Saturday, March 31, 2007

Got Power?

My astute brilliance was picked up by Susan Russell today on her blog, An Inch at a Time. She is appalled at my expressed opinion that Don Armstrong should have consolidated his power base by either not hiring people who disagreed with him or firing them afterward. Well, maybe not appalled. It just affirms what she already knew, how evil, power hungry and hypocritical we conservative/reasserters are.

I'm very tired, unfortunately, having cut the hair of my three children and bathed them and put them to bed, so I'm having a pathetic time organizing my thoughts into a pithy and theologically sound reply. However, two vague thoughts have arisen in my cloudy mind.

One, power exists in the church. Surely Susan Russell should know this. She is a priest in a large parish in California. I won't brook the idea that she doesn't exercise power in her own church. AND, certainly, the goal of Integrity, as an organization, has been to lobby, consolidate, build support, indeed a power base to achieve a specific goal-the 'full inclusion' of non celibate GLBT people in all orders of the church. Part of the problem has been that the orthodox in TEC haven't, the past 50 years, played the power game. They didn't bother to go to General Convention, to be on Diocesan Commissions on Ministry, to do the boring politicking that is required to achieve political goals in the American church. Only recently have these same orthodox woken up in shock and realized how far the church has drifted from the gospel.

Which leads me to my second vague thought. That it is not about mere raw secular power, it is about authority-Kingdom Authority. The main reason to be careful about who you hire is because, if they are going to exercise ministry and authority in the church, that means they are going to have an influence on the souls of your congregation, in teaching, preaching, pastoral care. And if the person you hire doesn't faithfully adhere to the gospel, you don't want them near your people. Because teaching and preaching has eternal consequences. You're either leading people towards God in Jesus Christ, or away from him. And TEC at this point, is preaching a different Gospel, Susan Russell included. So I wouldn't hire her.

And I would be willing to put a few pennies down that she wouldn't hire me either, or Matt. Why? Because she thinks we're teaching and leading people astray. And she wouldn't want us corrupting her people. For this I don't for a minute think Ms. Russell is evil or bad. I think she's doing what she believes best. She's wrong, of course, and I pray for her. I encourage you also to do so.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

One Thing and Another

I have been on the verge of posting several times the last few days but have been constantly side tracked by 1. The Don Armstrong/Grace Church/Bishop O’Neil Mess, 2. The British soldiers taken hostage by Iran, and 3. My children’s culinary intransigence. So, I’m going to try and write about all three and see how it goes. Maybe in the reverse order.

3. We finally decided to cope with the fact that our children are becoming picky eaters. And because heaviness tends to run in my side of the family and we’re trying to be healthy and weight conscious parents we’ve opted out of the ‘finish everything on your plate every time come hell or high water’, my grandmother’s approach to food. Instead we’ve decided to stake our claim on ‘if you take it yourself you have to eat all of it come hell or high water’, in the hopes that our kiddos will learn to eat only until they are full and then stop eating, and be able to judge portion size for themselves. As a result E spent two hours in front of her dinner last night, which she served herself. It was getting late and I was exhausted, so we gave her the choice of finishing right then or eating it for breakfast. It is now 10:30am, next morning and she is sitting in front of it picking at it and crying. I hate this fight. I still bear a certain level of grudge towards my dear beloved parents (who really can do no wrong) for making me eat Ratatouille, that slimy eggplant infested stew with a gentle hit of bitterness. E is not facing anything so upsetting. She is sitting in front of delicious lightly sautéed chicken and couscous studded with peas. In general I try not to go head-on into something I know is going to lead to a stand off. But we’ve been catering too much to their every whim and desire and so it had to be done. Hope she eats it before the day is over and we can move on to the next trauma.

2. I’ve decided to pray for these hostages instead of worrying about them, a decision I haven’t been totally able to uphold. But besides the obvious horror of their being taken in the first place and the many bad ways this could end, this crisis upsets me for two other reasons. First, I’m going to be politically incorrect and primitive and say that I just cannot support women in combat military situations. And even more, can’t support women with children in the military at all. A nation and culture that sends its mothers to war in the name of equal opportunity deserves that it gets. Ours and every other one. I know simplifying a complex issue in this way probably isn’t helpful and that the military affords women and men many wonderful opportunities AND I admire the women who sign up. They are brave and they should be honored. But we shouldn’t ask them to go into situations like these. There should be other places for women to serve that won’t put them in places like Iran, especially if they have children. And Second, I’m discouraged by Britain’s luke warm response to this crisis. Others have already spoken about it more effectively. But when a nation decides not to fight back, I don’t see how long that nation/civilization will last. I will cease speaking about that of which I know not.

1. I don’t really have anything to add to the various debates going on about this matter. For those of you who are not Anglican, Don Armstrong is rector of a major church in Colorado. The bishop is accusing him of various things including tax fraud and mismanagement of funds. Armstrong claims he is innocent. The matter is further complicated by the fact that Armstrong is head of the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), a think tank that has had enormous sway in communion matters, including the present crisis. The ACI seems to be distancing themselves from Armstrong and his troubles. In the last few days Grace Church and Armstrong have left The Episcopal Church and gone under the overseas protection of CANA (church of Nigeria). It’s a complete mess. It is unclear if Armstrong is guilty or innocent. It is clear that Bishop O’Neil has handled everything very badly. I await further news.

However, the icing on the cake (this morning, for me) is that the organist of Grace Church is making the bold decision to stay in the Episcopal Church and is try to take chunks of the choir with him. This is fabulous. I can number on one finger the number of good clergy/organist relationships I’ve witnessed in the church (that would be our present one at Good Shepherd). We even role played in seminary how, as clergy we should talk to the church organist. It is the one major power center in the church that consistently vies with the rector. As an outside ignorant observer, it is a big red flag to me that the organist is there, having sway, taking people with him. That Armstrong wouldn’t have consolidated power and got rid of people who were happy to undercut him seems unwise. I’m sorry to say it, but there are power issues always at play in the church and the rector has to be aware of who has power and what they’re trying to do with it. It just seems like there are so many problems in this church. I guess it should be no surprise to find sin, even in good orthodox churches. After all, we’re all fallen, we’re all mucking in this together, we’re not always going to do the righteous and holy thing, even if we have our theology all lined up in the right order. My prayers are with Fr. Armstrong and his church and even Bishop O’Neil. I hope the truth comes to light swiftly and graciously and good wise decisions can be made to heal this broken mess.

Monday, March 26, 2007

An Interesting Tid Bit

Just found this over on the Daily Mail. Don't agree with the conclusion of the article, but the findings are interesting. Although, I'm always skepticle of these Sweedish studies. I read of two several years ago, one finding that if you put one foot in front of the other at a faster rate, you would get where you were going more quickly, and the other finding that women who give birth to boys die sooner than women who give birth to girls. I don't remember any of the details of these studies or how to find them, but I will definitly keep track of this present one. I intend to start a personal file of 'studies done in Sweden', and then maybe I'll write a fabulous book, or something.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Conversation with E

In the church kitchen while I fold bulletins.
E: Am I on time?
Me: For what?
E: For my meeting. Am I on time for my meeting?
Me: Oh yes. You’re on time.
E: You can’t hear me. I’m upstairs in a meeting…Dear Jesus, how are you?...
Ok, Mommy, my meeting is over, I’m going home.
Me: Good bye.

E at home in the evening.
E: You wanna know what I’m going to be when I blow up?
Matt: Yes?
E: I’m gonna be a doll fixer. I’m gonna fix dolls with holes.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lest you think I'm All That

So, one of the consequences of expecting a fourth baby is that I'm having to quit some of my jobs. At least until I am not fighting down this vile nausea every moment of the day. I have made the difficult and unhappy decision to put my MA program on hold indefinitly and have begun the research to find a kindergarten program that I can deal with. I look on this not as quitting, but as scaling back so as not burn out and end up doing every job badly. I am sure there is some scriptural warrent for this, but being too tired to think of it myself, I invite all of you to provide it for me. Or berate me for not being super woman.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

more soup

Well, I'm desperately thawing a large completely frozen block of cauliflower soup in a pan on high heat. Matt phoned from church and wants supper AT 4, gasp, so that he can eat something sensible before going back to church at 5 for a full evening. The children are all coming down with a cold, the cats are needy, and I'm in a shady mood, probably getting sick myself. I've wasted the day, instead of keeping house and catching up with phone calls, sitting on the couch covered in coughing children and reading about Cathy Seipp and the work of our bishops. And then, to top it off, I was distracted by the news that Elizabeth Edwards has cancer reoccurring as well. I wouldn't vote for her husband, I'm not even remotely on that side of the aisle but I grieve for their family and will add them to my prayer list. And on top of it all its gray outside and spitting warm ugly rain. So, I will lay all this aside and start toasting buns to go with soup. And gear up for the fight to make my sick children eat it. They, unfortunately, despise cauliflower soup and so will feel ill used and persecuted. Anyway, its lent. It will be good for them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Here's what you can do with your "Anglican Communion"

Getting ready for Vestry and Fretting about HOB providing us the 'clarity' we have all so longed for. Still reading various threads. Will post my thoughts when I gather my wits.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Prayers and Thoughts

As many of you know I'm an addicted reader of National Review and National Review Online. When the magazine comes in the mail I irresponsibly stop everything and read it cover to cover and part of my morning routine (and afternoon and evening) includes a long stop at NRO, particularly the Corner.

Anyway, one of my favorite writers, Cathy Seipp, is today in hospital dying of Cancer at what seems to me an impossibly young age. She leaves behind a daughter and thousands of readers and friends around the country and blogosphere. I hope you will pray for her and her daughter today, and if you have a moment, check out some of the things she's written over the past year.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Brilliant Example of American Second Rate Journalism

Even before I could choke down my first cup of tea this morning I was annoyed to find, along with Matt, that the Press and Sun has managed to do it again. This is the first and foremost reason why I wouldn't bother to shell out any of my hard earned pennies to receive this paper at home. Bill Moyer consistently and unrelentingly manages to put his spin on a crisis he knows nothing about again and again-from 2003 on. That's right. Poor struggling bigoted traditionalist churches should die as quickly as possible while righteous rights based inclusive denomination should triumph. Now, how can I write an article that will accomplish this necessary outcome.

Trouble is, Mr. Moyer, Good Shepherd isn't the one struggling. We've been growing on a nice upward tick for several years now. Meanwhile, the diocese of CNY has closed several churches, plunged themselves into a serious financial problem, continued to loose membership, and has become utterly directionless. And its not us, as we've said over and over, who are leaving. The Episcopal Church is on the chopping block here. They've got a short number of months to decide what to do. Its fine for Norreen so say, oh, we can't possibly do anything until 2009, but that decision is a Big Unequivocating No to the communion. And the communion will hear it loud and clear.

Yes, surprise, I'm angry. The issues in our church are messy enough without Mr Moyer getting in and stirring the pot. If he's going to bother to do an article, he, like, indeed, the leadership of TEC itself, should stop and discover what it is Christians actually believe, before rejecting it outright.

I will now drink my tea and recover my calm.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tired, Sick

I had several things I wanted to post about today. For example

Matt: How was your day?
A: Well, um, a man came in the door and then he went out again and he left.
Matt: Who was the man?
A: You.
Matt: Oh.

the fact that I made an enormous pot of cauliflower soup using two full heads of cauliflower, green onions, pancetta, a touch of cream, stock; PLUS fancy bread, white bread, banana muffins, biscuits and banana pancakes for breakfast this morning. OH and baby food From Scratch--carrots, pureed and pees, both of which are now in an ice tray in the fridge. Needless to say, baby did not like the carrots. Tough.

that every time I sat down Bander the cat came and sat on me and wrapped his tail around my neck.

But then, at the end of the day, just as I was trying to gear up to muscle all the children into bed I clicked on Matt's email and saw the hated news of Mark Lawrence. And I must say I am utterly deflated. I was so discouraged when KJS was elected, when GC did nothing, when Camp Allen was so soppy and on and on and on. And yet, AND YET each new horror has the power to discourage me utterly. Its one of those tings where you hope against hope that it will come out all right. And of course, as the threads spin, everyone is calling for Fr. Lawrence to be elected again. But when will enough be enough? When? How long will we stare down the broad wide road of destruction until we turn around and walk through the gate? How long? Meanwhile, I am lathering butter on banana muffins and eating my way into the parousia. Good Night.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Oh the glories of RCI. Matt received this into his inbox this morning. Absolutely made my day.

kelvine kadila
Christian Pentecostal Mission Hqters,
Rue de Triechville,
Abidjan,Ivory coast.
West Africa.

Dear ,
Permit us to inform you that after reading your address in the internet. I became interested in disclosing every thing about myself to you. I am interested in a long term business relationship with you.We are kelvine and.......................


I'm sitting here listening to the baby scream and VGR be fawned over by NPR. Thank you so much, Bishop, for everything you do. Thank you so much, Bishop, for everything you are. Thank you for your courage, Bishop. Thank you thank you thank you. Honestly. Glad the screaming baby is making it difficult to hear.

Its already afternoon, because of blighted Daylight Savings, and I am sitting in my bathrobe, on the couch, surrounded by bills and slips of paper with telephone numbers on them. There is glass everywhere because E flung a bowl on the floor this morning while trying to extract a waffel from the toaster. There is syrup lathered over everything because she then ate said waffel with syrup she'd poured herself. There is potting dirt liberally sprinkled over the carpet because, well, I don't know why. I must have been looking the other way.

Into this chaos, mayhem and filth I am happy to announce that we expect Baby Number 4. I know, I know. These kinds of things can be prevented, but not when you practice NFP, which, as we all know, doesn't work. So we're delighted, while the world, the church, and everyone else we know, laughs at us in shock and horror. This news will explain to you the lack in blogging, of late. I haven't been able to think, or stand up, or do work, or anything without fighting down some of the worst nausea to which I've ever been subject.

But I hope you will whole heartedly congratulate me. I'm having my fair share of babies, and someone else's fair share as well.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


The people who died in this horrible fire were Malian. Welcome to America. "....Soumara rushed to the building in his livery cab, arriving to see his children trapped inside but unable to help them. Five children from another family perished in the blaze while their father was visiting their homeland of Mali in western Africa.
Mousa Majassa, an official of the New York-based High Council for Malians Living Abroad, was headed back to New York after receiving the grim news that nearly half of his 11 children were dead, said council representative Bourema Niambele......Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, has a quarter of its nationals abroad and thousands have risked a sea journey to smuggle themselves into Europe.
David Robinson, who lives in the neighborhood, said the victims seemed to be a close-knit group. "The kids were always playing, either in the yard of their home or on the block with water guns and scooters."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dead Bones

Matt arrived home safely last night and very helpfully put the children to bed. And then got up with them this morning, so that I could recover some of the hundreds of hours of lost sleep.

I wasted a whole lot of it, in his absence, watching the Jesus Tomb and then part of the Ted Koppel Bit afterwards. Thought the Ted Koppel portion (don't know how to spell his name, embarrassed to say I don't even know who he is) was very good. Especially liked one scholar's characterization of the program as 'DocuPorn' (don't know how to spell that either). Koppel handled the various sides very well, I thought.

Was very disappointed that my adult ed (led by me in Matt's absence) class was not more interested in the program. I came armed with four or five articles and plenty of interesting facts in case of questions and outrage and none were forth coming. When I asked, 'well, why would it matter if we found the bones of Jesus?' I received the correctly pat answer, 'because the resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith and we would not be here without it.' Had all the wind taken out of my sales. Ended up reading the story of Gideon and arguing about whether or not it is OK to test God. It was actually delightful to see how far this group has come in faith and knowledge. Two years ago this would have been a devastating event. Now, I don't think any of them even planned to watch it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Surfacing for Air

Here is my sermon from this morning. I, as usual, intended to be on the computer all week and write lots of interesting things about my class etc. But getting Matt ready to go to Portland and then coping in his absence AND getting ready for Sunday took it out of me. I didn't have anything left over by the time I got to my computer in the evenings. Matt is coming home tomorrow so maybe we'll be able to achieve some small amount of order. As it stands now the house is a complete wreck, I have bills and papers piled high and I'm sitting flaked out with my three kiddos, watching the Pond's Big Mouth Bass for the third time today. If any of you have extra prayers left over, you could spend them on me getting through the next week.

The Narrow Door
As you know Matt is out of town for a few days. This has been one of those difficult weeks where we passed like ships in the night. I arrived home Monday after spending the night in Chicago because of bad weather, and then Matt left Thursday at 4 in the morning. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday passing jobs off to each other. After he had got on the plane I read these haunting words from today’s gospel. ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ ‘Yes’ says Jesus, or rather, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many will seek to enter and will not be able.’ ‘I don’t want to go through the narrow door’ I said later when Matt called. ‘I’m tired, I don’t have the energy to shove my fat soul through a small door’. ‘You don’t have a fat soul,’ he said. ‘Well, maybe not fat,’ I said, ‘but not particularly lean.’ So that’s what we’ve got to go through this morning—a Narrow Door. So lets see what kind of door it is and how best we may go through.

First of all, where are we? Right, on the way to Jerusalem. Jesus is taking his time wending his way there. Although he made many trips to Jerusalem in his life, at this point in the Gospel he is on his way to his passion—his trial, death and resurrection. But he is taking his time. As he goes he stops to preach, teach, heal and answer questions. Including the question we get this morning, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ The question, doubtless, is brought forth by the kind of teaching and preaching that Jesus has been dishing out to date. If you flip back through the few chapters before 13 you will notice that Jesus has been giving some clear ideas about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. As the days go by the picture gets starker. Most likely, those who are hanging around listening to him have begun to examine themselves and wonder whence they are headed. And they have reason to be worried. When the question is asked Jesus paints the bleak picture we just heard, 25When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.'

So what is this door? How do we go through?

Well, first and foremost, the Narrow Door is the door to eternal life. The door is Jesus himself. In his own body, his own flesh, Jesus is the road, the door, and the destination. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. This is true historically. Jesus is God the Son incarnate, that means, down on earth here with us in a body so that we can know who he is. And in this body he suffered death on our behalf. Before Jesus, the door to eternal life was slammed shut by our sin and rebellion. In his death, and ultimately in his resurrection the door was opened again. It is true spiritually. When you ‘seek God’s face’ as the psalmist says, and he, through the Holy Spirit, dwells in you. And you accept his sacrifice as the forgiveness of your sins. So he is the door, but he is also the destination. As you get to know Jesus, especially through Scripture and in Prayer, you become like him—his perfection is written in your heart. You are able to love like Jesus does, live like Jesus lives, pray like Jesus prays. So the door is Jesus himself, and life forever with him. And you have to go through him. There is no other way. Jesus says it clearly in the gospel. If you don’t know him and he doesn’t know you, you can stand and knock and knock but the door won’t open. Its not enough to be good, to come to church, to hope for the best, to go on various spiritual journey’s of self discovery. The Narrow Door is first and foremost Jesus. If you want to be with God and live forever, you have to go through Jesus.

Second, the Narrow Door is a disciplined Christian Life. Most of you here already know Jesus. You have the Holy Spirit in you. You are citizens of heaven. You seek God daily. You have gone through the door into eternal life. For you, and for me, the Narrow Door is the opportunity, the chance, to live an ordered disciplined life. It is narrow because discipline, surprise, is always the harder choice. It is a lot easier not to work hard, not to pray and study, not to do the things set out by God to do, or as we pray, ‘to walk in the good works prepared by God for us’. I’ve been struggling with the discipline of the Narrow Door lately. I haven’t managed to keep up with all the daily things I said I was going to do. I was going to read the bible, pray, spend some serious time on my cat box, and keep my kitchen clean, as a bare minimum. Well, if you came over to my house you would see that I’m not anywhere near my goals. Nevertheless, every morning, I have the chance to start over. Why discipline? Why order? Because in ordering and discipline, the Holy Spirit has an excellent opportunity to work in you to make you more like Christ. It’s essentially a matter of priorities. When you have things in order, God first, then your family, then your work, Not your work, then yourself, then your family, then God, when you have things in order God can really work in you to accomplish his purpose and his kingdom. So the Narrow Door is the door of discipline in daily life. Go ahead, go through it.

Third, the Narrow Door is a Door of Sacrifice. Obviously, discipline and sacrifice go together. It takes some self sacrifice to become disciplined, to maintain order. It cannot be achieved by sitting in a comfy chair eating bon bons or spending the day playing golf or video games. It requires work and giving of yourself. But very frequently, in the Christian life, we are given an extra opportunity, an extra chance to undergo and make Sacrifices, sometimes big ones. This Sacrifice is a Narrow Door. It might best be likened to being born. I don’t remember being born. Do you? That’s part of the mercy of birth, right, not remembering. I say mercy, because I’ve given birth to three babies and let me just say that its not piece of cake. Certainly I, as the one giving birth, suffered a great deal. But so did my babies. It is no easy matter being born. Its painful, it takes a long time. Mother, child, doctor, husband and God all work together to bring the child into a place he and she doesn’t want to be. And yet, obviously, being born is required for rich full life. You can’t just not be born. And in the Christian life, you won’t be able to escape Sacrifice. God, to make you fuller and richer and stronger will either take things away from you that you think you can’t live without, or he will ask you to do a job that you don’t think you can do, or to give of yourself in some way that you never imagined. The ultimate sacrifice, of course, is Jesus on the cross. The pain and suffering there were necessary in bringing about the beauty of eternal life. We get to make smaller ones. And when we do, we grow, on the other side of the door there is no Narrowness, no Leanness. On the other side of the door is wide complete unending joy.

Where ever you are, whatever is being asked of you, go through the door this morning. Let Jesus himself carry you through. Do not be afraid. Abundant life is on the other side. Amen.