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.

16 comments:

Judith L said...

All I can say is, Keep Writing. I've recently added this site to my routine daily blog stops. It is always rewarding to read your posts.

Byrd said...

My husband suggested that I come read your blog just now. I just discovered that one of the children (and I suspect the youngest, since getting the other two to touch the vacuum is a production) has managed to get one of the extension wands jammed tightly most of the way into the hose of my upright vacuum cleaner. I have tried a mallet and pliers and I think more would only damage the hose. I don't know how he did it, or that he was that strong. My husband said that it sounded like some of the things you have had happened with your children.

I enjoy your blog, even when thinking dire thoughts about my offspring.

Christie said...

I found this prayer in the Celtic Prayer Book last night during our Lenten service. It sounds as if you might need it tonight.

Prayer from Celtic Daily Prayer
3/28/07 Lenten Series

Calm me O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the turmoil within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

I will lie down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me;

I will lie down this night with Christ,
And God will like down with me;

I will lie down this night with the Spirit;
And the Spirit will lie down with me.

God and Christ and the Spirit,
Be lying down with me.

The Peace of God
Be over me to shelter me

Under me to uphold me

About me to protect me,

Behind me to direct me.


The peace of all peace
Be mine this night
In the Name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Anonymous said...

Just a bit of advice on picky eaters---I'm sure you've had plenty! With my step-daughter, first, who was an extraordinarily picky eater and then with my own two little ones, the only thing that worked was the one bite/no dessert rule. I still served everyone at mealtime, but with a menu item that was likely to be controversial, I would place a small amount and the rule was/is that they would have to take one bite. As for foods that should not be (and have not been in the past) controversial, the kids have to eat a modest portion or no dessert or treat. No arguing---it's their choice. I grew tired of dinnertime being a battle. There is also no snacking until the next mealtime if they didn't eat, so, hunger usually took care of finicky eating patterns at the next meal.

Hope this helps!

Anne Kennedy said...

Thank you all! for reading and checking back, AND for the prayer, and for the advice. We tried the couple of bites rule this evening with the toddler. Its awfully encouraging and refreshing, in the middle of a long horrendous child infested day, to log on and hear from nice rational adults. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I notice you're not praying for the organist.

The hatred among "Anglicans" for this person you don't even know reveals your entire agenda: Consolidate power, drive out opponents, steal whole parishes.

But then, you're not praying for our women soldiers either; they get special criticism from Mother Anne in Father Know Best Land. "Why, some of them even have children!"

You don't know what they're going through or why they do what they do; but they fail to conform to your scheme for perfection, so it's time to consolidate more power and drive out more opponents.

May you reap all that you sow.

Josh Thomas

polysloguy said...

I have two observations:
1) It's perfectly fine for a clergy person to lead people out of TEC but when someone in that congregation objects and trys to convience people to remain, that person is a worthy of contempt? what about the priest who's reniged on the vows he made at ordination?
2) It's obvious that you've never been a parish organist/choirmaster. If you had been, you'd have a completely different take on the debate. The parish i currently serve has a senior pastor who preaches for 50 minutes and then cuts the final verse of the closing hymn to save 30 seconds. What clergy fail to realize is that parish musicians have a vocation too and more people attend church for the liturgyand music than for the sermon.

Anne Kennedy said...

Josh-
Thank you so much for reading this blog and commenting. You are very welcome here.
How do you know the intimate details of my prayer life? Because I call for public prayer for one person and not another? You really have no way of knowing whether I am praying for the organist or not.
And as for praying for women in the military, you'd be surprised how many women I do pray for, including this british woman. You'll notice I said I admired them for their bravery and courage in volunteering. However, they shouldn't be asked to. Men, sexist that I am, should go to war. Have you volunteered?

Anne Kennedy said...

polysloguy-
you are very welcome here as well. Actually, I have both played (very badly) for our congregation and led the choir. Oh, for about a year. I still sing in the choir, now that we have a proper director, I approve all the music, I make the bulletin very accessible so people can find the music and sing it. We take our music very seriously at Good Shepherd. However, nothing, not even the music, is more important than the word of God proclaimed. And so the organist/choir director must share a vision and passion for the salvation and nurturing of the people in the congregation. If the priest, who has taken a long time preparing a message, wants to take his time preaching it, and cuts the last hymn, that is his perogative. He has the final say in worship. Certainly, if our organist was constantly miffed at my liturgical decisions, I would ask him to move on. He/she would need to be willing to work with me, and the final ok of the rector, for the order and coherence of worship. I'm not going to deal with a snotty attitude from my musician and any move to organize the choir as an subversive force in opposition to the rector. We have more important things to do in the church, than argue with the organist.

Anne Kennedy said...

ps. If you'd like a glimpse of our fabulous musician, check out the link on the front page to Micah, long may he live. He's wonderful. He's extremely talented and energetic and today the music was ethereal and amazing. Good Job Micah! Have a good week. See you on Thursday.

M. C. Yee said...

It is good to hear that you are praying for Bishop Robert O'Neill of Colorado. I am surprised that you would offer a comment that he has made a mess of the situation with Rev. Don Armstrong and Grace/St. Stephens. I presume you have done some research to inquire specifically about the situation?

I presume you are aware that if concerns about potential misconduct arise, they are not formalized into charges lightly. That charges occur do not prove guilt, of course, but if they occur, they need to be taken seriously into account.

And, of course, the charges were not placed by merely the Bishop. A forensic accounting firm was involved in reviewing the books; a church attorney reviewed the situation; the Standing Committee of the Diocese recommended unanimously to level the charges.

And, for the Vestry to meet on the same night as the Standing Committee to vote to leave TEC and to reinstate Fr. Armstrong certainly doesn't look quite right. If this smacks of a power struggle, it ought to; and, if Fr. Armstrong is innocent, he would be presumably able to make his case adequately in this modern age and this Church with its checks and balances and with resort to legal processes.

How much of this is a mess that could be personally attributed to
the Bishop?

A note: I do not work in the Diocesan Office; the Bishop's letter to the parishioners of Grace/St. Stephens has been made fairly widely available. The recounting above of events is derived from that source to be sure, but it would be shooting oneself in the foot to be untruthful about a process and a set of events applying that process as derived from canon law.

So, I suspect there would indeed be grounds for the charges, and trial, and it would be quite premature to describe the Bishop's conduct as contributing to the mess unless you have some evidence of a Machiavellian use/influence over an outside accounting firm, over an attorney to do bidding contrary to his professional standards, and an entire Diocesan Standing Committee contrary to their presumably prudent judgment and Christian conscience.

Weiwen Ng said...

re the soldiers, the Iranians do hold the cards. The soldiers are being held in an unknown location. The Brits can't launch a strike to free them. If they did, things would really blow up. If Britain acts with any sort of belligerence, they Iranians will have no incentive to free the hostages. So, the Brits have to make nice (even though it's almost certain that this was a direct attempt at provocation by Iran). Right now, trying to "fight back" would make things much worse - perhaps leading to war engulfing the whole Middle East. Besides, Jesus did tell us to turn the other cheek ... I pray a peaceful solution can be found.

and re Bishop O'Neil's charges, of course it isn't clear whether or not Armstrong is innocent or guilty. that's to be decided in church court. he should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, although the timing of his defection does not help his image.

Weiwen Ng said...

Anne,

Everyone will be glad to know that Iran has decided to release the Brit sailors as a "gift." This was clearly a megalomaniac attempt to assert power by Ahmadinejad. Perhaps cooler heads in his cabinet prevailed. Perhaps he felt his prank had run its course. Regardless, we need to pray that the sailors will actually be released safely, and that tensions between Iran, the UK, and the US, will de-escalate to the point where reasonable conversation is possible.

One of your comments has continued to disturb me: "But when a nation decides not to fight back, I don’t see how long that nation/civilization will last."

I can accept that Jesus' injunction to turn the other cheek was not made in the context of politics between two nations. It was for me an injunction for the oppressed to resist the oppressor without violence. We should not automatically assume that nations, when provoked, should make no moves to defend themselves.

However, I stand by my initial response to your "fight back" statement. A military attack, if that is what you meant, would have escalated the situation. It is also worrying that, as a Christian minister, your response is "fight back". By just war theory, military action is only permissible if other avenues are exhausted. I personally think that Christians should advocate either just war theory or pacifism, but that's just me.

It should also be noted that we have provoked Iran over the years. We installed a puppet president who acted against the best interests of his people, for one. We supported Iraq (to some degree) in the Iran-Iraq war, which was a horrible atrocity on all sides. Our hands are not clean with respect to Iran, and yet you are advocating fighting back...

Micah said...

also, polysloguy, anne would never cut the last verse. she just about chops my head off when i want to! ;-)

Susan Peterson said...

The only one of these issues I have an opinion on is kids and food. And my opinion is, put the food out, eat your own and talk to Matt and ignore whether the kids eat or not.( You can't of course, ignore if they throw it on the floor or at each other, but I know you know that.) However don't have junk food around for them to get into in between meals. They will eat enough decent food to be healthy if no issue is made of it.I never made anyone eat a food he didn't like. I never made special food for anyone. It was assumed that kids would eat kale soup and stir fries, even the ones Chris made with lots of hot sauce..and they did. But if they chose not to at one meal, no big deal. We did have fruit and peanut butter on homemade whole wheat bread as snacks usually available, so I wasn't even really relying on hunger to make them eat.

I think I may have dished out the smaller kids food and tried to give them small amounts. The older kids took their own. Usually all the food I had made was eaten anyway, if I remember right. Having nine kids makes it hard to make enough. I did make huge pots of soup and there might have been extra of that sometimes. I didn't scrape plates into the garbage though; if there was some soup or chili left over, back into the pot it went. Occasionally someone had messed up the food too much (dissolved bread in the soup, mixed everything into the mashed potatoes) that I had to feed it to the chickens or pigs. I know you don't have that option. But you seem to be worried about their pickiness (pickyness? the spell checker doesn't like either spelling. ) rather than about waste. I just think giving attention to food issues magnifies them out of all proportion, sets a momentary whim in stone (I said I didn't like broccoli yesterday so if I eat it today, I lose and she wins) and associates eating with unpleasant battles.

Only one of my kids is somewhat overweight-not really obese- in his thirties. The rest are all at their healthy weight. They all have very cosmopolitan tastes in food.

Oh, about the women soldiers. All the right people agree with you, so I suppose I am wrong. But I can't help feeling that women are brave enough to fight and being glad that some do. Of course, I don't want women with children having to leave them, so I suppose I am saying I want female soldiers to be unmarried and chaste. Practically speaking, having female soldiers probably does mean mothers leaving their children. So maybe you are right. I just never liked the idea of having to stay home and worry rather than go out there and take the risks and the pain myself. I was proud of one daughter who was in the army briefly, proud that she was strong and tough enough to get through boot camp, etc. She never had to fight, though.

You have also convinced me to try Wegmans. I had assumed it was too upscale for me.

Anne Kennedy said...

Of course, taking said position always means looking the jerk. Again, I'm very impressed with women who volunteer and join up and go. They display courage and strength and every good thing. And I don't think women should be excluded from the military at all, just from combat and especially if they have children. I don't know how you would enforce this, better people are writing about it, and have much better ideas.