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


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!


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


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.


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.