Monday this week so I ran yesterday. I thought this morning that I'd get a third training day in. I may still this evening, but my legs laughed at me after 2:40 this morning. They need a rest. I will honor that. Importantly to that, I am okay with that. Rather than be upset about not going for the run today, I'm celebrating that what I did yesterday was hard work and I need to recuperate.

I don't know if I'll get a third training run in this week. I'm traveling tomorrow and like to rest on Fridays before my long runs on Saturday. I'm more excited that this weekend I'm running 13.1 miles. I'm going to run the distance of the race I'm training for. From this Saturday on I'll know I can do it and all my other long runs will work to make me better at it.

I might not get three short runs in this week. (My iPhone has gotten iffy about putting sound through ear buds, which also probably played a role in my listening to my legs this morning. I listened to them instead of Gaga.) But I'm still going for a long run on Saturday. I might not get another week of farthest distance in a week on RunKeeper, but I'll still get farthest distance. If I can do it and not be miserably in pain while it's happening I'm more likely to do it.

Yesterday wasn't a miserable run. Today probably wouldn't have been miserable, but it wouldn't have been enjoyable either. I listened to my legs. Now I'm going to tidy up my apartment and get ready for today's adventure. We'll see how my legs feel this evening.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bishops Sue Alabama

Alabama has a crazy new immigration law that goes into effect 1 September. It's crazy and many bishops (though not all...yet?) in the state are going to court over it.

From Episcopal News Service.
'If enforced, Alabama's Anti-Immigration Law will make it a crime to follow God's command to be Good Samaritans,' the lawsuit states, according to the Birmingham News. 
The law, if enforced, will place Alabama church members in the 'untenable position of verifying individuals' immigration documentation' before being able to provide things such as food, clothing, shelter and transportation to those in need, the newspaper reported.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Danger of the New, Far, Far, Far "Religious" Right

Al Jazeera English has a somewhat lengthy opinion piece with a somewhat sensationalist title (America's own Taliban), but it's really good. It examines the involvement of major political figures right now and their involvement in extreme dominionist groups. Other than just talking about people and their involvement it explains what they're doing and who they are. It's far more academic than opinion pieces in the States I'm used to reading, and it sure as hell beats the "journalism" of FauxNews. The piece really asks for the mainstream media to talk more about this - and not just making fun of some of the looniness (Oprah being a harbinger of the antichrist).

Highlight quotations (from very early in the piece):
The ultimate goal is to replace secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as "dominionism". The supposed purpose is to "purify" the world for Christ's return - again, strikingly similar to what the Taliban believe, but also significantly at odds with more common, long-standing Christian beliefs about the "end times", as well as the nature and purpose of prayer, and the roles of human and divine power...

Debt Ceiling Quotation

Joe Klein:
If she were less scrupulous, Pelosi could have used a debt ceiling vote to force President Bush to defund the war in Iraq.

Forget Opinion and Remember Facts

Michael Grunwald has this:

If the debt-limit debate had anything to do with reality, every story about it would include a few basic facts. Starting with: President Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion budget deficit. And: Republican leaders supported the tax cuts and wars that (along with the recession, another pre-Obama phenomenon) created that deficit. Also: Republicans engineered this crisis by attaching unprecedented ideological demands to a routine measure allowing the U.S. to pay its bills.Finally, Obama and the Democrats keep meeting those demands—for spending cuts, then for more spending cuts, and even for nothing but spending cuts—but Republicans keep holding out for more.

Joe Walsh's Fiscal Responsibility

My vision of fiscal responsibility (that I try to live personally) involve paying what I owe and living within my means (so really trying to not owe anything, student loans for seminary aside). I pay fines when I get speeding tickets. I pay off my credit card each month. I think these are best practices, but I don't really talk about them. I certainly don't lecture people about what I think are reckless purchases or poor priorities. Sometimes I'm too concerned with not running out of money that I don't let myself live. But other times the sacrifice of not spending pays off in big ways. That's what I think about fiscal responsibility on the personal level.

So I was surprised when I saw this on ThinkProgress:

Michele Won't Answer the Questions...

After completely ignoring news stations that want to do things like report news, Michele Bachman gives an "explanation." Queerty offers this analysis:

Summer Weather Report

The summer weather report is available from Linda Sundry here.

More on Medicine: Snake Oil

Click to enlarge. via Joe.My.God

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christian Nation

Done With Living Like a Christian?

Over on The Pangea Blog Kurt Willems has the following as a conclusion to a nice post on no longer living like a Christian.
So, yes, I’m done with living like a Christian. I’m trading that in for living in a deeper relationship with Christ. I want to know Jesus. I want to hear Jesus. I want to be empowered by Jesus. Not simply in theory as I do the good things that he calls us to do, but as the natural outflow of intimacy with God. The former way “gets the job done.” The latter way changes the world.

Bible Quotes for Seminarians Volume 1

So, my statcounter stuff tells me that I'm the top hit for "Bible quotes for seminarians" and I checked it out. I am. But it's a link to Insane (Inspired?) Bible Verses. I've decided (since more than one person has come to my site by Googling that) to actually compile a few of my favorite Bible verses for seminarians. Here are five, and let's see what others suggest for adding. It's a big collection of books, so there may be lots of volumes!

"You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger..." - James 1.19, NRSV

"And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert." - 1 Peter 5.5b-8a, NRSV

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4.12, NIV (which I prefer to the NRSV for this verse)

"As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3.12-17, NRSV

"Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" - Matthew 16.24-26

100 Things [My] Kids [and I] May Never Know About

Nathan Berry from Wired.com has compiled a list of 100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About. But as I read through the list I'm more certain that my kids definitely won't. I'm not sure to what age group this is written. I definitely dialed up AOL using a modem but have no idea how a slide rule works. I've never seen a betamax tape.

What are things on there that you have fond memories of? What about things you have no idea what they are?

‪Morning Humor



I wonder if I'd had this technique I wouldn't have kicked Jasper in the shins with my steel-toed boots, body slammed Mathew that one time, or earned the nick name (inspired by Toy Story) Mr. Angry Eyes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to be a Writer, ctd.

[I'm getting caught up on things, but I'm trying to not do more than ten entries a day. This is an exception.]

I don't really think of myself as a "writer", although that's an unfair self-assessment. When asked if I'm a musician (and this has happened a few times this summer, usually when I'm with the director of music or members of the choir) I tend to answer that I'm not professionally but think we all are if we're empowered to be. I think that everyone is a writer if they're empowered to be. Like all of us being musicians, that doesn't mean we'll all be professionals or that it'll all be good. But I don't think of myself as a writer the way I think of two friends from high school or my mom as writers.

m. molly backes: How to Be a Writer

m. molly backes, about whom I'd never heard before I read this, has wonderful things for parents whose children want to be writers. I think it's good for enabling children to write whether they want to or not. She offers the following advice for parents (particularly a parent who had a daughter and asked lots of questions about how to help the daughter be a writer):

Let her be bored.
Let her be lonely.
Let her have secrets.
Let her get a job.

The Political Lessons Of ‘Harry Potter’

Over on ThinkProgress Alyssa Rosenberg offers 8 Political Lessons from Harry Potter in some detail.

1. Torture is wrong.
2. Universal healthcare is pretty much a necessity.

Stay Away from Lions

Especially after a full moon. Weird Wide Web has this gem:

A new study that looked at lion predatory behavior over the lunar cycle found that lions were more likely to attack and eat humans successfully in the ten days after a full moon, in the evening, when it's darkest and when humans are most likely to be out and about, and when lions are at their hungriest, according to Science.
Read it all: How to avoid becoming a lion's evening meal

‪Dance! Dance! Dance!



I'm not sure why Jesus is walking around in a red stole at the beginning, but this music is stunning. It makes me think about my CH1 final junior year and the Lambda service this summer.

Barack Obama: The Democrats’ Richard Nixon?

Bruce Bartlett has a great presidential history spanning over sixty years as he asks about Obama's actual fiscal conservatism. Here's just some of what he offers.
Liberals hoped that Obama would overturn conservative policies and launch a new era of government activism. Although Republicans routinely accuse him of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.

The Flea Market

Saturday, like Sunday, was a wonderful day. I got up and ran my first double-digit distance. My time was a little slower than planned, but hey. I also went a tenth of a mile less than I'd planned because of a wrong turn. That works since last week a few wrong turns gave me an extra mile and a half...this week was supposed to be 11. Anyway, I got back from it and decompressed a little. Zach and I then went to the market.

Apparently Zach doesn't go to the market frequently enough. I love going to the market and getting my groceries for Saturday-Tuesday. There's another on Wednesday, so I get what I can when I need it. I try not to stock up on too much. So we got the stuff I needed and then went back to the cathedral. We set a time to meet up to go on an adventure to the Marché aux Puces: the flea market.

‪Sen. Franken Keeps Witness Honest

I posted this video last week on Facebook not long after the full hearing. It's pretty awesome. I giggle with the gallery every time Sen. Franken says, "It doesn't..." and then proceeds to ask the witness why the committee should believe his oral testimony when his written isn't factual.

Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph - Ezra Klein - The Washington Post

Ezra Klein analyzes
What’s also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama’s major expenses were temporary — the stimulus is over now — while Bush’s were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn’t just lower revenue for 10 years. It’s clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost.

Breivik: A Living Definition Of Christianism

Andrew Sullivan writes about the term "Christianist," one that I've taken to using.
One of the core messages of Christianity is a rejection of worldly power. The core message of Christianism is, in stark contrast, the desperate need to control all the levers of political power to control or guide the lives of others. And so the notion that Breivik is a 'Christian fundamentalist' seems unfair to those genuine Christian fundamentalists who seek no power over others (except proselytizing), but merely seek to live their own lives in accord with a literal belief in the words of the Bible. [snip]

‪The MP3 Experiment Makes me #furiouslyhappy



I wish I could've participated again this year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Cyclists!"

The detour yesterday on the way to Notre Dame was just a little thing called the Tour de France. I mean, it's a bike race or something? It ends in Paris and yesterday was the last phase. The very end is actually very close to the American Cathedral, but no one I'm friends with felt like camping out in time to get a spot on the Champs-Elysées. Neither Mark nor I particularly follows cycling, so we weren't that invested in it.

As we walked along the river we got to Pont Royal and saw the closing caravan of the tour. These were cars with bicycles on top. I said, "Cyclists!" and up we went from along the river to the road. We missed that bit of the caravan, but police officers were adjusting the barricades to change the course into a turn. When they got the road bit changed the moved the pedestrian blocks and we surged forward.

We were the third or fourth people back from the barricade and watched them make a lap. I got a lot of great pictures of the barricades but not of cyclists, so I asked Mark if we could stay another. He said that was fine. We did. In the interim I remembered that my camera has a setting for when you're holding it above your head so that you can still see what you're taking pictures of. I switched that on and we waited. And around they came again!

This time I got pictures. And after that we were ready to go. During the first round through there were children on their dad's shoulders. It was adorable. He had one on each side. It was a nice Australian family. As the pack came through he shouted the "Aussie"s and I (and a few others) shouted the "Oye"s which was a lot of fun. I haven't done that since my last IC. Later in the day we saw more Australians, but they were wearing flags and inflatable kangaroos.

So this summer, in twenty minutes' time, I saw one of the world's major sporting events. I didn't spend hours staking out a spot, but rather stumbled upon it while headed somewhere else at a leisurely pace. :)

Matthew 13.1-9,18-23 Sermon (Audio)

MP3 file available for download here. Be sure to listen to the organ improv at the beginning. It's got some seeds and soil in it.

‘Republicanity’—The GOP Transformation is Nearly Complete

Gary Laderman asks
What is the operative creed for Republicanity?

Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?

Mark Juergensmeyer asks:
Is this a religious vision, and am I right in calling Breivik a Christian terrorist? It is true that Breivik—and McVeigh, for that matter—were much more concerned about politics, race and history than about scripture and religious belief, with Breivik even going so far as to write that “It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)).”

Raise Your Glass‬‏ Furiously Happy Cover

‪Ignite Evo - Jenny Lawson‬‏ - YouTube



I saw this video last week and have watched it three or four times. It's pretty amazing and I'm trying to be furiously happy and be ridiculous when I feel like it. I also look for things to make me furiously happy. For example when I finish the scarf I'm working on I'm going to knit a crazy long Doctor Who scarf. I might wear it as part of a costume. Or just wear it when it's cold. We'll see, I think! Note: video has strong language (but is amazing).

My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing
This us-versus-them thinking is odd, given that Jesus was constantly breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, sinners and saints...Funny thing is, Jesus never said, “Go into the world and convert people to Christianity.” What he said was, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Encouraging anyone and everyone to become an apprentice of Jesus, without manipulation, is a more open, dynamic and relational way of helping people who want to become more like Jesus — regardless of their religious identity.

Hyperbole and a Half

So no one introduced me to this page until last night. This was an entry they said was good, and I loved it. Favorite quotation is, "If I come across a person who seems to completely ignore the existence of apostrophes and capital letters and types things like "im an eagle and im typing with my talons, so dont make fun of me cuz this is hard," I like to imagine that they actually are an eagle typing with their talons." I may or may not write like that in Instant Messages.

Dissent Magazine It's Not Just a Scandal, It's a Syndrome

Dissent Magazine - Arguing The World - It's Not Just a Scandal, It's a Syndrome
No large news organization in the world, in fact—at least none that’s as large as or larger than those influenced by Vladimir Putin in Russia or Silvio Berlusconi in Italy or the Communist Party in China—tries as brazenly as Murdoch’s globe-straddling News Corporation to generate and even fabricate news or to subvert good reporting of news so cynically and powerfully—and hurtfully, to both its subjects and its audiences.

Vespers at Notre Dame

I've had some amazing adventures the last few weeks. I'm going to try to catalogue about them over the next few days just so that I get them written down here. There are plenty of photos of things as they've been happening, too. I know that there are people who want to read what's going on. I'm writing it all in my journal, but that's for my reading.

Yesterday evening my friend Mark and I went to Vespers at Notre Dame. Mark has been at Taizé the last three weeks. I know him through Sacred Harp stuff. He got in yesterday after church, and we went to lunch. Café du Marché might need its own series of entries. After lunch we came back to my apartment and planned our afternoon. One of the things on his list was going to Notre Dame, so we looked at their schedule.

We realized that they had a Vespers service we could easily make it to walking along the Seine at a leisurely pace. We walked, had an interruption (entry later), and went to Notre Dame. The line was absurdly long to get in to visit, but I told a guard that we were there for the service and he told us to cut the line. And wow. It was wonderful. Easily one of the most prayerful evening prayer services I've ever been to, but I'm sure that is partially to do with my not having to lead it. But more on that in a few.

I've never been to Popish evening prayer before, so the order was different, but not too different. There was a lot of singing: something like the Phos Hilaron, an invitatory, a hymn, psalms, a canticle, and the Magnificat. I think there was a reading from 1 Corinthians, but I'm not really sure. There was some reflection time between all the sung parts with an organ improv. I really appreciated that there weren't huge chunks of Bible reading. I also really appreciated how accessible I found it.

I'm not good at singing in French. Letters that don't make sounds and accents on weird syllables don't fit with my understanding of the musical notation, but I was able to really sing along. The psalter was simple chant settings, almost plainsong-esque. I loved how unafraid of incense they were; there was a lot of it in a giant pot at the beginning of the service. During the Mag the officiating priest smoked the place up as he censed the altar. The canticle (from Revelation 19) was amazing. The alleluias were so joyful! The cantors and organ helped with that feel, but those singing the song of the resurrection really seemed happy about resurrection!

My favorite part was the Magnificat, though. It alternated between cantors and people. I really liked the man in his late fifties or early sixties on the row in front of me who had folded his bulletin by this point and was singing both parts. It was in Latin, but he just sang along. It made me think about classmates who can do that with our Evensongs. I get too frustrated with Evensong at general and how much more work than prayer it is for me, so I don't really know most settings.

Vespers was great. I'll probably go back with more friends. I might try to get to something on a Sunday evening at Sacre Coeur. Maybe benediction. More adventures later today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Matthew 13.1-9,18-23 Sermon (Text)

Joseph P. Mathews
10 juillet 2011
Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23
Proper 11, Pentecost +5, A

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In Alabama, where I’m from, the corn is usually towering by this time of year. Fresh produce is everywhere here in this City of Light.

Growing up, my family – often my brothers and I at my mother’s direction - kept a garden. I can assure you that we never planted seeds the way the sower in today’s parable does, casting them about willy nilly. No, we had to do very intentional planning if we wanted things to grow.

Each year, we had to prepare our garden space before planting. The first step annually was looking for rocks. In the course of a year they always managed to move into the same area of land that we’d cleared the year before. We’d look for rocks, big ones the size of a fist. Next, after they were gone we had to turn the soil over. Some years we did this with spades over the course of a week or more, other years my step-father rented a tiller and it was done in less than an hour. But we still weren’t ready to plant, necessarily.

Different crops required further preparation still. Tomatoes had to go in cages so the vines could climb. Corn went in rows marked with string and pipe. Mounds had to be made for watermelons. Finally, we planted and let things grow. We did some weeding to keep things alive, but Mom did most of that.
Through the course of the summer we ate what was ready as it became ready: boiled squash with too much pepper, grilled corn on the cobb, and peas fresh from the vine.

How strongly our system of planting and harvesting differs from the sower in today’s gospel text! This person going out to sow is careless, reckless, casting seeds with abandon.

He throws seeds into the rocks, he throws them in the road, he throws them in the weeds, and some of them wind up in soil where they’ll grow. At the close of the parable Jesus tells those with ears to hear to listen. What are we supposed to learn?

In all the work that went into making our garden, we were pretty careful about what we did. We wanted what we planted to produce a harvest. The sower in the parable seems more concerned with sowing than reaping. In this parable Jesus is telling people who follow him in every generation that God the sower scatters Good News to all places with abundance and extravagance and without discrimination.

There are different reactions to God’s reaching out, certainly, but that’s not what Jesus wants us to listen for in this text. Jesus isn’t giving us a standard by which to judge ourselves and try to be good soil as hard as we can.

Rather than setting up a system of what is good and what is bad, he offers us a vision of what-might-be, a larger vision of God’s extravagance. The good soil – people who not only hear but stay in relationship with God – have an abundance of life. The fruit is one hundred fold – more bountiful than can actually be measured. Jesus offers life beyond measure for those in relationship with him. An easy temptation is to make the story about our working to be good soil rather than about God and God’s continual calling us and loving us.

To avoid that temptation, we should remember that Jesus had to explain the parable to the disciples because they didn’t get it. They want to understand what Jesus is talking about when he says “the kingdom of God has come near”, but they don’t.

Try as they might they don’t.

Jesus’ words are falling on minds packed down, like the soil in the road, from years of hurt and disappointed expectation. They have expectations about what God does and doesn’t do, how the world should run. What Jesus keeps telling them – love their enemies, pray for their persecutors, give to anyone who asks, not to store treasures on earth – flies in the face of their desires.

Jesus doesn’t give up on them, though. Jesus the Word continues to be among them - and us - recklessly, loving and teaching without giving up. Over and over again he says, “You who have ears, listen!” Unlike the seeds on the road, disciples aren't snatched up by the enemy; they follow Jesus until the end. And then they keep following him, talking about him, and making new disciples as he continues to live with them after the resurrection. They stick to it, even when it doesn’t make sense to them. They hope that one day they will understand Jesus’ messages. Jesus doesn’t abandon his disciples in any age, and they – we - are given lives of abundance.

Last week we heard Jesus invite us to take up his yoke, a yoke of easiness, of being bound to him in discipleship, not oppressively burdened down to do hard labor. This week Jesus invites us to lives of abundance: life in an abundant God who knows no scarcity of love, which he showed us when he cast Jesus the Word to live and dwell among us.

He did this not after getting rid of the rocks, loosening the soil, or getting rid of the weeds. God didn’t scatter the Word, his love in human form, after elaborate preparation like my family’s garden in Alabama. No, God loves us, meet us where we are, and doesn’t give up on us. Amen.

Driscoll’s Bullying

Driscoll’s Bullying:
But this made me sick all over, simultaneously nauseous and desperate to apologize to everyone who will inevitably hear about it. I will assume I don’t need to explain why I had that reaction to a “star” Christian pastor, who enjoys the respect and friendship of numerous influential evangelical leaders, publicly inviting his followers to shame and bully people about their physical appearance or manner. I suppose I don’t need to remind anyone that kids try to kill themselves over this type of treatment. (emphasis added)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Brain on Trial

The Brain on Trial - Magazine - The Atlantic:
The lesson from all these stories is the same: human behavior cannot be separated from human biology. If we like to believe that people make free choices about their behavior (as in, “I don’t gamble, because I’m strong-willed”), cases like Alex the pedophile, the frontotemporal shoplifters, and the gambling Parkinson’s patients may encourage us to examine our views more carefully. Perhaps not everyone is equally “free” to make socially appropriate choices.

Very cool article.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Presbyterian Church Will Start Ordaining Gay Clergy

Presbyterian Church Will Start Ordaining Gay Clergy:
The new rules, which also apply to elders and deacons, do not require churches to ordain gay candidates, but they remove barriers to their ordination that were written into the church's constitution. The old text of the church’s Book of Order banned non-celibate clergy who did not live 'within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.' That prohibition was added in 1997.

The new Book of Order does not mention gay clergy, but it removes a requirement of chastity for non-married clergy. It places more emphasis on character traits such as a “candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability” and presbyteries' powers in picking ministers.

Dear Mr. Driscoll (a guest post)

Dear Mr. Driscoll (a guest post) | Jesus Needs New PR:
Now, Mark, I’m going to be upfront about this: I don’t like a lot of what you stand for. I think you have taken culturally defined roles, put the force of God behind them, and have hurt a lot of people in the process. But I know that I have a duty to put things in context – and I really, really try. But honestly, Mark, buddy, pal…you make it really, really hard.

Gay marriage, bishops and the crisis of leadership | National Catholic Reporter

Gay marriage, bishops and the crisis of leadership
That attitude does not spring so much from a stance of defiance, as some bishops would assert, but more from the experience of gays and lesbians themselves and their parents and siblings, extended family and friends who increasingly understand gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons as far more than the sum of their sexual orientation while also understanding that sexuality is at the core of a person’s identity.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Greg Carey: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Marriage?

Greg Carey: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Marriage?:
The point is, Christian weddings rarely feature passages that directly relate to marriage. Only one passage, Genesis 2:24, seems especially relevant, while other passages require us to bend their content to our desire to hear a good word about marriage.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Facebook Friends and the Cloud of Witnesses

Rev. Amy Ziettlow: Facebook Friends and the Cloud of Witnesses:
As I opened each letter, each one a relic of friendships past, I relished the handwriting, the goofy drawings, and the snapshot of adolescent drama captured in each missive. I thought of each friend, patiently collecting his or her thoughts, finding paper and pen and envelope and stamp, and intentionally reaching out to me in conversation. Much of what was contained in those letters could easily be contained in email nowadays, but I feel no affection for email. I do for these letters.

This is why I like sending and receiving real mail: it has a touch and a feel. Sometimes it has a smell: cologne sprayed in it, aged paper, new ink, plasticky. It has color that doesn't hurt my eyes or make me questions if it's black or navy.

A grand old cult - The Washington Post

A grand old cult - The Washington Post:
But the net effect is to establish an intellectual barrier for admittance to the presidential race: Independent thinkers, stop right here! If you believe in global warming, revenue enhancement, stimulus programs, the occasional need for abortion or even the fabulist theories of the late Charles Darwin, then either stay home — or lie.

When Did We Become Han China? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

When Did We Become Han China? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Maybe Archbishop Dolan can incorporate this info into his next LOUD RANT: about economic justice and care for the least of these. He likes comparing the US to Far Eastern countries, and all.

A BLOG POST: The aftermath of ‘not guilty’ (questions I’ve been thinking about)

A BLOG POST: The aftermath of ‘not guilty’ (questions I’ve been thinking about) | Jesus Needs New PR:
What if “justice” wasn’t simply a spectacle that we watched unfold on news programs and court room TV, but rather, was something that required us to be involved? Would we be as passionate? Would we cry? Would we get angry? What if the kid wasn’t cute and lived in Bangladesh?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Unfinished Business - The Defense of Marriage Act

Unfinished Business - The Defense of Marriage Act - NYTimes.com:
Any Congress with a real respect for personal freedom would repeal it. That, of course, does not describe the current Congress, where many members talk a great deal about freedom but apply it mainly to businesses and gun owners.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bishops Lose a Big One

The Bishops Lose a Big One - Spiritual Politics:
Even as [Cardinal O'Malley of Boston] has defended the church's position on marriage, he has made it clear that he wants 'all baptized Catholics to come to Mass and be part of our community,' and has established a policy that his parochial schools must not 'discriminate or exclude any categories of students.' He also does not refer to same-sex marriage as same-sex 'marriage.' The Catholic Church declines to recognize civil divorce. Should it therefore refer to your previously married spouse as your 'wife' or 'husband'?
I have a friend who really likes Abp. Dolan, but lately he's pretty much been an asshat, comparing the US to N. Korea for elected legislators legislating and suggesting that people will want to start marrying their siblings or animals.

And for those people who insist that "one man and one woman" is how marriage has always been in the course of human history, let's forget that in some religions currently men can have up to five wives (ergo it's not universal anyway), and look at Biblical marriage examples courtesy of Betty Bowers.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Perfectionism

I was at church when this sermon was given, I listened to it later that day. I'm watching it for what is the second time in 40 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More on the Right to be Heard

I actually wrote a five part series on this. Be in touch for more information.

JosephPMathews@gmail.com or @JosephPMathews

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality? – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

"Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake....So let’s stop the charade and be honest. Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own."

Right to be Heard

I'm going through my tweets and found a link to this site: Evangelism Is Not Just Relationship | ChurchPlanting.com. When I got to the following I said "bullshit" outloud:
Someone recently told me “We must earn the right to be heard.” As I pondered this statement, something didn’t sit right with me. As much as I tried to understand what he really meant I couldn’t help but think that according to the Scripture, Jesus earned that right for me as well. We preach in the authority and righteousness He earned through His life and death.
I don't even know what that means. The rest of the article sounds a lot like some version of knocking on doors that starts with an inherit right to do and say whatever you want because you are right. Who recognizes this authority? If you're talking to someone and they don't care about Jesus, they aren't going to hear you. That's not the model of how numbers grew in the Bible, either. There are instances sited of being up front, but there are other, non-scriptural sources about the growth of the church. "These Christians, see how they love each other." Today's New Testament lesson is the appointing deacons to care for the needs of the marginalized in the community.

The thing of it is, I've found, people don't care if you're "right" if you don't care about them. And from the article, what does "introducing the gospel" mean? I think there's a lot more to Good News than asking people if they "know Jesus" which is how I interpret the author talking about "sharing the Gospel." Sharing the Gospel is a lot more about caring for and loving people than trying to bring about some kind of conversion experience. Being clear (particularly when asked) that you are doing whatever because you've found Good News in the Gospel story and are led to help others is important. But requiring people to hear your Jesus talk before you help them isn't loving.

I think that being truly in relationship also means that you're honest about who and what you are, though hopefully not with ulterior motives. Part of building relationships truly is sharing your life. I spend a few hours each week in a bar in New York and the regulars there know that I'm training to be a priest. And I've invited some to be church with me. If I started every (or any) conversation with a new person with an invitation to Church or something about Jesus I wouldn't have any friends there.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A letter to Christianity (from Creativity)

A letter to Christianity (from Creativity) | Jesus Needs New PR: "You basically walked out on me during the late 19th century. Do you remember why?! Because I wouldn’t help you sell your “rapture” idea. I don’t create sensationalized fear, Christianity-well, I don’t unless it’s a horror flick or science fiction or something produced by JJ Abrams. Besides, we’d already spent centuries–long, dark, and ugly ones–promoting your whole “God/fear” thing. I’m over it, and so is everybody else."

Read it all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Is Being Gay Like Gluing Wings on a Pig?

How Is Being Gay Like Gluing Wings on a Pig? | JohnShore.com:

"When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them — what you really mean — is for them to be celibate.

What you are truly and actually saying is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life devoid of the kind of enduring, romantic, partner-to-parnter love that all people, Christians included, understand as just about the best part of being alive."

Dan Savage at Rhodes good christian churches

"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When a Nobel Prize Isn’t Enough

Peter A. Diamond has written a piece about his nomination to the Fed. Way to keep it classy, Alabama:
Last October, I won the Nobel Prize in economics for my work on unemployment and the labor market. But I am unqualified to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve — at least according to the Republican senators who have blocked my nomination. How can this be?...The leading opponent to my appointment, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, has questioned the relevance of my expertise.
Be sure to read it all.

There Are No Gay Powers!

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Can You Really Pray the Gay Out of Kids?

Over at The Stir Janelle Harris writes
That’s like praying for me to turn into a man. Or white. Or completely alter some other component of myself that makes me inherently me.
Be sure to read it all. It's short and to the point.

Truth, Fear, and Evangelism

Matthew Paul Turner has written a two-part blog entry on Evangelism and truth setting people free. Here's my favorite line
Because truth can’t set you free if you’re afraid.
Be sure to read it all

Social media rebooting religion

In a San Francisco Chronicle article about religion and social media Elizabeth Drescher writes
More than new gimmicks for those who already love religion, these new digitally influenced practices have the potential to move those who love social media as well as those who dig a good brew or a healthy hike to re-engage with traditions that have for too long excluded them by functioning only outside of their everyday experience. They hold out the possibility to reboot faith communities that have long been flashing 'fail' to believers and seekers alike.
Be sure to read it all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heightening The Republican Contradictions, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan:
And so the notion of America as a unique nation in the eyes of God is a Christian heresy. And the rest of the current Republican agenda is also, extremely hard to square with Christian orthodoxy.

The Disney Cell Block Tango

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This Week

The Cathedral Clergy are away this week at clericus, so I'm around. I'm having a good time and getting a lot done. Yesterday was a lot of emails. Today was a few more. I went to the grocery store yesterday and got some things. Last night I cooked. Haha. I'm clearly exhausted. Why am I so exhausted, though?

Because Ashley is an elder! After I went to the grocery store yesterday I got back and cooked from my cook book. New recipe that was good but probably won't be repeated this trip because I need a bigger frying pan. I watched an episode of Doctor Who and went to bed early. I had to get up this morning to watch a live-stream from Alabama of one of my dearest friends' ordination to the presbyterate. At long last, it's finally happened.

In watching it I noticed my growth as a liturgist (I think). I didn't have a copy of the bulletin, but I did have an electronic copy of the official version. There were deviations that made me wonder where stuff was coming from. There were things that weren't done. But last night I wasn't watching for things to be done "right." I was disappointed some things weren't done but that had to do with a richness of symbols or a greater presence of deacons (I <3 Deacons).  It seemed intentional and not rushed or haphazard. There were just other things I wish had been present. And I would've liked a stronger sermon.

I miss this. I miss not just writing what I've done but reflecting on it, too. I mean, I'm doing that in my journal, so I'm doing that. But that isn't open to feedback (not that I get much on here ;)). I've done laundry today. I think I'm going back to the grocery store. I'm cooking an artichoke tonight, or doing my best! We'll see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, oh well, I'll have tried something new! I'll be leaving the office soon. I think I need a nap. Yesterday going for a walk to the grocery store did not wake me up, so I won't rely on that. And I'll get to be earlier, too.

Adorable Child Sings Teenage Dream

"

Les Weekends

Wow, the last two weekends have been crazy busy. Y'all are going to get some real highlights for this. Two weekends' worth will get y'all caught up, I think. Last weekend all kind of runs together starting on Thursday night. There was a three hour meeting in French that I went to to experience capital campaign steering group meeting. Then I went out and stayed out until 2:00. I have no idea what that Friday had in store. Last Saturday there was a wedding and then a great cocktail party. I had a great time at both. See, highlights. The food was amazing. The caterer was outstanding. People asked me good questions about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it during the summer. I had to think and be ready to speak on my feet. Good experience.

Sunday was a whirlwind of a day. I went to all three services. It was just exhausting. The having to go back in the evening is what did it for me. Same for this week, although it was a little better. I don't have to go but it's the service that most fits with me. It's contemporary. I also went to lunch with the Dean and his wife. Again, great food. I'm doing a lot of cooking for myself, but I'm trying to get some good out French food periodically. And as I'm finding places that are cheaper that will be happening more and more.

This Saturday was such a full day. There was a two hour strategic planning meeting that I sat in on and spoke up in a little about social networking and social media. Then we had an hour break before the ordination walk through at 1:00. Then we made a deacon at 2:00! I was the emcee and it went fine. I'd never done that before, and as best I could tell I did a good job. It was pretty straight forward. I got to be a non-anxious presence for people around. There was a great reception after the ordination.

Then Young Zachary and I had an adventure. The copier was broken, so we had to figure out bulletins for the 11:00 Sunday service. It all worked out, but it involved getting a master run off and taking it to an Office Depot. Dennis took them on his motorcycle and Zach and I picked them up. Then dinner and hanging out pretty late. Sunday afternoon Fr. Tommy took me to lunch since he's over here on sabbatical. We had a great conversation and again, great food. I spent a bit of time working on a liturgy on Sunday afternoon and then it got lost. I've rebuilt it. More on that later, I think. That has been the last two weeks, in brief.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tuesday Trek

No, it was a Monday Trek. Tuesday was a very busy day. Tuesday we had staff morning prayer, staff meeting, liturgy meeting, lunch, then meeting with the clergy to work out what I'm going to be doing. It was very busy indeed. I took Tuesday off from running and am not taking today off so I can take tomorrow off. I need to plan next week's meals so that I can get stuff at market tomorrow. I shoot for four days a week. I still am pretty sure I hate it, though.

Monday I checked in and didn't have anything to do, so off I went! My friend Bret said that I had to go to this bakery, so I did. I walked there, and it was a lovely walk. I've decided to ignore Google's walking directions for places nearish the river and just walk along the river. It makes the walk so much nicer. On Saturday I went for a walk and was bored out of my wits because no one was around because I was going through business areas on a weekend and no one was around. Monday I walked along the river.

The bakery I went to was right off Bouleveard St. Michel, which meant I had to go through Place St. Michel. As I crossed the bridge onto the Left Bank I just burst into a smile. I was on familiar ground. The hotel we stayed at when I came with Troy wasn't far from Place St. Michel and the fountain was just as stunning as ever. The bakery was heavenly, and it was great to be in an area less expensive than where I live. Not dirt cheap by any means, but cheaper nonetheless. And I have good memories of that part of town! When Erin is here we're going to go hang out there some.

Monday I ran in the afternoon. I learned that I need to run later than I did that day when I'm running in the evening. It was warmer, bordering on too warm. The heat slowed me down some. The humidity here has been nice, bordering on being too dry. I don't want the South's gross weather by any means, but I don't mind some humidity. Enough to keep my skin from being grossly dry. That's a recap of this week. I'll write about the weekend in a few and then think I will be done? Catch-up = highlights.

Where to Wander and Wednesday

Wednesday I was in the office in the morning and wrote my learning agreement. In the afternoon the Dean and I made a pastoral visit to a hospital. The hospital was very near an area that the Dean very much likes. turns out, I do, too. It was a great place and I can't wait to get back and explore it. That'll be for a weekend or my next day off. After our hospital visit we went to get a treat and I got a hot chocolate. It was perhaps the best hot chocolate I've ever had. It was like hot chocolate ice cream in liquid form. It was amazing. So next time I wander it will be over in the 15th. I think I'm about done with the 8th.

Wednesday morning felt really productive as I was doing it. I intensively reviewed an ordination bulletin for tomorrow. I'm emceeing a diaconal ordination. That was somewhat time consuming! I had BCP, hymnal, and document all open as I tracked changes. It was fun, though. I'm going to be involved in planning and implementing two other special liturgies. That's my thing. I'm having a blast in doing it.

Wednesday night I tried my first Meet Up from meetup.org. It was a bust, I think. It was a movie night, but people weren't really watching the movie. It was at a bar and there was a drink special. People were in costumes, but there was really loud music overhead. I'm quite the extrovert normally, but when we're being blared over (versus all singing together!) my extroversion scale slides down. I'm trying again tonight with a dinner out. We'll see how it goes.

My blog entries are weird with time, I think. A lot of them can be written in quick succession but published periodically and reference different times. The cathedral has lots of fun sounds, too. This morning was organ rehearsal. Now the piano tuner is here. Mission lunch is happening, too, though I think they're almost finished. Oh, church life, it's great. :) Oh, and let's not forget that I'm writing on Paris time (so it's 1:55 PM) and my blog is set to Central or Eastern time. And this won't be published for another two hours.

Ascension Day Wandering

Why do I make things in parts? To keep a single entry from being too long. As someone who reads blogs, I'm far more likely to read a number of short posts from a blogger than a long post. So I'm trying to do that here and now in my getting caught up. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to write more regularly on here. I'm still establishing a routine and this hasn't found its way into it. My journal has, but the two are different. I'll be working backward, doing what's closest on my mind first. ;)

Yesterday was Ascension Day, which is a holiday. I got the day off totally. I ran some errands, but I had an adventure or two as well. I got up and ran and was slower than the day before, but I ran. I need to find a nice, sustainable pace that doesn't kill me. I didn't run this morning but will this afternoon. It seems that the earlier I go to bed the less I want to get up to run in the morning. I've been learning to cook, too. Yesterday I made egg salad for the first time but needed some bread, so I had to go to the supermarket to get it. I'd missed the market on Wednesday. The slices from the supermarket are too small! I have to turn them sideways in the toaster to toast them.

Most of yesterday afternoon was just down time, though. I went to L'Esplanade des Invalides and lay out for two hours. I'm trying to get/keep a tan. It was glorious. And then I just wandered around between there and the Eiffel Tower. I found a great street where things are a lot more affordable (food, primarily) than around here, and I can't wait to go eat there. I didn't spend too much time at the Eiffel Tower because I'll be going in a few weeks with Erin when she's here. I spent about two hours wandering around. I rested in my room and ate and then went wandering again. That walk wasn't as long. My neighborhood is very posh, so basically I was just looking at everything. Next time I'm going a different direction, a direction the dean showed me....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Philo-Semitism: A Primer

"Adam Kirsch reviews a new anthology on philo-Semitism that begins with a joke: “Q: Which is preferable—the antisemite or the philosemite? A: The antisemite—at least he isn’t lying.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Alive and Thriving

Just a short update. I'm still alive. Sorry for those who read (all six of you) that I haven't posted anything over here in a week or so. I'm doing well. I've been journaling every day. I'll try to do some getting caught up entries and try to do a better job posting. I think now I'm actually starting to get a routine going. Most of the last week has been wandering, which has been good for me. But similar to the first few days at the Hogar where we had to just rest and get to know the lay of the land it's been difficult for me.

Last night was probably the best feeling I had about wandering. I went to celebrate a week here with a reminder of home (Starbucks) and got to the Champs Élysées as the sun was kind of setting behind L'Arc de Triomphe. As I was making my way back I could see the cathedral spire from the distance...and it felt like I was walking home, like when I turn onto 21st St. and see the chapel tower in New York.

I'm doing well. I'm enjoying my time. I'm ready to feel like I'm accomplishing some things. That I've been here and done lots of touristy stuff is helpful. It gives me more ways to pace myself since I don't need to rush to get to lots of sites and museums. I've been journaling every day, but I have high standards to keep up with this after my January Journey. I write a lot more than "I went to a pretty church and it smelled like a church." I think I'll close this entry and start working on some more day-to-day stuff. Can't make them too long.

Running

I hate running. Every morning that I get up to run I cheer for myself (truly!) that I dragged my ass out of bed and ran. I don't feel more energized after the run or for the rest of the day. I don't feel high from running. The best parts of individual runs are how good whatever I drink right after tastes and how great being clean after the following shower feels. I run because over the last three years through diet and exercise (primarily running) I've lost 50 pounds and am at the weight I want to be at. Now I want to stay there.

I've been running consistently since October. (There was some slippage during the summer. CPE will do that to you.) This is how I feel after this, which is the longest I've run regularly. That's the end of my rant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Close to Another, Part 3: Routines

After we got back from the trip to see the parishioner, I went for a run. As I was getting changed I had the thought that this is familiar. I'm getting dressed upstairs in a Close and about to go run alongside a river. So, my place is 62 steps up a spiral staircase. My legs are going to be great by the end of the summer. I went for a run and didn't go as far as I expected to; I turned a bridge early, but I kept a very nice pace that I think I would've been able to sustain had I not turned early. Tomorrow I try that route again.

I cooked dinner after that. I had a pizza tonight and I will again tomorrow night. I only ate half. After last nights I needed to only eat half. I had some sandwiches from the grocery store for lunch. And now I'm trying to get some routines into place. I need to not eat dinner at 2100, thought I might just during the week. I want to get up early tomorrow, and I don't think that should be a problem. I'll get up to run, of course. And today I journaled at a cafe as part of my wandering. I wrote some thank you notes, too. Writing will be part of my routine, though I'm keeping that one and this one. Someone later in life will have to compare the two versions.

Running and eating are going to be part of routines. The Office will re-join my routine when the rest of my day has a routine. I'm about to sit down with my cook book and plan my menu for the rest of the week so that I can go grocery shopping tomorrow and then I'll go again on Saturday for more of next week. I don't know what I'll eat yet, but I want to experiment with a lot of different recipes through the summer. I'm very excited about cooking! And I'm very excited about sleeping and having a normal sleep schedule again.

One Close to Another, Part 2: Settling

I got into the office and the Dean was not in, but my upstairs neighbor was. His name is Zach, but not the Dean Zach. Zach the music guy. He did a great job welcoming me and helping me find where I was going. He brought me up the tower and carried a bag. My room is amazing. I say room when it's really three-ish. It's a studio, but it feels enormous! I have pictures that I'll try to upload tomorrow. I think every three days I'm going to drop pictures. Maybe I can find a theme to them or something.

So I found my place and got a shower. In Atlanta I'd bought a razor and shaving cream since I hadn't had a chance to shave in the morning craziness, but by this point I felt really gross. Showered, dressed, and then went down to look for the Dean. I found him, and he was in a meeting so I was given a time to come back. I did and we went to a cafe down the hill and had a glass of wine each.

While we were doing that we were looking at the Eiffel Tower. Amazing view just down the street. It still hasn't totally hit me that I'm in Paris. This morning it hit me that I'm going to be here three months. I love the number of lamps in my room. So, after our glasses of wine I was back to my place and then back to the Deanery for dinner. We had some wine there and then went to an Italian place. I took a picture of my food for almost an inside joke. It was very good, though, and the service was great.

I slept the latest this morning I will probably sleep all summer. I think I got up at 1000 or 1100, which was still 0300 or 0400 back in New York, so I wasn't sleeping till normal time, but it was late. I can't believe it's 2200 here; it's still so light out! When I got up I went down to the Dean's office to check in and was told to roam. This week or so is going to be roaming: getting acquainted with the places and the people, then we'll get into big activity.

So I roamed. I was looking for an Apple store that doesn't exist, and I found a grocery store. I got some stuff for today and now think I should've gotten some for tomorrow. I may go back and get it; it's open till 0000, but that's only two hours away! Just some cereal and milk. I had a great time there. I don't know how to cook and plan on learning some this summer. I realized at the grocery store that I don't know how to cook because I've never had to. I want to, though, so this should be fun.

After wandering I went back to the Dean's office to make a pastoral visit. It wound up not happening, but I got a nice bus ride.

One Close to Another, Part 1: Arrival

I moved on to a close asisde from General Seminary's yesterday. It's much smaller, but there is a cute little garden. I'm at the American Cathedral in Paris! I got here about 2:30 yesterday afternoon and have had a good time thus far. I can't believe it's 9:30 here. I'm going to make myself go to bed soon to fight jet lag stuff. I'll try to keep this brief but will probably fail.

Getting here was something of a disaster except it wasn't. I was hyper stressed because some things got a little out of line, but everything worked out and I made it. I had to go to a doctor before I left and that took more than twice as long as I expected between wait time and time spent with a healthcare professional. Then I was late getting Mom and still needed to throw stuff into my suitcase. We got the stuff and I opted to take the Groome shuttle that was 30 minutes later than my initial plan, and Mom and I got to have lunch, which was nice.

I got to Atlanta sooner than I'd planned given the new shuttle, and that was a big relief. We boarded late, but left on time. My flight to Barcelona was great. I watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and cried within the first few minutes. There will be another blog post about it coming, as soon as I see it and can take some notes. And then I slept. I woke up in Barcelona and commenced my second non-crisis.

Flying here with baggage is a lot easier than flying to Tuxtla. In Tuxtla I had to pick up my bags and re-check them. Here I did not, they went all the way to CDG with me...except I hadn't believed the desk agent in Atlanta when she said they would be in Paris, so I waited and looked for my bag. I finally realized it wasn't coming and then I went through security again and then sprinted down my terminal to get to my gate on time.

I made it and my flight was a breeze. I slept heavily through a good part of it. I woke up to the flight attendant nudging me to put my seat back up. My bag came relatively quickly, I called mom to check in, and I was on the RER without incident. When I got off the train I looked at a map and said, "So I have to cross the bridge and just keep going." When I got above ground I could see the spire and there was no question about where I was going. And so I went, thankful that I'd only been allowed to check one bag. While packing for three and a half months with vestments in a checked bag and carry on is potentially difficult, I remember dragging two bags from the train to the hotel three years ago, and I'm glad I didn't have to repeat that.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pray For Our Enemies

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5.43-48

I'm going to bed because I can't handle any more "rot in hell" statuses on Facebook about the potential death of Osama bin Laden.

Let us pray for our enemies not just in life, but also in death.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Newsletter July - September 02

"What will [the doctor] do when he sees only too clearly why his patient is ill; when he sees that it arises from his having no faith, because he is afraid to grope in the dark; no hope because he is disillusioned by the world and by life; no love but only sexuality; and no understanding, because he has failed to read the meaning of his own existence? Human thought cannot conceive any system or final truth that could give the patient what he needs in order to live: that is, faith, hope, love and insight." - Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p226.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mexico Sermon

So I preached in Mexico.  At long last, there is video. It's in two parts.  I'd embed but it's too wide and I don't feel like playing with pixel width right now.

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, April 8, 2011

Motivation

This is going to be my motivation for some things for the rest of the term:

"Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I didn't get the grant.  I need to tighten my budget...but not to the point of not living the rest of the term.  :) All shall be well.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bad News

This is my 400th post.  Huh.  Lose 50 pounds in three years, write 400 blog entries in three years. Well, I haven't hit the three year mark over here yet.  It's gone quickly, but I've been warned about that since high school.  Realize how quickly time passes. Three summers ago I spent ten days in Paris.  I worked at Northwestern for the summer.  I got on a scale and didn't like the number.  I decided my days on Xanga were done.

Last night I heard from Evangelical Education Society about my grant.  My grant proposal was not approved. I want to talk some more with the executive director (who offered to have such a conversation), but right now I have some feedback that I might get onto here.  I got approved by SCOM for my trip to Mexico, but they "don't approve grants to Europe." I'll wait until I've gotten some more info from EES before posting but I've got some strong feelings brewing.

I'm disappointed.  I've been saving all year for the trip.  I haven't been relying on the grant to go, but it would've helped with some padding.  Part of me wants to ask for help, but a bigger part of me (for now) wants to try to be independent and not ask for help. Part of me also feels like there are others who need help more than I do.  Yeah, I know, right?  I've talked a lot this week about relying on others. I find a pattern of trying to rely on myself, failing, and then getting thumped for it.

I am proud.  I hate it.  I didn't get the grant I wanted.  I'm disappointed.  I know that things will work out.  I'm going to do work.  That's the point.  It started with wanting to go to Paris for the summer to do something fun and do some work with a church.  Now that I have a plan and an objective, I'm going to work. There is work that the local leadership has said needs to be done, and they think that I can help get it going, so that's why I'm going.

How many times do I have to remind myself that it's not about me?  God deliver me of my pride, help me to trust in you, and remember the things you've done for your people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sharing the Gospel is Dangerous

"If we say we want to translate the gospel with young people, this is what we are saying: we are willing to put the very power of the gospel itself -- the very power of the Word of God -- into the hands of teenagers, people who do not view culture the way we view culture, who do not hear God the way we hear God, who will not worship the way we worship, who will not 'do church' the way we want them to simply because they will be listening to Jesus and not to us.  Catechesis behind the wall is a mixed bag.  Yes, young people fortified by these conversations quickly puncture the flimsy spiritualities of Therapeutic Moralistic Deism as the on-the-wall conversation with culture begins to include them.  But what if they trust us?  What if they love the God we say we love?  What if they imitate Christ, share his wasteful grace, and embody his self-giving love in the world?  In short, what if they get their hands on the gospel?  Then where will we be?" - Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian


This kind of thing I love.  But it also scares me.  Dean is writing about youth ministry, but I read it as I am twenty-four and preparing for ordination...and I read it as just a young adult.  She's targeting youth ministers I'm thinking that a lot of what she is saying is applicable to me and people my age.  I don't want to say that I'll be listening to Jesus and not "adults" but I do get nervous sometimes about an Establishment shutting down ideas from me or my peers because its different.  Maybe they'll have other reasons, and maybe some of them will be valid.

But I've already encountered (not about me) push back from higher ups when people want to do something different.  And it's just that it's different.  They may've tried to say something else, but it was just words and they were scared of something different.  I hope that system doesn't chew me up and spit me out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2 Lent, Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, you sought not your own will, but the will of the One who sent you: Strengthen us to do those things which you have tasked us to do, knowing that we can do nothing under our own authority, that at the last day you will not accuse us before the Father but know us completely.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

O Lent.  I'm so tired of Jeremiah, and I'm only in chapter 5.  It's good for Lent and being told to repent.  Its pericopes are hard to base collects on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blessed Little Thought for the Eve of the Annunciation

Joseph P. Mathews
Eve of the Annunciation
24 March 2011
Gen. 3.1-15; Gal 4.1-7
Evensong, Trinity Church, Wall Street

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” Amen.

On first reading, I thought these texts we somewhere between bizarre and awful for talking about, especially in light of what we’re celebrating. Then I read them again and got it. From the beginning of time God has loved us. God created us in God’s image but we failed as people. God didn’t stop loving us. While our forebears Adam and Eve – however you understand them – weren't perfect, that wasn’t the end of the story. Through all of the Hebrew scriptures God pursues and continues to save God’s people. But starting in our Genesis reading God gives a heads up that one born of human flesh will strike the head of the serpent.

And then God pursued us by coming to be with us and loving us and learning what being us was like. Tomorrow is the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel tells Mary that she’s going to be the mother of God. Nine months before Christmas. Makes sense, huh? But after he’s born Jesus teaches us how to be better – and it’s not by focusing on ourselves. The message he preaches is about loving others and he loved us to be like us. Dwelling among us is a missionary act, where God leaves the comfort zone and comes to be with us. In the same way that God’s love made God leave a place of familiarity, so too are we to leave our places. We have been adopted as Children of God. God loves us and calls us to give of ourselves for others in our love.

2 Lent, Thursday

God, you raise the dead and give them life: Raise us up from all our deaths that we may honor Jesus, believe in him, and have eternal life through him and the Holy Spirit who with you live and reign one God now and forever.  AMen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Identity

"The gospel's central message -- that God loves us enough to die for us -- severs self-serving spiritualities like Moralistic Therapeutic Deism at the root. Christian identity comes from worshipping a God who loves us enough to suffer on our behalf, and who calls us to enact this kind of love for others: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." - Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian.

I'm reading this and getting lots of good data...and having to ask myself lots of hard questions about how to articulate what I believe.  I have been trained with a vocabulary that I don't find useful anymore (it's heavily focused on penal substitutionary atonement), but I haven't been in another school long enough to be able to talk about it much.  Yesterday I was wrestling with this some and now maybe I'll stat getting some new vocabulary, too.

2 Lent, Wednesday

Merciful God, who is not angry forever: Give us courage and strength to return to you time and again as you call us and have mercy on us so that we may see that you are still working with your Son Jesus Christ who with you lives and reigns forever and ever.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2 Lent, Tuesday

O God, the fountain of living waters: Give us ears to hear your prophets remind us of the devotion of our youth so that we may rely on you rather than ourselves as the provider of our needs for we cannot hold water; we ask this through Jesus who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit from age to age.  Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Children in Church

"Adult members sometimes complain that they cannot pay attention to the sermon, they cannot listen to the beautiful music, when fidgety children are beside them in the pews.  'Send them away.' many adults say.  Create 'Children's Church' so that these distracting children can be removed in order that we adults can pay attention.

"Interestingly, Jesus put a child in the center of his disciples, 'in the midst of them,' in order to help them pay attention.  The child, in Jesus' mind, was not an annoying distraction.  The child was a last-ditch effort by God to help the disciples pay attention to the odd nature of God's kingdom.  FEw acts of Jesus are more radical, countercultural than his blessing of children."

 - Hauerwas and Willimon, Resident Aliens