Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm running and I won't touch ground

Ain't nothin' gonna to break my stride
Nobody's gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin'
Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride
I'm running and I won't touch ground
Oh-no, I got to keep on movin'

---Men at Work

I was trying to get things organized for my trip (and for my novel, 'cause for the fifth year in a row I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month-- and yet I'm not taking my laptop to DC. This is going to be INTERESTING). Last night, I paused for a moment to sit on the couch and watch a little Van Helsing with my housemates*... and promptly fell asleep.

So now, not only do I have none of my packing done, I didn't even get a chance to prepare anything for Los Dias De Los Muertos, the main celebrations of which begin tonight and continue through All Souls on the 2nd.

My family never really was one to go picnic in the graveyard, but I still like to have a little memorial up for my loved ones, little sugar skulls, some marigolds, and of course tequila and dulces.

Pause sometime in these three days and welcome home the memories of those who have passed on.

Cry if you must.
Laugh if you can.
Love them always.

* Not counting myself, there are six people living in my house. And we still have one empty room.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Conversation

Me: People are really starting to annoy me.

Culturally Buddhist Coworker: Wha'd [Enduser] do now?

Me: No, this is about my trip. People are getting their knickers in a twist.

CBC: You're going with your church, right?

Me: Kind of. I mean, it involves my church on the national level, and so many people are cranky about it that they're starting to harsh my mellow, man.

CBC: Why?

Me: Because the leader we elected is a woman, oh noes! Flee! The sky is falling!

CBC: Pfft. They need to get a life.

Me: Seriously. I'm all, "Ok, so I've got to pack, arrange transport to and from the airport, figure out what I'm going to wear to the party, finish up my price hold reports, brief my backup on current situations in my queue, and wonder if I'm going to have a phobia-induced panic attack somewhere over the Midwest. I don't have time to worry about piddly crap like whether or not my presiding bishop's gender offends some yabo's delicate nature."

CBC: That's right, you tell them.

Me: I'm going to have a good time on this trip, or else. And anyone who gets between me and a good time is going the the right way for a smacked bottom. In Christian charity, of course.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Planning for Pilgrimmage, Remembering History

This is my first, long-distance pilgrimmage. I'm quite terribly excited. It's not just a pilgrimmage to the Seat of the Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA, it's also a pilgrimmage to the seat of US Government.

When your college degree can be summarized as "The United States of America's International Relations during the Late 20th Century", you become a little attached to Washington, DC. I even tried getting hotel reservations at the Watergate.

The ECUSA and the USA were born at the same time, which explains why their governing bodies and policies resemble each other.

Which kind of sucks because that means both systems were designed to consolidate power among a select group of people. For all that the United States promotes itself as a democracy, we are not. We are a republic, where everyone votes for a few people, who then go and make all the important decisions that the rest of us aren't smart enough to make.

Read the US Constitution, the whole thing in its original format, and you'll see the pattern written there as clear as day. The checks and balances are there, of course, to keep that small group of people who we put in charge from totally running roughshod over us, but it's pretty clear that while we may assert we are all created equal, the Founding Fathers did their best to try and keep the wrong sort of people out of the decision-making process on all levels.

The Founding Fathers weren't total jerks, though. They understood that things would change, that their document was just a set of hypothesies to frame the great American Experiment, and that change was neccessary. They put in ways that the Constitution itself could be modified as needed. Damnable difficult ways, which increased the likelyhood it wouldn't be amended without serious discussion, thought, and demand by a popular majority. Which has lead over the last 200 years, to several important changes that have put more of the power into the hands of the populace, from simplifying the Electoral College (yes, it's actually simpler now) to voter-initiated referrendums.

Despite the fact there are other democracies and republics in the world, some of them even based off of our own, the USA is an anomaly, an exception, a freak accident of politics. There is no other system in the world that matches ours. We have over 150 years of continuous governance with no coups, no competing governments, no mass invasions. Almost a century with no warfare on our soil. Almost a century of continuous, compulsory education for 12 years, which serves not only to create an informed populace, but to indoctrinate generations with the unique American paradox.

This is why people like Kim Jong Il and ++Peter Akinola will never understand the American mindset. Because America has refined individuality into an art form, and yet we can work together in groups without forcing one another to give up our individuality. In fact, we can bring in people from other groups, from societies and nations and churches that do not believe in individuality, that believe we should all work, act, talk, dress and behave the same, and include them without demanding they become wholly like us.

There are Americans who subscribe to this mindset, also. As a historian, I can tell you in honest, factual truth: there always has been. And always, always, always, the American Experiment has won out because there is room for every opinion, even the opinion that the American Experiment in individualism is wrong, bad, evil, and must be stopped.

This experiment in government has lasted 200 years, both in its secular version and its ecclesiastical version. It has grown and changed in 200 years. I believe that neither the USA nor the ECUSA will be ending any time soon, but I see a growth spurt and change in its future.

And that's kind of exciting to this historian.

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the
earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace:
Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the
strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in
accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Random question

During the Eucharistic Prayer at your PoW*, are there any local saints mentioned regularly? I.E, "In the communion with the Blessed Virgin Mary, our patron [Thatguy], Bl. [Guy who Founded Parish], and all the company of heaven..."



And now, for fun, stolen from Monastic Mumblings, How People of Faith Read a Stop Sign

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

Damn, I should like, you know, stop editing my blog and work and stuff... as soon as I point you to this Something Positive comic. Outside of this Holy Ghost Stories plotline, the copmic is pretty much NSFPWAEO**.

*Place of Worship
**Not Safe For People Who Are Easily Offended

Monday, October 23, 2006

The 'S' Word

I am probably the only person in the entire world who accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior during a Stewardship sermon.

(This was a full-on Health and Wealth, Give Us Money And God Will Give You A Mercedes Benz sermon, too. Those exact words. And no, not in an Episcopal or Methodist church. It was in 2002, the year in which I moved three times over a 150 square mile area, got engaged and disengaged, cut 18 inches off my 20-inch-long hair, don't remember anything from September and October, and was a Fundamentalist Charismatic Baptist Pentecostal for six months. Good times, good times.)

Anywhoo, I think the pastor of the Fundicharisbapticostal church was just going through the motions of the altar call, because he sure as heck looked at me funny when I came walking up the aisle. I have to admit, however, I wasn't listening much to his sermon. I was having a little argument with God about life, the Universe, and everything, and what my job in L,tU&E actually was.

(I actually tune out a lot during sermons. It's not because of bad preaching, it's because I have the attention span of an encephillatic fruit fly.)

Since this was the first time I fully participated in a church (read: had a paycheck of my very own), I was weaned on a Fundicharisbaptiscostal version of Stewardship that has left me totally bemused by the Episcopalian version of Stewardship.

First of all, Episcopalians keep talking about 'time, treasure, and talent'. Isn't that the most delightfully vauge statement! And then there's pledge cards, all of which I've seen have "I will give [insert dollar figure] over [insert time period]." How quaint! And the cards are mailed and returned anonymously, so as not to give offense. And the budget, while it's 'available' for everyone because the church is a nonprofit organization, well, you usually have to know someone who knows someone who is in the know to get a copy.

The Fundicharisbaptiscostals didn't go for this fluffy bunny approach. We were told that we were to be at church four times a week (a 'teaching together' night, a Bible Study, then Wednesday evening and Sunday morning worship). We were told that 10% of our paycheck belonged to God, and God got His money first, even before the landlord. Talents? Oh, honey, if you showed a smidgeon of capability in an area, you were invited to join that ministry, and they would keep inviting you, until you joined (I was a First Embrace minister-- I got to stand at the front door and make sure every person who walked in got a full contact bear hug. No, I'm not kidding.)

Oh, yes, I know most of my readers (all three of ya) are going, "OMG, no, that would NEVER fly at my church!" Well, it wouldn't fly at Current!Parish, neither. And I'd be screaming as loud as the rest of everyone (there's a reason why I left the Fundicharisbaptiscostals, after all). But the Fundicharisbaptiscostals? They were growing at a net rate of 5 families a week. In the six months I was there, in addition to meeting operating costs, they raised $150,000 towards purchase of a new facility (I'm fairly certain the several million dollar building is paid off by now). I still give a regular percentage of my paycheck, and the first bill I pay is my pledge to the Church (and then to Episcopal Relief and Development), and the Church gets a lot of my time and talents on top of everything.

So, I went and opened my big, fat mouth and am now a member of the Stewardship Team at Current!Parish. And I'm combining my six months as a Fundicharisbaptiscostal with my eight months as a professional telephone fundraiser, and as God is my witness, at the very minimum, we are going to have not-at-all vauge, multiple choice checkbox pledge cards and a giant thermometer in the parish hall!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Pilgrim-Tourist

Quick update: Yes, I've spent most of this week getting my behind kicked by the nasty cold virus going around. Don't be me, suck it up and get some Dayquil and Nyquil, it will make life much easier.

Exactly two weeks from now, I will be in Washington, DC. Probably looking for lunch.

This is my very first trip to the Nation's Capital by my lonesome self. I've been twice before, but both times I was with my family and the most recent (in 2003) we were in town for five hours before heading for Backwoods, VA and my sister's college graduation. My mother asked where I wanted to go in DC in the five hours we had there, and as a brand-spanking new Episcopalian, I immediately chimed, "National Cathedral!"

And so my parents and I traveled to the nation's Cathedral, and pretty much as soon as we got in the door and I saw that big ol' altar and bowed to it, I knew I'd made a misteak. Mom was cool and all with the Cathedral, and had toured it on one of her previous trips, and she'd known intellectually I'd switched churches, but her baby daughter was CROSSING HERSELF OHEMGEE!

It was a kind of awkward tour, until we got into the gift shop. Because if there's one thing I've inherited from my mother, it's the ability to find inappropriate humor in all places. No, I won't tell you what tchotchkie had my mother and I giggling madly and yelling, "Da! DAD! Get over here and look at this!". Because then they won't let me back in for the Investiture.

The important thing is that on this trip, my mother will be about 3000 miles away. And I will be navigating the Metro without the aid of my father's Metro-map t-shirt. And that means I can go pretty much wherever I want to go.

(The astute will note that I have made no mention of the Episcopal Majority meeting, which begins exactly two weeks from today in DC. Because I'm not going. Damnit, I am flying 3000 miles across the country on a financially-ill-advised field trip, to a city with a wealth of museusm filled with cultural and national treasures that provide free admission. Free national treasures, or $25 to sit in a parish hall. Hmmm.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Talking about Church Without Talking About Church.

This article has been making the rounds of various places I hang out. I don't know Rod Dreher from Adam, so I can't comment on him or his recent 'shocking' conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. But I still read the article, because I like reading conversion stories, to see how people reached the current place in their spiritual journeys. I sure hope Mr. Dreher finds joy and peace in his parish, especially once the spiritual high of the new convert wears off.

However, one thing he said struck me right between the eyes and won't let go.

What's more, I had become the sort of Catholic who thought preoccupying himself with Church controversies and Church politics was the same thing as preoccupying himself with Christ. Me and my friends would go on for hours and hours about what was wrong with the Church, and everything we had to say was true. But if you keep on like that, it will have its effect. One night, some Catholic friends left after a long and vivid night of conversation, and Julie and I reflected that we had all spent the entire evening talking about the Church -- but never mentioned Jesus.

Let that sink in a minute, O Christian bloggers. Whom are we spending our time talking about?

I, personally, would like to give thanks to God today for Dayquil.

Monday, October 16, 2006

File this bad boy under 'DUH!'

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan.
You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition.
You believe that God's grace enables you to
choose to believe in him, even though
you yourself are totally depraved. The gift
of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance
of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the
life of obedience to which God has called us.
You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Yeah. 17 years as a card-carrying Methodist wouldn't have anything to do with this at all, nu?

Still working on the announcement thing. Really. It will happen. Um, eventually.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Newsflash: Why am I in this handbasket?

According to Kevin D. Denee of the Restored Church of God's Ambassador Youth magazine, blogs are encouraging people to have and express opinions.

The Internet—and more specifically blogs—has enabled everyone to have a voice on any matter. Now everyone’s thoughts are “published” for all to see. Whether or not it is effective, as soon as something is posted the person has a larger voice. It often makes the blogger feel good or makes him feel as if his opinion counts—when it is mostly mindless blather!

After reading this article, literally dozens of bloggers immediately jumped online to express their thoughts and opinions on the article, the article's author, the article's punctuation, the style layout of the article, and organize seating arrangements on the bus to Hell. I call a window seat.

(Via Pieces of Flair who got it from Cruel)

College Student Rocks World Religious Leaders with Pronouncement

Jeremey Buckley, a college student at the University of Nebraska, rocked the world's religious leaders yesterday with his article entitled, "Religion Does Not Always Make Sense to All".

The Pope addressed Mr. Buckley's article in his Wednesday Angelus message by saying, "Jeez, sorry guys, I thought we'd made it pretty darn clear with the love God and love your neighbors stuff... Oh, well, better luck next time." The Dalai Lama reportedly started laughing so hard that he was crying, at which point he said, "Good joke."

Not all religious leaders took such a light tone with Buckley's remarks. "You will all burn!" said the guy on Hawthorne. "You will all burn for your hedonistic ways! Hey! Hey you! Wanna buy some weed? Heathen!"

The remarks from the Chabad representatives manning the portable sukkah outside of The Bagdad Pub and Theater seems to sum up the majority of the opinions of regular religious people. "Has he even tried to understand religion?" The Chabad representative scoffed, "Or is he just judging it based on what he's learned from television and movies?"


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wednesday announcement

Hi folks!

The announcement is--- that the announcement has been postponed.

Something's going to change with this blog, and I'm still trying to figure out what, when, and how.

But I've got a metric crapload of stuff to take care of (and the Bishop's coming visiting this weekend) so I have to put this on the back burner.


Monday, October 09, 2006


In an article on Salon.com today, Stephen Baldwin says that God told him to make the horrible 1990s movie Bio-Dome.

In a statement released by God's publicist, God is all, "Oh, hells no! Don't try to blame that shit on me!"

Notes from this week's sermon

'Mind you, I didn't give the sermon, I'm paraphrasing without permission, but Deacon Chata said some interesting things I wanna remember.

-- A lot of people insist that they are better Christians/spiritual people when they're alone in the middle of Nature with no one but themselves and God. But there is only one time during the Creation Stories that God takes a look around and says, "This isn't a good thing". And that's when humankind (Edom/Adam/That One Guy) is alone in the middle of Nature with no one but him and God.

-- God creates another human being, and Adam is ecastic because he not only recognizes a part of himself in another person, but because he has someone else to love.

-- "Love sucks sometimes." Especially when our loves leave us. Living alone and being alone sucks rocks. Part of the point of getting our butts out of bed on Sunday is to come together with other human beings, to get out of our lonlieness and create a community of love (even though it also means we have to deal with the annoyances that being with other human beings brings)

And now, my own reflection on the Gospel lesson-- When the Pharasiees came up and asked about divorce, they were testing Jesus. It's the equivalent of our "Where do you stand on the Ordination of Women?" or "Does God make homosexuals?" It's to test where on the political spectrum Jesus fell. Jesus goes and does that Teacher thing where you answer a question with another question (which is my all-time favorite thing to do when I'm teaching), and asks pretty much, "What does the Bible say? What does tradition say? What have you guys always done?"

So they tell him.

And Jesus proceeds to scold them and turn their perceptions upside-down.

Jesus was always doing things like that.
Jesus is always doing annoying things like that.
Jesus will always do annoying things like that, and people will get cranky at Him for it.

In other news, check back here on Wednesday. Big things happening. It'll be fun. I think.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Happy feast of St. Francis!

Take a minute today and celebrate the goodness of God's creation (I, personally, am going to eat an apple that is AS BIG AS MY HEAD, no foolin' AND it's organically grown). Here is an excellent article on St. Francis' spiritual practices, because I think most people just know him as "that guy who talked to birds and stuff".

And spare a minute to pray for Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church, who was found murdered in his rectory yesterday. May light perpetual shine upon him. :votive:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fasting and Temptation

The Adversary has three super-duper pack-a-wallop weapons in its arsenal for Sunday mornings:
1) cold bathroom tile
2) warm bedding
3) leftover pizza

After 22 years of pretty regular church attendance (come hell or high water), the first two don't faze me for more than a few minutes. I don't get the spiritual tingles at church every Sunday, but when I've missed a one, there's this feeling deep inside me that there's something wrong. So I toss back the covers and do the cold-tile dance in the bathroom.

I fast before partaking of the Eucharist. It's a thing. That I started when I was a Methodist and we only got it once a month. When you can roll out of bed at 8.30a and still make it to church in time for the 9am service, well, fasting is super-easy.

Except when you have to get up at 7.30am after you'd capped a long Saturday of packing and moving by staying up until 1am chattering with new housemates, and there's that cold pizza smell lingering in the kitchen. Oh, and it was GOOD pizza; with locally made pepperoni and a fabulously thin crust. I swear I heard my stomach gurgle, "Gimme pizza! Gimme pizza NOW!"

I certainly don't think I'm going to go to Hell for having a piece of pizza before church. And, you know, the drive is long, and there's choir rehersal beforehand, and I've got a tendency towards low blood sugar that makes me cranky...

The Rationalization Train was just pulling into the station, and I was thinking about swinging on board. But each rationalization could be met with another one. My low blood sugar wouldn't hurt anyone, and I am a grown-up who can watch what I say to people. The drive is 15 minutes, on quiet city streets, quit whining. And I may not go to Hell for eating a piece of pizza, but I'm trying for more discipline in my spiritual life, not less, and that would set a dangerous precedent.

"Besides," I thought to myself, "No one's going to eat the pizza before I get back."

Famous last words.