Thursday, March 24, 2011
First and foremost, I am finally admitting that my life as I am living it is not
effective for things that matter most, and I need to take a calm look and ask God what changes are needed.
I have tried to respond to the special needs of my family and the needs of my parish by taking a second job that provides good health care for the former and reduces some budget pressure on the latter.
The net result is that neither my family nor my parish are well served by me as a person. I'm not available enough to either one in the personal, intangible ways that provide some of God's best stuff, and my stress annoys both family and parish. Tasks get done, errands get run, events get held. At the end of the day, most of that doesn't stand up to the question, "So what?" Blogging becomes a waste of time under such conditions.
"Seek first the kingdom of God," says Jesus, "and God will take care of the basic stuff." I need to get my priorities back in order. Too many concerns about too many things are shrivelling the fruit of the Spirit in my life.
And then there's the obvious problem of "niche." There's really not much to report about Episcopal/Anglican doings. Looking across the Episcopal/Anglican blogosphere, every day seems to be a slow news day. It's all been said. Continued commentary becomes self -... what? Self-serving? Self-deceiving? Self-absorbed? Anyway, there are facebook pages, tweets, blogs, websites and other media way out of proportion to the tiny Episcopal/Anglican presence in North America. If our action ever caught up with our words we might be dangerous.
I've met some great folks, in and out of church, by keeping up this blog. I certainly give thanks for that. Hope some good stuff came your way as a visitor here. I'll avoid the obligatory "sorry if anything hurt you," because relationships are not built or rebuilt by that kind of boilerplate. I will, however, confess that I've been the bad guy sometimes in stuff posted here.
God's peace be with you.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
JAMA needs 14 studies to find out what a South Dakotan in a driveway can tell ya
"An analysis of 14 previous heart studies in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that irregular bouts of physical activity can be a trigger for a heart attack or sudden death, while infrequent episodes of sexual activity increased the risk for just heart attacks. No studies looked at the association of sexual activity and sudden cardiac death."
Or as folks here have always warned me, there's a "heart attack season" when folks emerge from winter inactivity and overeating to shovel a bunch of heavy March snow.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
South Dakota's Governor signs 3-day wait for abortion into law; activist lawsuits next
"The bill requires women to wait 72 hours between contacting an abortion provider and having an abortion. It also requires them to seek counseling with crisis pregnancy centers, groups that consult 'with women for the purpose of helping them keep their relationship with their unborn children,' before undergoing the procedure...
"...'I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,' Daugaard said. 'I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.'"
ACLU and Planned Parenthood threatened the state with lawsuit expenses if the Governor signed, and that's exactly what's next.
The hyperbole and emoting are well underway around the net and the news. I'm not linking to the commentary on this as folks on all "sides" can probably recite all the arguments from memory, and we all just aggravate one another.
It is truly hard to add anything of value to this debate - I understand the critique, even within Christian commentary - about churches seeming to line up on this or that "political" side or wallowing in single issue causes.
But I also react badly to the viciousness and, frankly, incoherence on the "choice side." People who are about social justice, "It takes a village to raise a child," (quotes are because it's someone else words I'm borrowing, not sarcasm) and science become libertarians, radical individualists and vulgar know-nothings on this one issue. I've seen their middle fingers on 41st Street here in Sioux Falls, absorbed their F-bombs, and seen the absolute crazy hate in their eyes.
Most of all, I stand aghast at the endless assertion of a "right" to abort that ignores any substantive discussion of when life begins, or when a couple's responsibility for pregnancy kicks in, or what form the community's responsibility to couples should take - a "right" defended in constant abstractions and evasions that stifle rather than support human understanding and relationship.
Look, I will be what the shorthand calls "pro-life" no matter what any particular law says. And there are plenty of other things that people like me preach, at which people - even church people - roll their eyes, walk away and do the opposite. Goes with the job.
Saddest thing? On something as basic as human love, bonding and life-giving, we are politicized and polarized, dehumanized in some really tragic ways. Elective abortion is just one symptom of the deep wounds in our culture. May we find the path to healing and wholeness - to life.
Some moral thoughts - and an example - from ESPN.com
I sent him a note to tell him he was in my prayers, and he sent a kind message in reply.
ESPN.com's Johnette Howard thinks that the example he's set deserves more attention and emulation, and says so in an editorial:
...In addition to practical moves like beefing up USC's compliance department and appointing a senior-level liaison (read: watchdog) over the football program and trouble-magnet coach Lane Kiffin, Haden embarked right away on a listening tour with coaches and athletes throughout the USC program. He has said it sparked a lot of introspection about his own life as a student-athlete, and he's made a concerted effort to stress to current athletes how they should look beyond the baseline or goal line and ahead to the rest of their lives.
"I'm embarrassed I can't speak a second language fluently," Haden told the New York Times in the same story in which Nikias spoke. "I should have taken advantage more of this international population here. I wish I would have done some research in one of the labs here. I wish I would have tried out for a play. Isn't that the point of the college experience -- getting outside your comfort zone? So I'm definitely going to encourage it."
If you think about it, what Haden is encouraging, really, is a departure from how athletes are too often apart from the rest of the academy, a theme that critics of big-time college sports have been harping on for years. Beneath Haden's message is a sort of Renaissance-man twist, an exhortation to find a higher purpose. And consider the possible implications: Couldn't it follow that if you could change student-athletes' view of themselves, and their consciousness of how they fit into the bigger world around them, it might change their ethos too?
Would jocks still feel so entitled and special if they got out of their bubble a little more and got some contradictory evidence that they really ain't all that in the grand scheme of things? Might they not be more humbled when presented with flesh-and-blood proof that, yes, they may be the latest guys who arrived at USC able to juke a linebacker or throw a tight spiral, but compared to someone as accomplished as Haden -- who did all that and so much more, yet still talks with genuine humility about what's left to achieve -- there's still so much more to strive for? So much that makes a meaningful life? Is the secret to a better NCAA insisting on, not retreating from, the idea of building better people?
That's an idealistic approach, all right. And so what? What does the NCAA or scandal-weary college sports fans have to lose? Haden's tone is better than all these coaches and administrations who throw up their hands and just agree, "College sports is broken, all right."
Other people may give lip service to reform, but so far, anyway, Haden and Nikias are trying to live it at one of the most sports-addled behemoths on the college map. It's early, granted. But the way Haden handled the O'Neill situation even though the Trojans risked missing the NCAA tournament underscored that USC is serious. So why not nominate Haden for an even bigger stage?
Haden for NCAA President.
Some great pics of Sioux Falls...
He's got all kinds of good ones at his flickr gallery.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Cranmer Blog: On this day, 455 years ago, Archbishop Cranmer was martyred
There are excerpts from a 2006 sermon by the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at a 2006 commemoration of Cranmer's martyrdom, including
"...It led Cranmer - as it led so many others in that nightmare age, as it led the martyrs of our own age - Bonhoeffer, Maria Skobtsova, Janani Luwum - to something more than a contemplative silence: to a real death. When we say that the word of God is not bound, we say that death itself can be the living speech of God, as the Word was uttered once and for all in the silence at the end of Good Friday. Cranmer speaks, not only in the controlled passion of those tight balances and repetitions in his Prayer Book, but in that chilling final quarter of an hour. He ran through the downpour to the town ditch and held out his right hand, his writing hand, for a final composition, a final liturgy. And, because the word of God is not bound, it is as if that hand in the flames becomes an icon of the right hand of Majesty stretched out to us for defence and mercy."
This is the first video he shares. If you now or have ever used a BCP, I think you will be moved. And if you haven't, take a few moments and I think you will find some surprises in this:
Episcopal Bishop gets honest: Lawsuits are for property to liquidate, not use
"We have a responsibility to protect the property, name and other assets built up over 170 years by North Texas Episcopalians for use by future generations." Bishop Wallace Ohl
But in an interview run in the Modesto (CA) Bee newspaper last Saturday, Bishop Chester Talton says,
"The national church is supporting the diocese to a considerable extent. We expect the diocese will regain its assets and property and that will assist in paying back those costs."
h/t Anglican Curmudgeon
Episcopal House of Bishops punted to activists, it appears
"Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion..."
So, the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music held a big do last Friday-Saturday in Hotlanta - while the Bishops themselves were traveling to other venues. It appears that the Bishops simply handed this whole thing over to the activists ("inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations and individuals who are engaged in such theological work...")
Frankly, "theological reflection" was invited from the Anglican Communion, which said "no thanks" in 1998. "Theological reflection" was invited from the House of Bishops Theology Committee in 2003 and they said, "Not the right time for the church to do this." "Theological reflection" was "invited" from the 10% of the Episcopal Church's active members who subsequently left to form a separate denomination, and thousands more who simply walked out the church door and never came back.
Campy, sorry, pathetic joke on the lot of us.
Good caution for bloggers... and me especially when I comment
Sunday, March 20, 2011
AP Feature on Indian Youth Suicide Crisis
"Suicide is the second-leading cause of death behind unintentional injuries among Indian children and young adults, and is on the rise, according to the Indian Health Service. Native Americans ages 10 to 24 killed themselves at more than twice the rate of similarly aged whites, according to the most recent data available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
The Diocese of South Dakota is working to implement an ambitious model of at-risk youth ministry on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations. The model seeks to raise up local leadership from among the Tribal young people. Details are on the first page of the latest Diocesan newsletter.
Fr. Tony Clavier (formerly SD): Sermon at Consecration of Bp. Dan Martins
"Eric Mascall, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century disliked the term 'apostolic succession.' It can mean that Anglican obsession with proving itself valid and authentic. It may also sound like Genealogy, which my mother always said provided one with ancestors one would never invite to tea...
"You Dan are also being incorporated into the worldwide College of Bishops. You must constantly remind us that we are not an American sect or a Western sect, but rather, as our Constitution reminds us and the Creeds teach, part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Holding the universal and the local in tension without favoring one over the other seems to tax our imagination, particularly when we consider the Covenant, which I support. It is not difficult for God, who is Trinity in unity and unity in Trinity...
"Jesus is described in the New Testament as 'Prophet, Priest and King' and we, the church, through our baptism share in this vocation. Perhaps only Jesus is truly Prophet, Priest and King. The Church as God sees it is a reflection of such a ministry. We, alas, are fallen.
"Dear Dan, my friend, don’t attempt to be prophetic. It’s an assumption tending towards personal vanity. I hear there is a long line of new bishops in our church applying for the charism of Prophet, a smaller line applying for Priest, while no bishop in the US has applied for King since 1776.
"Stand as the Priest in this diocese, bring your people and the world to God, in submission and prayer. Stand for God and your people and this mid western world as you offer God’s forgiveness and love.
The Early Church abolished the order of prophet. It had become a nuisance! Remember that our Lord is the Prophet. The church isn’t a playground to be fixed, it is the Body of Christ. Rather be a pastoral bishop and draw all sides of our divided church into unity. Today there are people in this place together who usually would not wish to be seen together in our divided church. Jesus has enabled you to draw them together to pray for you Dan and to consecrate you. One hopes this is not a lost opportunity. We can find similar ways to enter into dialog without renouncing our principles. Remember that there is a chance that our principles are not God’s, or not entirely of God..."
Latest meetings show Episcopal Church fragmented, incoherent and in some cases dishonest
Lay and clergy Deputies of the Episcopal Church General Convention (although not all of them, just one invited guest from each geographic diocese) met with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music in Atlanta on March 18-19 to develop rationale (bit late for that, as you will see) and ceremonies celebrating same sex relationships.
Meanwhile, it appears that the House of Bishops, the ministers of the church who are "to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855) were not included in the event.
It is hard to get a handle on the House of Bishop's schedule - I've checked various Bishops' calendars at diocesan websites and it appears that some are using this weekend to travel to Kanuga, NC for spring meetings. It is possible that some of them went to the LGBT conference in Atlanta, but it does not appear that the HOB was there as a body or in an official role. It's also clear that the Presiding Bishop and others spent Saturday in Springfield, IL for the consecration of a new Bishop.
It is nonsense to have a handpicked group of single-issue activists articulating the church's teaching and worship without the participation of the order of ministry charged with those responsibilities. The Episcopal Church includes all orders of ministry (including lay people) in decision making bodies, but each order has some unique responsibilities. A "theology and worship" meeting without Bishops is incoherent in an "Episcopal" church.
But it gets crazier than that. The Underground Pewster has the video report of the event, and it turns out that many dioceses, despite The Episcopal Church's representations of "restraint" to other Anglicans around the world, have been holding same sex ceremonies for some time. And over half of those who admit to having done them did not engage in any kind of theological discussion or teaching with their congregations - they just went ahead (even ahead of pro-LGBT resolutions) and did what they pleased - lying about it all the time to the rest of the church.
Meanwhile, in the UK, liberal Christian and LGBT supporter Theo Hobson wrote a scathing editorial about the LGBT activist wing of the church becoming a "self-righteous subculture" that makes the church less inclusive and effective, even for progressives.
"put to flight all the darkness of hatred"
"God our Father, whose power is shown in compassion and whose justice gives hope to all your creation, strengthen with your mercy and justice all who work for peace and understanding between nations, between communities of faith, and between neighbours. May the gift of your Spirit of truth and peace be poured out especially upon the people and leaders of Pakistan, so that fear may be overcome, prejudice and hatred be taken away, and trust restored.
"We give you thanks for the witness of all who have risked their lives for reconciliation, and pray that all who live at risk because of their faith will know your presence and your blessing, and be given the courage to seek a place at the feet of Jesus. May the people of Pakistan be renewed and revived, an example of just and loving fellowship in the service of the common good; and may the suffering Church there and elsewhere put to flight all the darkness of hatred in human hearts.
All this we ask for the sake of our crucified Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave his life so that all might be reconciled to you in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Prayers as U.S. joins military action in Libya
From The Book of Common Prayer (1979)
For Peace: Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn
but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the
strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that
all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of
Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and
glory, now and for ever. Amen.
For our Enemies: O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For those in the Armed Forces of our Country: Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hot Rod Anglican: a poem to his wife
My Lenten discipline this year is ruthless dedication to dates with my wife each week. Thank you for this. It is timely and encouraging for my soul.
Hot Rod Anglican: The Figurehead
I am my true love's head, but she the neck:
The crown of Christ's authority I wear.
But she, by will or whimsy, doth direct
All motions of the crown, the head, the hair.
That God created man a quadruped,
Beloved brother Gilbert taught us well!
But which shall be the tail, and which the head?
And how to steer this monster, who can tell?
To all her wifely wisdom, I submit.
But, is such abdication not unjust?
How so, if I employ her sense and wit?
If in my love my heart doth safely trust?
May God, by Whose great wisdom we were wed,
Have mercy upon me, a figurehead.
UPDATED: Some personal connections with St. Joseph on his day
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral is a prominent landmark here in Sioux Falls.
We moved here from San Juan Capistrano, CA. That is where swallows complete their spring migration and build their nests in the walls of the old mission, arriving like clockwork every March 19th.
Most personally, St. Joseph was called by God to be a caregiver - to provide for Mary and Jesus as a plan well beyond his understanding played out. As husband and dad in a special needs family, I find comfort and inspiration in Joseph.
UPDATE: Oh, yeah, I forgot (earlier post was pre-coffee): OUR SON IS A JOSEPH!!!!!
A collection of photos from South Dakota history
A parishioner sent the link on to me - there are 66 photos from a John C. Grabill collection shot in the late 1800s.
Friday, March 18, 2011
There seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the "cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell," or "the childish and grotesque mediaeval imagery of physical fire and worms." . . .
But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not " mediaeval": it is Christ's. It is not a device of "mediaeval priestcraft" for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ's deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from "mediaeval superstition," but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . It confronts us in the oldest and least "edited" of the gospels: it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more: it bulks far larger in the teaching than one realizes, until one reads the Evangelists [gospels] through instead of picking out the most comfortable texts: one cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
It's (not) the end of the world as we know it?
"•Death rates declined for heart disease (down 3.7%), cancer (1.1%), chronic lower respiratory diseases (4.1%), stroke (4.2%), accidents (4.1%), Alzheimer's disease (4.1%), diabetes (4.1%), influenza and pneumonia (4.7%), septicemia (1.8%) and homicide (6.8%)."
With all the terrible news from Japan, the upheavals in the Middle East, our own internal polarization and melodrama, it is easy to read sweeping bad news and "signs" into it (and of course blame somebody we don't like if at all possible).
Some things are worse, some are better, all change. For Christians, a good time for sober attention to our Lord's straightforward counsel:
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains...“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." Matthew 24:3-8, 36
Deacon Pat White Horse Carda (SD) - Lenten Reflection
Suggested Readings: Psalms 50, 59, 60, Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5, Hebrews 4:1-10, John 3:16-21
"The great love of God towards the world is reflected in the Word of the Lord. We know judgment day is part of life and God has told us that believers will have eternal life. God made covenants with us. The Ten Commandments and other laws and has high expectations that we will demonstrate patience, humility, compassion, kindness and love for all. I start the day with: God, thank you for loving me and the whole world. Thank you for reaching out again and again to save me from myself. Move me, too, to love the world as you do.
Amen, Take some time, pause for a few moments now to present yourself to God and ask that you might gain some new insight into this challenge that has faced us from the beginning. Do what is true and remember, God’s greatest gift is Love, and it is all about God!"
Deacon Pat White Horse Carda
Yankton and Santee Missions
Thoughts from and about St. Patrick
"One would naturally assume that the British church, which had ordained Patrick a Bishop and sent him to Ireland, would have continued to affirm his mission... This was far from the case...
They seem to have defined two roles (only) for a bishop: administrator and chaplain... to administer the existing churches and care for faithful Christians...
...[Patrick] defended his calling in terms of the biblical mandate to evangelize the world's peoples. Patrick explained that he devoted his life to helping Irish populations be 'reborn in God' and 'redeemed from the ends of the earth,' because the Church is placed in the world 'as a light among the nations... to preach the gospel to all creation,' and to 'teach all nations' in anticipation of 'the last days' when the Lord 'will pour out his spirit over all flesh' and make peoples who were not his into 'children of the living God.'" George G. Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism (10th Anniversary ed., 2010)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
"He's in hell." "No he's not." Same mistake.
It's been generated by a popular Christian figure suggesting that if there is a hell, nobody stays in it because "Love Wins."
When someone says, "So-and-so is in hell," someone else will retort, "How do you know? Are you God?" It is a fair question. As Elizabeth I reportedly said, "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls." Judgement belongs to God - we can assert likelihoods based upon Biblical revelation, but when all is said and done we don't know everything about another person in the way that God knows them to assign their eternity.
This same reality, however, must apply should someone say, "Everybody goes to heaven." To say that is to assume the knowledge and authority of God. It is no less a mistake - and a mistake hazardous to the speaker's soul - than to go around declaring particular people damned.
Either position removes God's sovereign choice - "he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."
Fr. Ryan Hall weighs in on 'Targeted' Worship
Costly Grace: 'Targeted' Worship
"Or even in our [Anglican] tradition, when I was in Cambridge, there was a church I attended called Little St. Mary's. Copious amounts of incense, East facing altar, 1662 BCP with a lot of Sarum Rite stuff thrown in. Even Sunday I was there, it was nearly standing room only with lots of college age kids!
Why is that? I think it is because good liturgy (whether Pentacostal electric guitars or High Church Solemn High mass Anglo-catholic liturgy) invites people to experience the Divine, as if the wall in front of the altar dissolves and brief glimpse into the mysterious other of heaven is seen. I have trouble believing that an experience of the Divine in a meaningful and life changing sense can be had from the U2charist or the Hip Hop Prayerbook (remember that?) or even the Clown Mass."
Sioux Falls levee funding freed up; work starts today
High river flow is expected shortly as warming temperatures accelerate snow melt.
"Targeted" worship missing the mark?
"Regarding worship and 'relevant worship' (the eternal quest of Prayer Book Changers) let me simply say that when we try to use worship to 'reach' people, we have turned the object of worship from God to the people we are trying to reach."
Deacon Phil Snyder (Dallas, TX) on fb
I think that changes have to come, but always with the Reformation goal of putting the worship in the language (includes musical style and other issues) of the people... not to make them the focus, but so that they can fully participate. To help them become part of "common prayer," not just an audience.
But as Deacon Phil says, the decisive question is "Who we are aiming to please, God or 'the customers?'"
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
"Heavy toll" on millions of unpaid caregivers - USATODAY.com
I have two disabled/special needs family members. My day began at 5 a.m. with noise from the autistic teenager's room. I went out into the hall to find his bathroom light on, and saw clothes in a pile on the tile floor. Went to pick them up and slipped on a pool of urine - he's taken off his night time Depends and spilled the contents all over, which my 5 a.m. eyes didn't detect. So I got to start the day with a fall and a swim in piss.
Typical stuff for care givers. From the article:
"'The toll on families is devastating,' says the association's Beth Kallmyer, senior director of constituent services. 'Stress is extremely high, and one-third are experiencing depression'...
Keri Roaten, 22, of Corinth, Miss., cared for her grandmother Eavie for five years at home and now visits her regularly in a nursing home. 'I did everything from bathing her to keeping her from roaming around, to feeding her. I took care of the bills, grocery shopping — everything she had been doing. I was still in high school,' says Roaten, who also oversees all of her grandmother's medical needs. She gave up cheerleading and a college opportunity, but says she does not regret it.
Never during all of those years of medical appointments has a physician offered caregiving support resources or help for her, she adds."
Spike Lee, HBO filming as Feds weaken levees to kill poor South Dakotans
"Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha and Portland, Ore., had approved money to erect emergency berms on levees along the diversion channel ahead of feared record flooding. But a process that had been moving rapidly suddenly stalled when the money request reached the Corps headquarters in Washington...
At issue is a rule that forbids the Corps from mixing emergency funds with project funds, Cotter said. The city of Sioux Falls issued bonds in 2009 to complete the levee upgrades after years of budget delays from Congress. Officials in Washington question whether the temporary emergency upgrades would qualify as mixing of funds with the city's plan to finish permanent upgrades..."
I'm sure it is a genocidal conspiracy to weaken the levees in the neighborhoods of poor, flyover people. Watch HBO listings for a "documentary."
Monday, March 14, 2011
allAfrica.com: Sudan: 'Time to Act' - Second Church Leaders Forum Communique
"...At a time, when finally peace should prevail, we once again have to condemn and reject in strongest terms any form of violence, causing the killing, torture and mass displacement of innocent people. Being aware of the fact, that this is partly resulting from the memory of the war times, unsolved issues of the past, the deep trauma with all our people, including the leaders, and the easy availability of arms, we commit ourselves to immediately increase all our efforts to heal the Nation, to reconcile our people and to contribute to a peaceful and just Nation building. We urge our leaders to put down arms, to refrain from using violence to solve disputes, but to use peaceful and legal means instead.
We ask the international community to step up efforts in helping to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of the suffering people, but likewise we urge our governments to provide all necessary assistance. We particularly ask our governments to fulfil their duties in providing security to all people.
We are convinced, that a peaceful future for our people needs to be based on the principles of respecting the dignity of every human being, on justice, equal rights an opportunities for all people, inclusiveness, accountability and transparency..."
Remember, you can be of practical help as they seek a better future.
Anglican Communion News Service: A statement from the Archbishop of the Anglican Communion in Japan
"...We see homes devastated, whole towns that were swallowed by the tsunami, and houses that continue to burn because fire fighters are unable to reach both the properties and the people who were the victims of this catastrophe. With hearts filled with grief and helplessness we see people who are mourning their lost loved ones and others who search tirelessly for missing family members. There are so many who have lost their homes and possessions. Towns and villages were obliterated by the tsunami, everything was gone in a second...
There is particular concern for two churches: Isoyama St Peter’s Church in Fukushima Prefecture and Kamaishi Shinai Church and the kindergarten in Iwate that were close to the sea. Priests have been frantically trying to confirm that their parishioners are safe. We also know that it is not only Tohoku diocese that has been affected, some churches in Kita Kanto diocese have been reported to have been damaged also.
Sendai Christchurch (the Cathedral church) is badly damaged and yesterday, while there were still so many aftershocks, the church carried out their first Sunday after Lent service in the diocesan office...
At a Provincial level I am working to establish a structure for responding to this unprecedented natural disaster as soon as possible. This will include providing relief and sourcing volunteers and funding to help with the restoration of the affected areas. I am also trying to find more accurate information about our church family and the relief efforts, and to communicate that information as quickly as possible.
What we can do right now, however, is pray. Prayer has power. I hope and request that you pray for the people who are affected, for those who have died and for their families. Pray for the people involved with the rescue efforts, and in particular pray for Tohoku and Kita Kanto dioceses and their priests and parishioners during this time of Lent.
I am grateful for all the many prayers and messages of support from throughout the world; from the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Churches."
Sunday, March 13, 2011
"looking longingly across the divide"
...It is the difference between ministry without power, because everything is left up to us to do, leaving us anxious and exhausted, and ministry filled with joy and hope because the Lord not only lives but also reigns and acts in power for us... My argument is that the resurrection of ministry is first of all about the resurrection of Jesus' ministry."
Are ESPN hoops panel all Episcopalians?
What I am noticing is that they have different standards for different categories.
Teams that they think should not be in are judged by raw # of losses during their season.
Teams that they think belong in the tourney are judged by something called "RPI" (which might have something to do with taxes, fees and Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price or something).
In sitting through various "dialogues" and "listening processes" favored by Episcopalians (and Anglicanism's present Archbishop of Canterbury), I've experienced the same game of free-floating apples and oranges.
When one comes to the table with developed arguments, research or statistics, they are ruled out of order as not relevant to feelings and relationships.
When one comes to the table with intuition, impressions or experiences, these are ruled out of order as "personal issues," not relevant to "our common mission."
At least Dick Vitale on ESPN is funny. Most "dialogue facilitators" are bores.
Dodgers to help raise funds for Japan aid
I've just never bonded with a Midwest sports franchise. Sorry. I grew up just minutes from Dodger Stadium and passed many happy hours there. So I celebrate this gesture by the Blue.
When churches talk about "inclusion," I sigh. There are few events more diverse/inclusive/pluralistic/choose-your-word than a game at Dodger Stadium.
High flood risk along the Big Sioux River
Please pray for a slow snow melt, and for adequate flood abatement preparations.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan!"
On the first Sunday in Lent each year, Christians hear this climactic comment in Jesus' wilderness confrontation with the evil one. This year, I think I feel the barb in how Jesus addresses the devil.
"Satan" is a title. In Hebrew, it has the definite article - not just "satan" but "hasatan," THE Accuser.
Now, that's more than an evocative nickname - it was a status the devil held in a time when he had full access to the presence of God in heaven. In the beginning of the Book of Job, we read
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan [footnote points out "The"] also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
As one of my seminary professors put it, the devil seems to have been a kind of "cosmic district attorney," looking for evil on the earth and bringing charges before the cosmic judge.
But like many earthly DAs, the cosmic version assumed an entitlement to higher office. He led a rebellion against God, with the result that
...he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12)
Instead of a moral agent among the divine beings, The Accuser becomes a bitter outcast, denied access to heaven and seeking only to lure the humans he once convicted into his place of ultimate despair,
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (I Peter 5)
Jesus, who Christians know to be the earthly incarnation of the eternal Son of God, saw Satan get the boot,
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18)
So back to the confrontation in the wilderness, "Away with you, Satan!" takes on a most caustic tone. Were these the divine words spoken when the cosmic judge held the cosmic DA in contempt and booted him forever from the heavenly court?
By calling the evil one by his once exalted title (which seems to be Jesus' precise choice, since Matthew's narration simply uses "tempter" and "devil"), is Jesus goading him with a humiliating reminder of the height from which THE Accuser had fallen?
And in doing this, is Jesus not exalting the usual suspects, you and me? After all, there's Jesus, wearing our weak flesh, reminding our accuser that we can stand vindicated in the presence of God, right in the place where hasatan has lost all standing.
It is a marvelous put down, a catty conclusion to a cross examination in the case by which our Advocate will win our freedom.
Gregory the Great: the good leader "pleases and does not please"
Here are thoughts from his Book of Pastoral Rule, II.8, Demacopoulous trans.
...it is important that the spiritual director be vigilant that he is not assailed by a desire to please others, or else even though he might carefully penetrate the things of the internal life and provide for what is necessary of external concerns, he seeks the love of the laity more than he seeks the Truth [Christ]; or supported by his good works and appearing to be otherworldly, his love of self separates him from his Creator... For indeed, a servant is guilty of adulterous thoughts if he desires to please the eyes of the bride [the church] when he is sent by the groom [Christ] to offer gifts...
...[such leaders] cherish with bland flattery the souls that are slipping from their rectitude and reclining in the pleasures of the world...
...the [leader] who plans for evil behavior and yet expects others to be silent is a witness to the fact that he loves himself more than the Truth, which he does not wish to face...
...[The Apostle Paul] manifests his secret affection for us, saying: "And so I please all men in all things." And again, he says: "If I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Paul, therefore, pleases and does not please, because by desiring to please, he does not desire it for himself, but so that through him the Truth might please others.
Presiding Bp. & Bp. of Albany (NY) take part in sidewalk prayer ministry
I noticed that today's update said,
"Saturday, March 12, 2011, 9:20 - 10:30 a.m. Torre Bissell, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Bishop Bill, Neva Rae Fox, and Sue Plaske on State St."
It seemed to me that there were a higher than usual number of folks stopping at the table today, and the depth of contact included
+Prayed for God's help with his recovery and that he would stay clean. He confessed his sins to Jesus, asked for and accept forgiveness;
+"forgiveness" She confessed her sins to Jesus and asked for and acted Jesus forgiveness and asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior;
+"My wife is locked up and I want her free."
+Prayed with him that he would offer a wounded place in his heart to Jesus.
Prayer from Church of England following earthquake off Japan
O loving Creator,
bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them.
We pray for those who may be affected as the tsunami spreads across the Pacific.
May we all be aware of Your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls.
May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth.
May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged, the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again.
Through our Saviour Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us.
Prayer from Church of England following earthquake off Japan
Friday, March 11, 2011
Presiding Bishop's Statement on Japan Earthquake
[March 11, 2011] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers the following concerning the devastating earthquake in Japan
"The Episcopal Church is praying for the people of Japan, particularly Bishop John Kato, the clergy, and people of the Diocese of Tohoku in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake. We will continue to pray with Japan as she seeks the lost and begins to bury the dead. May they rest in peace, and may all those who mourn find comfort. We know the aftermath will be long and difficult, and we assure you of our solidarity. We are grateful that most other parts of the Pacific have withstood the passage of the first tsunami. May we all be reminded that we live on a fragile earth, in continual process of creation and destruction, and that we share a common responsibility for healing wherever we are able."
I appreciate and share in her appeal for prayer and cooperation by people of good will. Also her attention to the Diocese most impacted by the disaster.
I'm not sure about the moral subtext I detect - the earth itself seems formidable rather than fragile in this event, and I'm trying to decide if the last sentence means healing the human hurt or that somehow there is human agency to blame for the disaster, which makes us responsible for healing the earth's disturbed "process." I would find that a disturbing lapse into the kind of moralizing that Jesus warned against.
The absence of reference to God perhaps mirrors the essential human question in the face of tragedy, "Where is God in this?"
"thin veneers on the surface"
"The video depicts the waves of destruction in real time. Civilization and its poor trappings are no defense against such an onslaught, which can wipe out everything built up over hundreds of years within mere minutes.Read the rest at
Such waves of destruction, however, occur on longer time scales, as well..."
Anglican Curmudgeon: Tidal Waves of Destruction
Public Service Announcement
PLEASE PUT YOUR CLOCK AHEAD ONE HOUR BEFORE YOU GO TO BED THIS SATURDAY!!!!!
But the Great Litany remains, and so I offer this petition for the people of Japan,
From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and
flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.
And this from the 1928 BCP:
O GOD, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Poets, not Politicians, on New Banknotes
Political upheavals everywhere, and now this? Are people just burnt out on their
I might embrace this trend but of course it is just a slippery slope to the Lady Gaga Half Dollar or something.
"Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Rabin had been mentioned as possible candidates for the new bills, but Begin's family objected, and Rabin was felt by some to be a controversial figure."
Episcopal Same-sex ceremonies: embrace chaos to impose uniformity
What struck me on first read was the appeal to chaos in the "Liturgical Principles" on p. 2 (good luck making heads or tails of some of this):
"Recognizing the varying notions of what makes public prayer recognizably Anglican, the task group identified these qualities..."
"Options must be provided so that this action of the entire Church - this common prayer - does not degenerate into a generic rite."
So, there is lots of "variance" and there must be "options" so that "common prayer" is not "generic."
But there are some certainties beyond question, according to the "Theological Principles" on p. 1:
"...these commitments become a blessing to the wider community. Blessing covenantal relationships, including [NPA note: but not limited to] same-gender unions, thus belongs to the mission of the Church in its ongoing witness to the good news of God-in-Christ [sic] and the Christian hope of union with God."
So although we can't agree on much of anything or expect much in the way of coherent expression of our faith, we are damned sure that God-in-Christ requires everybody in the Church to provide liturgies for all "household covenantal relationships." You don't think that's uniformity? Try becoming an Episcopal deacon, priest or bishop today if you disagree with it. Try getting elected to lay office in your diocese or the national denominational stuff if you oppose this.
The Bible, needless to say, has no authority in the matter. The document comes up with an interesting replacement for the traditional Prayer Book teaching that "the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary to salvation." Now, church practices need only
"resonate with Scripture" (p. 2)
We have no common resources or understandings to which we can appeal. So where's this come from?
I think the clue is the constant capitalization of "Church" throughout the document. It can't possibly mean "the universal church" because the vast majority of Christian bodies would never affirm this document. So it means that The Episcopal Church now makes claim to the "one, true Church" moniker. Really creepy.
S_X news (NY Times)
Ross Douthat's op/ed has the sobriety that is so elusive in our crazy culture:
Why Monogamy Matters - NYTimes.com
...young Americans have been growing more sexually conservative since the late 1980s.
Why is this good news? Not, it should be emphasized, because it suggests the dawn of some sort of traditionalist utopia, where the only sex is married sex. No such society has ever existed, or ever could: not in 1950s America (where, as the feminist writer Dana Goldstein noted last week, the vast majority of men and women had sex before they married), and not even in Mormon Utah (where Brigham Young University recently suspended a star basketball player for sleeping with his girlfriend).
But there are different kinds of premarital sex. There’s sex that’s actually pre-marital, in the sense that it involves monogamous couples on a path that might lead to matrimony one day. Then there’s sex that’s casual and promiscuous, or just premature and ill considered.
This distinction is crucial to understanding what’s changed in American life since the sexual revolution. Yes, in 1950 as in 2011, most people didn’t go virgins to their marriage beds. But earlier generations of Americans waited longer to have sex, took fewer sexual partners across their lifetimes, and were more likely to see sleeping together as a way station on the road to wedlock.
And they may have been happier for it. That’s the conclusion suggested by two sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression...
Hey, Lenten Tambourine Man
"People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent." Bob Dylan, tweeted by Rick Warren
UPDATED: Please consider Lenten offerings to help South Sudan
The South Sudanese community of Sioux Falls and throughout the Diocese of South Dakota has opened our hearts and eyes in so many ways.
During Lent, please consider special offerings to help them rebuild their homeland, the world's newest nation, through education.
Offerings will go directly to the support of the village teachers in the new school in Pajut, South Sudan, and to help a South Sudanese student complete his education degree work in Kenya.
UPDATE: I just got some copies of paperwork from the Ed. student in Kenya. His name is Alier Mathew Leek, and after some education in a refugee camp he completed secondary school in Kenya. The Head Teacher of St. Leo's School describes him as "industrious, assertive, honest and repsonsible. He was an active member of science club. With such character and focus, Leek should go for nothing but the very best." He is accepted into a Bachelor of Education program through Moi Unversity, Eldoret, Kenya. His need is approximately $1,200 U.S. per year for four years.
You can use the PayPal port to the right of this page - your offerings are tax deductible and will be acknowledged through a designated fund of my parish operating account.
You can also mail offerings to
South Sudan Education
Church of the Good Shepherd
2707 W. 33rd St.
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Thanks in advance and God bless you with a holy Lent and bright Easter.
"Repentance should not be confused with penance"
Repentance, therefore, should not be confused with penance. Penance is a punishment or discipline to which we must submit in order to be worthy of receiving forgiveness. We perform actions of penance to bring about a sense of spiritual restoration. Unlike penance, repentance does not begin with an action but originates within the mind and heart. Nonetheless, repentance prompts us to action, even to the point, on occasion, of great personal sacrifice. It drives us to reverse, insofar as this is possible, the consequences of our inappropriate actions against other persons."
Larry D. Ellis
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
"The one who takes the best of the meat"
h/t State Representative The Rev. Steve Hickey & link to South Dakota Magazine
In through the out door
"He brought us out from there in order to bring us in..." Deuteronomy 6:23
God brings his people out from slavery to the world, the flesh and the devil and into new citizenship in his kingdom.
Let us pray for all Christians, everywhere, as they make the Lenten journey from whatever enslaves them to the incredible freedom announced by Christ's empty tomb.
"Save your people and bless your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them for ever." Psalm 28:11
"It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Hebrews 2:10
Monday, March 7, 2011
My Lenten Discipline
Parish ministry, the second job that provides big health coverage, our kid's autism and whatever all else keeps me busy but, more than that, exceedingly run down of late. I just don't feel like doing much of anything when I get a moment to rest.
So, my discipline is to take my wife out at least once per week. Just hasn't been happening. And it is the kind of thing that needs to happen:
"...husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself..." Ephesians 5:28-33
Because I have taken on this discipline, it is a challenge to the evil one's lingering influence in my life. So expect me to get hassled and sabotaged. So pray for me in this discipline and for it to bear good fruit in our marriage.
Costly Grace: Lenten Reflections from the Diocese of South Dakota
Daily reflections on the Bible lessons, by people around the Diocese.
A dramatic presentation: why church "dialogue" keeps ending relationships
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Carson Clark: I ♥ Anglicanism’s Global Orientation
Miniblog #58: I ♥ Anglicanism’s Global Orientation « Musings of a Hard-Lining Moderate
"I’ve only been Anglican since this past summer. Before that I spent a year seriously wrestling with God, grappling with my wife’s and my spiritual needs, assessing my culture, and exploring the tradition. Surveying the evangelicals around me, it was frustrating that so many were clearly guilty of believing, thinking, and acting more as Christian Americans than American Christians."
I'm going to miss this prayer
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
here's the traditional version,
Most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of thee, and to cast all our care on thee who carest for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which thou hast manifested to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It is placed for the 8th Sunday after the Epiphany, which doesn't happen most years. Epiphany has more Sundays when Easter (which moves about with the lunar cycle) falls late, and this year Easter is about as late as it can go.
I am trying to find the origin of this prayer. I found one site that credited it to this Oxford Professor. If it was composed by him, it obviously wasn't in the first Books of Common Prayer or the 1662 version, which is official for the Church of England.
Anybody know more? When and where did it enter liturgical use?
I'm going to miss it until we have another late Easter and 8th Sunday after Epiphany some year.
Ah ha! So that's where that Jesus kid got it...
As I read Morning Prayer today, these verses
One thing have I asked of the LORD; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life; To behold the fair beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 21:5-6)
suddenly reminded me of Jesus' answer when his followers asked for a lesson on how to pray:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
The "ask" and the "seek" are there word for word, and the Psalm's "seek him in his temple" certainly suggests knocking on the temple door.
This should should not surprise me. Jesus quoted Psalms frequently, praying from Psalm 22 in his final moments on the cross.
After his resurrection, he told his followers
"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures... (Luke 24:44)
What a joy to hear his voice in this morning's Psalms, opening my mind to better understand his way of prayer.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Feedback from a Bible Study
The current Bible overview has 8 sessions, so we started here in late Epiphany, will run it as the Lenten series, and conclude with study of the New Testament in the first weeks of Easter season.
Got a Facebook message from one of the moms who attended with her family last night:
"(Our elementary age daughter) was telling us in the parking lot that she had the best time ever and she loves her Bible. She said that she loves to be able to highlight and write in it and is very proud that it is all hers. She was reading me passages out of it and telling me how excited she is to learn more."
Because we don't have altar flowers during the solemn days of Lent, we are having folks make Sunday thank offerings and memorials toward purchasing new study Bibles for the parish kids. For at least one young lady and her family, that was a winner!
All thanks, praise and glory to God.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Worth reading: "Forgiveness" by Larry D. Ellis
Forgiveness: Unleashing a Transformational Process
I just finished this and highly recommend it for personal or group study. Pretty good fare for Lent if you are still searching!
This is a decidedly Christian book - it is not a generic discussion of forgiveness but an honest look at the full message of Jesus. As a result, Ellis does a great job of separating cultural myths and platitudes from the God-centered teaching of Jesus.
A key idea is that we learn to "agree" with God - to see things as God sees them, even when we aren't up to acting on the agreement. He is honest about the hard work that true forgiveness involves, but inspires hope in the transformative power that God makes available through forgiveness - beginning in our hearts as we confess our need for and receive God's forgiveness.
Ellis is well read Biblically and theologically, and blessedly expresses this in language clear enough for any reader.
Archbishops of Canterbury, York condemn Pakistan assassination
"This further instance of sectarian bigotry and violence will increase anxiety worldwide about the security of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan, and we urge that the government of Pakistan will do all in its power to bring to justice those guilty of such crimes and to give adequate protection to minorities."
Fargo TV coverage of sandbagging effort
A look at what it takes to reach the halfway point of Fargo's sandbag goal | WDAY | Fargo, ND
March 1 had a record 900 volunteers in action, and we filled and palleted around 130,000 sandbags.
The church as "New Israel"? Being "chosen" has its downside
A resulting problem is "supersessionism," basically the idea that the Jews are now the "un-chosen" people, having been replaced by the church. This position ignores Paul's more nuanced, humble and even pained discussion of Judaism and Christianity in Romans, but it also ignores what it means to be "chosen" by God.
One of this morning's lessons shows that "chosen people" are not exempt from judgement. In fact, they come under greater judgement when they do not glorify God in the world's eyes, when they become complacent and worldly, when they simply think that their "chosen" identity makes them better than everybody else and exempt from God's expectations:
"When you have had children and children's children, and become complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy; you will not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. The LORD will scatter you among the peoples; only a few of you will be left among the nations where the LORD will lead you. There you will serve other gods made by human hands, objects of wood and stone that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. From there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the LORD your God and heed him. Because the LORD your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them." (Deuteronomy 4:25-31)
To be "chosen" by God is to be blessed with numerous gifts to make God's love known to the world - to share God's work. It is not a "pass" to be "complacent and corrupt."
The warning that God gives through Moses in this passage is playing out in the West today, with worldly Christian traditions in decline, desperately aping the world around them in search of human approval instead of divine blessing.
But the warning also contains the promise of mercy. The covenant - for Christians, the blood of Christ - is never forgotten by God and after hardships bring us back to our (spiritual) senses, the Father waits to welcome us back.
Bp. Smith (ND) - "it is essential that we not forget the basics"
The Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota
"We recall that we, Jesus’ disciples, are to be merciful; we are to be peacemakers; we are to be reconcilers; but we are also warned that we will become victims of gossip and know hardship, estrangement and loneliness when we attempt to do these things.You might not have realized it, but that is why we worship here at Gethsemane Cathedral. This is the kind of fruit that should be growing in our lives."
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Back from Fargo Sandbagging
The Red River is running at about 16 ft, and flood stage is 18, according to a Fargo city worker with whom I was loading a pallet of sandbags today.
Fargo is aiming to prepare 3 million bags to have ready as the snow melts and raises the river, which actually flows north through the city instead of south into other rivers.
Over 70 folks from Sanford Health, Sioux Falls bussed up today, and I impressed a couple of my parishioners onto a work detail.
It was a touching day - emergency service folks, high school and college students, jail inmates, and all kinds of other people were at work. The Salvation Army served food (which I believe was funded by Subway and the Fargo employees credit union), from a trailer with the sign
"WE RESPOND TO NATURAL DISASTERS WITH ACTS OF GOD"
What was most touching was having Fargo fireman and police coming up and thanking us profusely as we left - like we do anything they should have to acknowledge.
Pray for Fargo - especially for a slow thaw of their snow and ice.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thoughts toward a Lenten discipline
“The spiritual director should not reduce his attention to the internal life because of external occupations, nor should he relinquish his care for external matters because of his anxiety for the internal life. Otherwise, he will either ruin his meditation because he is occupied by external concerns or else he will not give his neighbors what he owes to them because he has devoted himself to the inner life only.” St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule II:7
Gregory was writing for clergy, and expected them to be more complete in spiritual balance than the laity. That is, he left more room for lay people to specialize in service to God, usually in the "active" life of family and neighborly goodness, while expecting clergy to be both "contemplative" for teaching insight and "active" as role models.
The Ash Wednesday liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer 1979 has the leader call the people to disciplines both active and contemplative:
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the
observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God's holy Word.
This is worth thinking about before Lent. Am I fussing around with to much busy work, and needing to be still for prayer and study? Or is it time to get down to action and apply the things I've been reading and praying about, especially in terms of serving others' needs?
Lent is a great opportunity to rediscover the purpose and priorities God has for our lives, and to contend for them against the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil.
"We serve a Lord who has let us down twice"
Anglican blogger in Christchurch, New Zealand grapples with the big questions after the earthquake.
"How do those who name Christ as Lord and Saviour bear witness in this crisis? We serve a Lord who, on the face of it, has let us down not once but twice. The gospel in a nutshell could be described as 'the best is yet to be' but right now life has gone from bad to worse. Certainly we need to draw on our experience of lament and find new resources as one body of Christ in mission to our fellow citizens. How do we sing the Lord's song in a place of terror where over twenty people have died in our cathedral and another three people in Durham St Methodist church?
We may need to improvise in our theology. Dig deep into Scripture, mining Lamentations, Habbakuk and Revelation for words from God which address calamity and crisis. This is a time for faith like that found in Israel and on Patmos. When human sight suggested evil was present and God was absent, faith obstinately refused to let go of the idea that the God of Israel existed and remained committed to fulfilling covenant and promise."
Read it all and don't miss the picture and description of a funeral under the current conditions there.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Episcopalians & Anglicans: "Stand in the place where you live?"
I caught a comment from Texas Episcopal Deacon Phil Snyder, with whom I was blessed to have dinner when he passed through Sioux Falls awhile back. He observes how traditional Anglicans failed to unify in their dissent from the Episcopal Church's errors, and created an array of fiefdoms with no clear path to unity.
Responding to another person's suggestion that the array of dissenting groups is like the various Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in America, Phil replies,
"I don’t really have a dog in the Eastern Orthodox fight. Their overlapping jurisdictions are the result of immigration and not set policy. I wish they would organize an American Orthodox Church that encompasses all the EO communities and allows for local language/custom, but keeps the Tradition of one Bishop per area. But, as I said, I don’t have a dog in the fight and if I were to express that to some of my EO friends, they would kindly ask me to 'butt out' and to deal with my own issues within TEC and the Anglican Communion.
However, I do have a dog in the Anglican fight. There is nothing the ACNA [Anglican Church in North America, an umbrella organization for dissenting groups] constitution that references that the overlapping judicatories are anything but permanent. There is no plan that I am aware of to combine them all into one diocese per area with one bishop per area. A goal of this occurring 'some day' is not a plan. A plan has dates and milestones.
So, the EO do get a pass because that was a natural result of multiple church members immigrating to the US and taking their Churches and Customs with them. The opposite is true of ACNA. The US congregations and dioceses went looking for them [overseas Anglican Bishops] to come to the US to provide Episcopal Oversight as they [the dissenters] left TEC [The Episcopal Church]."
But TEC hardly gets a pass. Apart from the absurd departures from Christian consensus practiced by denominational insiders, there is their just plain vindictive hatred of those who disagree with them, as nicely documented in a two-part series by an outside observer:
"The Episcopal Church is not doing everything in its power to keep the property of departing parishes and dioceses simply to sell it off and pay the bills. Because if money was the primary motivation then the Episcopal Church is going about it all wrong. Millions spent each year on legal fees suing parishes and dioceses to keep said property? And refusing even to let those departing parishes to buy back the property? Indeed on one occasion selling the parish property to a Muslim group for one third what the Anglican parish would have paid?
The primary motivation has to be something like spite. Because it is costing the Episcopal Church millions of dollars each year to pursue this policy."
And then there are the ineffectuals like me, dissenting from the excesses but really doing nothing of any systemic impact. I don't for a moment see myself as some sane alternative to extremes.
A number of Episcopal/Anglican commenters, looking at this mess from their particular camps, will say something like, "Well, while I don't agree with that group's approach, I am sure there are sincere Christians in their ranks." I'm afraid that's about the best we can do for now - peek out of our blown up bunkers to see if there might be other survivors in the debris field.
Passing the Peace?
More downfalls of Christian blogging
Thanks, Costly Grace/Archer of the Forest. I was already fretting about my blogging after reading Jesus's words at Evening Prayer tonight:
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. " (Matthew 6:1)
A public service announcement from Steve Buscemi
"YOU'RE GONNA LET F***ING FOUNTAIN 'N' ME SANDBAG F***ING FARGO ALL BY OUR F***ING SELVES?"
Hey, still room on that charter bus this Tuesday, March 1st, to help prepare Fargo against anticipated spring floods. Leave a comment here, email me (address at top of the blog) or kidnap your own spouse and send me a message (lil' Fargo humor for you there) if you can put in the long day.
But get in touch ASAP if you can go - the bus leaves Sioux Falls at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Diocese of South Dakota's new outreach to at-risk Reservation youth
The Diocese of North Dakota, which also serves Standing Rock, has a successful youth ministry based on the Young Life program. Participants in that ministry are providing counsel and support for the SD initiative. A good article on the origins of that program is here; a benefit of the ND approach has been the calling forth of several Lakota clergy from the communities served.
The annual report of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Tribal Health Administration notes that the "Tribe has a high rate of suicides that is double the national average."
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Reservation includes Ziebach County, the poorest county in the United States.
The two year start-up budget for the new ministry is $342,627. The Church of All Angels in Spearfish, SD, has offered a $100,000 matching grant, and so far the Diocese has raised 30% of this. My parish's Vestry will consider support at its March meeting.
To find out more, call the Diocese at (605) 338-9751 or email office(dot)diocese(at)midconetwork(dot)com ; Donations can be sent to:
Standing Rock/Cheyenne River Youth Project
Diocese of South Dakota
500 S. Main Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814
Care to sandbag with me in Fargo on Tuesday?
If you have the inclination and availability, let me know ASAP (you need not work for Sanford but seat reservations are required).
The bus leaves at 7 a.m. on Tuesday from the Sanford Medical campus in Sioux Falls. We are scheduled to arrive in Fargo around 11 a.m., sandbag from then 'til 3 p.m. (a box lunch is provided), and get back to Sioux Falls around 7 p.m.
Please pray for Fargo - and for slow thaw in all cities that could face floods this spring.
When words don't mean what they say, how do you build credible relationships?
Just another episode in the Anglican Communion becoming a balkanized mess.
Doesn't really matter what "side" of an issue you are on. When leaders say one thing and do another, when common language is manipulated by factions, when public statements are undone by bureaucratic fiat, you have mistrust and polarization that is all but impossible to undo.
"While conservatives have not disputed the intellectual merits of Canon Mark McIntosh of the Diocese of Chicago or suffragan Bishop Linda Nicholls of Toronto, their appointment by the ACC [Anglican Consultative Council] has prompted criticism for undoing the strictures put into place by Dr. Rowan Williams [Archbishop of Canterbury] last year against the participation of members of provinces in breach of the communion’s moratoria on gay bishops and blessings...
...In his Pentecost letter of May 28, 2010, Dr. Rowan Williams stated that members of provinces that were in breach of the moratoria would no longer participate in the communion’s ecumenical dialogues.
'Provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged,' Dr. Williams wrote."
The ACC and the Archbishop of Canterbury are two of Anglicanism's four "instruments of unity." When your "instruments of unity" work at crossed purposes and don't even have a common language, what do you have?
Set aside your politics and consider the cultural insight
I honestly don't care if you skip most of it, but Kurt Schlichter's final riff on "Casablanca" really made sense to me. Here he isn't talking so much about political assumptions, but about very human ideas of what is most important and how that is conveyed on film. Yes, he's talking about "our civilization's survival" by the end of it, but the fight he's describing in this bit is not with external enemies, it's with ourselves.
[Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.]
Let’s assume there is still a director out there who would allow that many lines of dialogue in a row without a shaky camera jump cut. Even then, we’d still get Victor Laszlo as an uptight, probably Christian, creep with the unreasonable expectation that his wife not start banging another man just because she finds him sexy. Instead of sending her away, Rick would probably tell off Mr. Jesus J. Stickuphisrear, then he and Ilsa would jump on the plane together. Let other people deal with the Nazis – inconveniences like honor and duty just get in the way of validating one’s own feelings! Plus, they’d probably cast Ashton Kutcher as Rick and Katherine Heigl as Ilsa. And switch the location to Vegas. And change the Nazis into CIA agents. And make Sam into a streetwise hustler played by 50 Cent, who could also do a hip-hop version of As Time Goes By that somehow incorporates the phrase “my bitches.”
No, the fact is that sometimes your problems don’t amount to a hill of beans, that you have to make hard choices and do the right thing even where – gasp! – it might make you feel bad. Casablanca is easy to take because of great actors, a great script, and a great story, but its message is strong medicine. And, as we enter a second decade of (open) warfare for our civilization’s survival, it could not be timelier.
The sad thing is, I could see Hollywood making a crap version of "Casablanca" like the one he's making up here. Think that 1995 Demi Moore "Scarlet Letter." h/t Sarah