Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The demands of Spiritual homelessness, burying the dead, and not looking back

Well, Thursday is the day we celebrate Ignatius of Loyola.... The three ex-Jesuits I have known have been superior scholars and men of great devotion. I'm not so keen on much of the history of the Order though....

Given our current situation, the Gospel reading for the day is powerful --what with Lambeth and the unfolding pressures upon the Communion. In this story, three persons approach Jesus:

One volunteers to follow him, and Jesus retorts saying that he must then follow him to that place of "nowhere" of homelessness.

The next person Jesus calls, but that person is too busy tending the dead. Jesus gives him a charge to proclaim the kingdom anyway.

The third person volunteers to follow but wants to go say good bye first. And Jesus says--don't look back.... Once you start down the row, don't look back.

Somehow these persons are all alive and well, this very day: the "nowhere" people in eternal search mode, wandering, uncomfortable with the demands and rigors of true spiritual homelessness; the Bishops and all those others digging graves deeper and deeper wanting to give honor to a dead past; and those who wish to hold on to relationships while called to something new.

Each one of those personas resonates with me at some level....the digging graves part not so much as the others. What really really strikes home though, is the thought of keeping a hand to the plow and not looking back.

I am not so sure what Ignatius would think of Blessed Mahalia--but I love her.

Hold on. Don't look back. Eyes forward. All your strength.
Sing it Mahalia.

Gospel for Thursday, July 31: Luke 9:57-62
As they were going along the road, someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

The Collect
Almighty God, from whom all good things come: You called Ignatius of Loyola to the service of your Divine Majesty and to find you in all things. Inspired by his example and strengthened by his companionship, may we labor without counting the cost and seek no reward other than knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

An Apology to Black Americans

How fitting this is news on the day we give thanks for the witness of Wilberforce!

By Darryl Fears
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; Page A03

The House yesterday apologized to black Americans, more than 140 years after slavery was abolished, for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" segregation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

William Wilberforce

Collect for July 30th: Let your continual mercy, O Lord, kindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

He worked to end the slave trade in England. God bless him for that. All the moral crusade stuff --well, never mind. Just strikes me the wrong way in our current context, what with him being an evangelical and all.... Sorry, it just does.

--can't help but say it --what a cutie!

A quick rant to ++Rowan...

Rowan--I am floored at what YOU SAY and what you presume.

First of all, I am a "traditional believer." But not one who believes that the Church, nor even the Anglican Communion should be static--supporting the status quo. And I am a "traditional believer" because it is patently obvious to me, in our Holy Scripture, that Jesus always called the "fringe" to spread his good news--women, tax collectors, fishermen --NOT the Temple guys like those gathered with you at Lambeth.

And Rowan, you say the "traditional believer" says this: ‘Don’t misunderstand us. We’re not looking for safety and comfort. Some of us know quite a lot about carrying the cross. But when that cross is laid on us by fellow-Christians, it’s quite a lot harder to bear. Don’t be too surprised if some of us want to be at a distance from you - or if we want to support minorities in your midst who seem to us to be suffering.

Yes, exactly... exactly. Did he HEAR himself?
And Rowan, Jesus NEVER worked from the "centre" of anything except a "fringe" crowd.

Damn it! What a farce!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Boys and Girls--Behave! Or Not...

It's Monday night, the Eve of the Feast of Mary and Martha of Bethany.

The story goes like this: Luke 10:38-42
Now as Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

Mostly, I have heard this story understood and interpreted as active (Martha) vs. contemplative (Mary), which is such a false dichotomy, as though contemplative is not active on so many levels! The conclusion being that the contemplative life is superior to the active life of service.

Other interpretations focus on the busyness of everyday life as distracting--which has been countered with books encouraging folks to find a place of prayer in laundry.

I don't think this story is about the type of work itself, nor about Martha's pissy attitude or distracted state of mind, nor about Mary's devotion. Not those things necessarily--although the story is not complete without them.

I think this story is about gender roles (and I owe this interpretation to the generation of feminist thinkers, male and female, who have gone before us in faith). Look at the girl in the image above (Velazques, 1618); she does not look so happy to find out what is expected of her....

Martha was behaving according to her gender. Mary was not. Martha wanted Mary to behave. Jesus was not interested in making Mary perform according to her gender. Nor was he interested in supporting Martha in her presuppositions.

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

Much of the hyperbreathing and venom in the Church that we are hearing so much of is really about gender roles--how we are supposed to behave as boys and girls.

I remain convinced that Our Lord is just not interested.

The Collect for the Day: O God, heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ enjoyed rest and refreshment in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany: Give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for his sake; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And, what the hey --the Roman passage is damn good too: Romans 12:9-13
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.


I'm not getting sucked in


Does any one remember off the top of their head (no looking it up!) who the Pope was that St. Francis went to see --or the name of the local Bishop of Assissi at the time?

And yet look at the impact Francis has even today, against all odds.

Does anyone remember the name of the Bishop (again, no looking it up!) who had oversight over George Herbert? Or RS Thomas?

And yet Herbert and Thomas continue to feed countless people in ministry.

Can anyone remember the name of the Bishop that Dorothy Day had to ignore in order to feed the poor in her neck of the woods?

The Bishops can muck about with Pastoral Forums, authority, power plays or whatever.

I have to go bury somebody right now.
Get on with some Kingdom work.
And pray for ROSE.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I hate war

Well, it's Sunday night.... Joel & I drove my nephew to DC right after church. Long drive --encountered a real hunker of a storm, bad traffic. Got there safe --went to the FDR Memorial at the bottom of the Mall --beyond and off to the side of the green space between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial surrounded by our national museums and other memorials.

While some of the memorials on the mall are majestic, a few have too much ballyhoo to the glory of war. But the FDR Memorial is strikingly different. It is a meditation of rigid granite, flowing water and angular but soft green growing things,

with special attention paid to those with disabilities, and dedicated to those who have little and mostly do without. All of the inscriptions in the walls are accompanied by braille. And then there is this inscription:

"I have seen war. I hate war."

I felt this place was my place, my voice on the mall in the midst of all the ballyhoo.

It was a funny sense of belonging for me, as I am usually not in sync with the sub-text of my own nation. It was a calming end to a day which felt harried and drawn and stretched --you see, I checked my email between church services.... I usually don't. But in my inbox was a response from one of my Bishops to a letter I wrote earlier this week (found below). His response was gracious, saying he would bring the pain of St. ------'s to his Bible study group, his indaba group, with him in all his conversations. And he asked for my continued prayers as this coming week would be very difficult for "the Americans."

My heart sank as I read this. My first thought was --so, all the rumor and innuendo are true.... But, then, I thought --good. I am glad my Bishop knows our pain. And it IS difficult. So, I wrote him back directly --saying I would keep him and all the Bishops in my prayers. And then said simply and pointedly --please don't abandon us.

I hate war. And I hate war in the church most of all.

It is too bad that image is not bigger. It's really gross. It is the essence of what is happening.

Pray for the Church. Pray for our Communion. Set aside for just a little while the hurt and anger and fear and all that other stuff.... Pray that the Spirit will indeed move through Lambeth. And be assured that God will redeem it all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

By the time you read this, I hope it is Sunday morning.
G'wan. Go to church. Pray for the fuddy-duddies....

Courtesy of Dave Walker at

The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the day we celebrate and remember Joachim and Anna, the Parents of Mary, the Theotokos, the Mother of God.

May God bless all parents who are made one flesh, and bring new life into the world. New life, in all its variety, takes true love --to love not for one's own benefit, but to love to the glory of God with the "other" as the apple of your eye. Here are some images of true love:

May all parents follow the example of Love, and endeavor to raise their children to receive the living God and make real the flesh and blood of Christ in our midst.

The Collect for today:
Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What are the signs of a Christian Bishop?

Lifted from Bishop Gene's blog (link in the right column):

"Upon my arrival at the Methodist church where we were meeting, I was greeted with open arms by those living with HIV. Italian, French, Caribbean, Indian and British human beings infected with a disease that knows no class or nationality, and whose treatment by an inhuman prejudice breaks my heart. But this was not a time to mourn. Pots of tea on tableclothed card tables and a table of delectable pastries gave it a party atmosphere. I was supposed to judge the "best cake" contest, but there were just too many to sample them all and no way to single out the best.
I don't know how tea with the Queen went, but I can attest that west of Buckingham Palace, there was a GREAT tea party going on!"

COMMENT: Let's see --a walk to end poverty and then tea with the Queen, or a shabby welcome at the temple of Canterbury and a party with outcasts....
There has been much discussion in our house about what is happening at Lambeth, what with the crazies making a run at power tools and a takeover of the wild, loose and overgrown garden we have called a Communion --and wanting to trim it up and make everything grow in straight lines or be tied to a trellis. If they were in charge of the garden, I think it would look like this:

Sheeeshh.... what kind of sowers and gardeners are they any way. More like grim reapers.

We (my beloved Joel and I --Witty offers sympathetic glances in agreement) have decided that the Gospel imperative is to aim for the bottom of the heap, to head directly for the scandal, the lowest place, the gutter, the weeds, to be with those thrown aside from the formal and rigid gardens.

As for me and mine, we will serve the Lord.
And I would rather find the garden with a snake in it than live in austerity and rigid control....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Servanthood is not denial of self: The Eve of the Feast of St. James the Apostle

O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The above is the Collect for the Feast of St. James the Apostle (the Greater). I sincerely pray for the leaders of the Church, that they may have true authority in the spirit of self-denying service.

While some of our Bishops were walking through London to bring attention to the suffering of the poor (but honestly, one picture I saw --it only looked as though 50 or so Bishops were participating.... no throng of 600) and to renew the commitment to the MDGs, other Bishops were grand-standing and asking for new provinces to be created that they might rule with greater and more sincere purity than those filthy Bishops of Canada and TEC in North America.

I am tired, exhausted of the rhetoric. I am sick with the grandstanding, thievery and lies. I think we all are--it has become a nonsensical theater of power struggles, lording and maneuvering played out on the backs of the people they have been called to serve and lead into true servanthood.

And true servanthood is not any part of laying down who we are, giving up, denying of self--the very persons made in the image of God. True servanthood is an employing, a gracious pouring out, a giving-sharing of who we are to the glory of God.

That kind of pouring out is not possible when that same self is demeaned, denigrated or denied.

I pray that our Bishops act. Soon. Sitting on this fence is pure hell. For everyone.

The Gospel for the Feast of St. James the Apostle is from Matthew 20:
Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Hmmm--I wonder what our Bishops will think of when they hear that....

Not one thing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus

This painitng is from Vincent Van Gogh's meditations on Thomas a Kempis's "Imitation of Christ"

The scriptures which keep surfacing for my sermon preparation this Sunday are thus:

From Romans --I don't think I could survive without these words: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And from Matthew: "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

And the readings for today as we celebrate the life of Thomas a Kempis: "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

Well dang. I guess that adds up. No moments of fantasy.... the Realm of God is hardly for the faint-hearted. Even those with feet of mud will learn to dance....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stopping the hand grenades and seeing the living Christ

Well, I was very distressed last night at the slings and arrows being hurled about at Lambeth. So this morning I wrote my Bishops a letter. And I have emailed it to them. This is my letter:

July 23, 2008

My Dear Bishops,

Please know that you and all the Bishops are in our constant prayers as you attend this Lambeth Conference.

From this side of the pond we are receiving reports of deep and broad conflict, of The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson's exclusion from a HOB meeting, the calls by 17 Provinces for his resignation, and The Rt. Rev. Iker's challenge to all American Bishops who support him to leave.

I hope and pray that much of this news is media sensationalism. Even so, it is what we are being fed from Lambeth portals; we have no other word.

I also hope and pray that you remember us in your prayers in that many of the congregation at St. ------- personally identifies with the discipleship of Bishop Robinson, and that what is happening to him is happening to many of us. We are not so much interested at this point in the politics, cultural conflict and maneuvering as we are concerned that the dehumanizing language from Bishops in the church we call home desist. I fully realize that there is not much that you can personally do to stop it; I merely hope that you will remember us, and speak and weep for us and with us in light of these words which are as brutal as any nail or spear which pierced human flesh.

Yours in Christ,

Tonight, I was encouraged to see that Bishop Jones does indeed understand the violence being done. I found this quote at Episcopal Life Online:
David Jones, suffragan bishop of Virginia, said, "We need to talk, but we're not going to solve the problems by throwing hand grenades. We need to see the living Christ in each other."

Thank you Bishop --yes indeed. Not slings and arrows but grenades. I hope my Bishops will find a way to speak out against the hand grenades. And see the living Christ in one and all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

Archbishop Rowan said yesterday:
"I do not believe that sex outside marriage is as God purposes it."

I wonder what our Holy Mary Mother of God thinks about ++Rowie's statement....

God bless all those who don't follow the pigs off the cliff

So, the Primate of theChurch in Sudan, The Right Reverend Dr. Deng, is calling for +Gene Robinson to resign, go away, leave us all alone so that the Communion will remain as one.... I quote from Episcopal Cafe:

""Gene Robinson should just go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian," said Deng. He said he could not predict the future of the Communion if Robinson did not resign."

And +Iker from Texas has said that supporters of +Gene should leave Lambeth, realizing that they are not going to get him in to the Conference, and that they are as isolated as he.

Right --sounds like scapegoating to me.
That was the really polite way of saying what I am thinking right now.

Thank God, there are many responding to ++Deng's statement. In particular, I resonate with what Louie Crew says on his natter blog:
"I appreciate the motive behind his [Deng's] strong appeal for +Gene to resign. However, it's a bit like asking Jesus not to hang out in Samaria and his followers not to have anything [to do] with Gentiles so that Judaism can remain unified."

God bless you Dr. Crew.
God bless you Bishop Robinson.
God bless all those who don't follow the pigs off the cliff.
So, last night we went to see The Dark Knight, the newest Batman saga. If you like big myth sagas, the stories of good and evil, chaos-anarchy and law-order, choice and distraction, and of course --love, writ large, go see it. It is a little predictable, but all big myth sagas are.

And poor Heath. God bless him. He was fantastic. Crazy good.

Rest in Peace.

For me, the story was ultimately about love. What we hope we will do for the sake of and because of love, and what we commonly do for lack thereof. Which is, of course, a fundamental theological reflection. And for the sake of love--in the name of love, bearing the sins of a broken world.

This is of course, such a dark movie because of love misplaced, about placing absolute love in broken vessels, a tragic unfulfilled quest for love and love betrayed. And, yes, also devotion through servanthood --the many faces of love.
So, if you like the big myth tragedies, here's one for you.

Who knew?! --Batman like Shakespeare!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blessed Doubt

A brief essay briefly exerpted at the Episcopal Cafe is on Doubt:

"Peter Steinfels has a provocative column in the New York Times that discusses the importance of doubt to our modern faith. The question he raises is this: is our doubt a transition to a life without faith? Or is modern faith simply more comfortable with doubt? While inconclusive, the data seems to point to the first option:

“Belief in God isn’t quite the same thing in 1500 and today,” writes Charles Taylor in “A Secular Age” (Harvard University Press, 2007), his formidable exploration of how the conditions of religious belief — and of unbelief, too — have changed for modern Westerners."

COMMENT: Sigh.... Such a false dichotomy. I have come to love my bouts of doubt. Doubt has proved to be the work of the Spirit in my life--to make me aware of the pitfalls of romanticism, narrowness and the darkness of deadly assurance.

Doubt is not an obstacle to faith nor the transition to un-faith, but is the doorway to a deeper and broader revelation of the eternal mystery. In the discussion of the above article, faith and belief are used synonymously. Faith, for me, is not belief.

Belief is confidence in answers to questions. I have no belief. Belief is a place of confidence and no mystery. But I have faith. Faith is a place of mystery.

Faith dwells where there are no answers, but only the opening up of vistas for which there are few words. Faith is trusting even utter devastation and death. Faith is not a state of mind, but a way of being.

Doubt is faith with an imagination that leaves belief at the door of the Sunday school classroom. Yes?

Also, Jim Naughton at the Episcopal Cafe provides this bit of news from the opening Eucharist of the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury:

"While talking to the press on the green I learned that Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and some others had not taken communion at the Eucharist. This strikes me as very poor theology. I’d take the Eucharist with a congregation full of murderers, not as an endorsement of their worth, but as an acknowledgment of my need. To willfully reject an opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ because you have theological disagreements with other members of the congregation seems an act of incredible spiritual pride. In pursuing the strategy, Venables asserts his right to pass judgment on the guest list for the Lord’s Supper, a meal at which he himself is a guest."

COMMENT: So, if +Venables is refusing communion at Canterbury, why the hell is he even at the conference? --the whole basis of being a member of the Anglican Communion resides in the idea that one takes communion with the See of Canterbury.... and here he is refusing to do so. If this is true, I'd say he had excommunicated himself. --someone ought to finish the job he has begun and kick the wad-head out.... Stupid. Stupid. Mean. Stupid.

Obviously, Venables has no doubt... and therefore perhaps a very strong belief, and little faith....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

John Adams and Weeds

Okay --so we are not keeping up with the Jones's when it comes to TV. We have a 13" TV. It is, recently, a color TV. We do not subscribe to cable nor do we have a satellite dish or whatever. We have the rabbit ears on top of this small box, and have to move them around with a hanger to wiggle in some reception.

Needless to say, we do not get HBO. Sometime last winter, HBO ran a series called "John Adams" based on the book of the same title by David McCullough.

Our PhD'er nephew brought us his copies of this series. So, while he is down in Williamsburg for the weekend, we hooked up a DVD and watched the first two episodes in the series.

So far, so good. I was delighted to see such a stately George Washington, such an irascible Ben Franklin, such a blatant John Adams, and such a sensitive and coy Thomas Jefferson. Of course the story is fairly familiar --but it is portrayed very well. Who really thinks about it, what with all the rampant and romantic patriotic fervor and bad history being taught, --that it took so many years of political maneuvering and deal making to get everyone (except New York which abstained) on board to declare Independence.... of course, no one in those circumstances knew the outcome....

The John Adams story encouraged me to reflect upon the declaration of independence which we have hopefully undertaken in the Anglican Communion. And I mean that in so many ways. When I reflect upon the state of the Church and the Gospel it is struggling to proclaim, why am I either discouraged or amazed that people are fearful? I have to remember that we do know the outcome of the story in which we are engaged--but those who choose the story of judgment and condemnation and the vanquishing of enemies are fearful.... is it that they do not really yet believe in the outcome? the Grace which is freely given? To the whole world?

And tomorrow is the Gospel of the weeds and wheat ---who, in faith, cannot believe that God does not care for the weed as much as the wheat? Who made the wheat? Who made the weed? What kind of mind is it that cannot see that in the kingdom of heaven weed and wheat stand side by side without jugdment....


Friday, July 18, 2008

News Picked up at The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe

Meanwhile back in Virginia
There appear to have been some developments in the Virginia court cases regarding the property being claimed by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Anglican District of Virginia (part of the CANA convocation associated with the Anglican Church of Nigeria.)

Two new documents have been posted the Episcopal diocesan web site. One is entitled "Motion to Intervene" and the other "Order".

Your editor of the day here at the Lead does not speak "court" very well, but is informed that one of the implications of these documents is that the Attorney General of Virginia is now a party to the case. This means that the Attorney General has the ability to appeal any rulings since he is no longer participating as a "friend of the court" siding with CANA. In other words the State of Virginia is now aligned with CANA and the Church of Nigeria against the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally there will be a hearing in August to determine whether or not the three parties can agree about what is settled as a matter of law or not.
Posted by Nicholas Knisely on July 18, 2008 2:06 PM

COMMENT: Crap. Damn. The Attorney General of VA is now a party to the case. So, now the State is suing the church. Pray for us all.

Just stuff in Jamestown

So, we piled my nephew and his girl friend and her mom into the car, and after we had made sure they had some BBQ (barbeque here --smoked shredded pork with a vinegar sauce and served with coleslaw on a bun, best with hushpuppies and beer) and took them to Jamestown.

We went to the original Jamestown, where in the last few years they have discovered the original 1607 fort--the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. For a hundred or more years they have thought the fort was lost to the River. But a man staked his professional reputation, and pursued the discovery for his entire life.... and found it, recently. Now, they have had to rewrite the history of Jamestown. And they are doing just that.

Archaeologists were out with pick and shovel, clearing away the civil war embattlements that have been so carefully preserved elsewhere.... they could get to the good stuff like this cache of arms and armor dating to about 1610 or so.... not the oldest stuff in Virginia, but definitely the stuff that paves the way to the clash of cultures and peoples that changed forever the modern world.

And around the digs I met one of my heroes --

--William Kelso, the man whose passion proved positive that the River did not own Jamestown. I asked him what I had to do to volunteer in assisting the dig--and he told me.

So, I think I just might do that. Get my hands dirty. Work in the archaeology lab cleaning, sorting and identifying. It would be really good. A change of pace.

And mostly I like to do that kind of thing because it is so, --well, incarnational. That the things of the past, a past that seems more fictional than real, suddenly becomes very real and tangible. Forgotten things unearthed, loosened from a grave of oblivion, to be seen in a new light, to help us tell new stories about ourselves and our common past. Just stuff, 'cause heaven has come and is upon us --along side us, and is made known through stuff such as this..... no other way to know God or anything else, except through stuff. 'cause we don't live in ether nor a nether world.

Just stuff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From d"Matteis to the civil war

Well, my nephew and his girlfriend arrived safely... they were tired from the red-eye flight, of course. So, one took a nap, and the other drank more coffee.

We met at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art for lunch --ate in the midst of ancients and glory. If one cranned one's neck, one could see the d'Matteis from our table. Joel and I had spent time earlier this month at the d'Matteis exhibit, and found it both moving and worth while.

Joyful humility in lightness and a presumed innocence. Look what God can do. Look what people can do....

Lunch was good too--I had fresh pineapple and chicken curry sandwhich. Delicious.

I returned to work, celebrated mid-week mass, talked to folks arriving for a 12-step group, came home, ate dinner in the back yard, listened with deep joy to the June bugs. Then after dinner we took a twilight ride out to the east side of Richmond, and drove through the civil war forts and defensive earthworks. I find this place to be a melancholy place of great beauty and sadness. These massive ramparts cut and swell through the earth, connected by trenches which zigzag, dodging a long-dead threat. Trees and vines overwhelm the bitterness of the war remnants, sweeten the landscape littered with war debris hidden softly in humus and generations of fallen leaves.

It is equally strange that small suburban homes grow among these war ruins like mushrooms.

I am not sure what our guests thought. I know what I thought.

I hate war. But see what happens to even our most courageous follies....
Look what God can do even with our war life out of death.

Family Coming to Town

My Nephew and his girl friend arrive today! They are both working on their PhD's at UCLA in history. My nephew is working on American history, Revolutionary era; his girl friend working on French medieval history... there will be LOTS of brains in this little house!!!

And I have to go make their bed! Make sure we got fixins dinner! So excited!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This gas shortage smells funny to me

In the late '90's and the first year or two of this decade, California was aggravated and then subdued by an "energy crisis." We suffered electricity shortages, brown-outs and disrupted service. Energy companies pushed emergency bills through State legislators to allow them to build electrical power houses that ignored nearly all established pollution and regulatory controls. They got what they wanted. And electrical energy was de-regulated, the oldest power company in the west was put out of business, prices soared, polluting factories were built.... and then it was discovered that it was all a set-up. Ever hear of Enron?

And now--this gas crisis....

Somehow--this current gas crisis smells the same, what with all the hype to allow off-shore drilling.... and even though the "benefits" of such drilling would not make it to the markets for a decade, the President signed whatever was necessary to allow off-shore drilling and is asking Congress to do the same....

And wasn't it Bush cronies that hyped Enron? --and the electrical crisis in California...? And, hey --isn't Bush somehow involved in oil production?

Sorry, it just keeps adding up all wrong.
And I'm NOT saying that we should not wean ourselves off of gas, for all kinds of reasons. I think the sooner the better. I am saying this all just smells familiar.

A Giles Fraser article from the Guardian, UK

Here's to you, Mr Robinson
The irony missed by Christian homophobes is that the gay US bishop is sustained by a faith you could call fundamentalist

Giles Fraser, Monday July 14, 2008

The emails have been coming in all day. My favourite begins: "Dear sodomite supporter, you are nothing but a dirty sodomite-loving ugly stain of a man who is a disgrace to humanity." It ends "Burn in hell, Mr K." Well, thank you for that, Mr K. I have had a fair number of letters and emails from people who think like you. One suggested that I ought to be executed at Tyburn. Another graphically described the details of fisting.

My crime had been to offer the Bishop of New Hampshire a pulpit to preach the word of God. I usually have the emotional hide of a rhino, but even I was upset by the unpleasantness of the reaction, hiding my hurt in a few too many vodkas at lunchtime. How on earth does Gene Robinson cope with the disgusting abuse to which he is subjected most days – the protester who interrupted his sermon in my church on Sunday being a pretty mild example? Day after day, buckets of spiritual shit are thrown at him, sometimes by fellow bishops, and he just keeps going.

Spending some time with him over the last few days, I have discovered how he does it. He is the real deal. He is a believer. Responding to attacks that he had a "homosexual agenda", he insisted: "Here and now, in St Mary's Church, Putney, I want to reveal to you the homosexual agenda. The homosexual agenda is: Jesus." He went on to preach a fiery, almost revivalist, sermon, calling on Anglicans to take Jesus into their heart and to allow Him to cast out their fear.

What makes this person so interesting is that he has lost any sense that he is able to support himself spiritually through his own effort alone. His recognition of his "failure" to cope is precisely his strength. The theology is pure Luther: only when you recognise that you are unable to make yourself acceptable to God under your own steam can you collapse back upon God as the sole source of salvation. Later in the sermon, he described going from a meeting of the US House of Bishops to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and being relieved that, at this second meeting, he could at last speak about God.

Forget what you think you know about Gene Robinson – his is Gospel Christianity of a very traditional kind. This is what Christianity looks like once it has got over its obsession with respectability.

COMMENT: I love it all --thank you Fr. Giles. But for me that last line is the clincher. Are we living the Gospel if we are not creating SCANDAL?!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Words from +Gene About the Heckler

The Right Reverend Gene says:

I was nearly overwhelmed with sadness. All I could think about was that place in his heart which must be filled with such darkness, a place that was meant to be filled with loved, but because of whatever had happened in his life, whoever he has been associating with, it was filled with hate. Someone had to TEACH him to hate like that. He didn't learn it on his own.

Comment: Blessed are you when you are hated andreviled and persecuted for my sake. Keep preaching love, +Gene.

Lifted from +Gene's blog, which you can link in the column on the right.

Ties that Bind and Exultant Liberty

As our Bishops gather for the Lambeth Conference, I have been wondering what makes our corner of the Church distinctive.... why are we Anglicans?

Part of this ruminating comes from a billboard on the way to the airport. The billboard says "Come to **** Fellowship--now meeting in two locations. Two locations, still one Church."

I thought to my self --huh. The Episcopal church should pick up that line --in this Diocese we could say "Join the biggest mega-church in the Commonwealth: 181 locations, one Church." 181 is a close enough number what with our breakaway and continuing congregations it's hard to keep might be a greater number than that.

But, unfortunately, we don't think or even act that way. The icon above of the Trinity --of the essence of hospitality and communion, might be seen as a sacrilege in many parts of our 181 locations because of the overwhelming femaleness of the parties seated at the table.... I have always been taught that we are Anglicans because of our worship, our liturgy, our Book of Common Prayer. Is that it?

I quote from Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church (Mass & O'Donnell, Abingdon Press, 1990, p.269-270):

"the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, archibishop of Canterbury, described Anglican unity as a unity of practice: "Anglican unity has most characteristically been expressed in worship, which includes four essential elements: scripture proclaimed, creed confessed, sacraments celebrated, and order maintained through an authorized episcopal ministry." The defining marks of Anglicanism, therefore, do not reside in adherence to a common system of theology or in an experience of divine favor common to each member; they are found instead, in the observation of and participation in public rites with a certain content that are conducted in a certain way."

The parish where I worship and serve the people of God--we definitely share certain content with most of our 181 or so sister parishes, but we don't conform to a "certain way." We have a fairly formal liturgy--not stuffy, but yes, with bowing and kissing of things and persons, elevations, bells, employment of all the signs and symbols --an embodiment and fully sensory experience of what we are praying. And this is more different than the same from other Episcopal parishes throughout the Commonwealth--famous for its "low" church worship. We pray and do liturgy which offers gay, straight, liberal, conservative, street people, black, white, brown, young, old, rich and poor a sanctuary--access to the altar, a place to be nourished.

So, why are we Anglicans? because of our liturgy? as different and diverse as we are? --because our Bishop gets together and shared communion with the archbishop of Canterbury? Is that it?

Perhaps that is only the beginning, but not all. That speaks only of the ties that bind....

I think we are Anglicans because we (usually) don't get mandates handed down from on high; because we fight, discuss, discern outloud--more than just our liturgies are public; because Tradition is a living, growing, changing thing as well as an inheritance; because the crucifixion above might be discussed in all its relevance to the discussion of women in Holy Orders in the Church.

And to do such takes a spirituality which is not afraid to ask questions or experience passionate difference even exultant liberty.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Yes, even if it's a church like this.... !

Believing in God is not something any of us can do alone. It's all relational.

And because it's Incarnational, real live living flesh and blood, it's not something any of us can do here, nor through this medium.

God bless you and keep you. Now, and always.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

From +Gene, From the Guardian

Face to faith
The God I know is alive and active in the church, not locked up in scripture, says Gene Robinson

The Guardian, Saturday July 12, 2008

I believe in the living God. Now, that may not seem like a surprising statement for a bishop of the church to make - but as we approach the Lambeth conference of bishops, it may be a crucial belief to reaffirm.

The debate raging in the Anglican communion over the place of women and gays in the life and ministry of the church, and the name-calling about who does and does not accept the authority of scripture, belies a much deeper question: did God stop revealing God's self with the closing of the canon of scripture at the end of the first century, or has God continued to be self-revelatory through history, and right into the present?

My conservative brothers and sisters seem to argue that God revealed everything to us in scripture. Ever since, it has simply been our difficult but straightforward task to conform ourselves to God's will revealed there and to repent when we are unable or unwilling to do so.

For me, there is something static and lifeless in such a view of God. Could it be that even the Bible is too small a box in which to enclose God?

COMMENT: Amen. Preach it Gene.

Watered Ground

When water hits the sidewalk edge early on a Saturday morning, there is a smell that hits the back of the nose.

Still fresh. Still ancient. Familiar. Comfortable. The nose remembers in deep ways. Grandmother. Father. Deep woods. Cut grass. Saturday sidewalks like beads. Ephemeral prayer. I would grasp it if I could. Carry it in my pocket. For those times.

There is certain joy. Uncertain swallow. Assurance.

Can I, if I could remember, smell the dinosaurs? Or the muck at the edge of that water where we emerged and shook off our gills and fins?

Keep this Sabbath. It is good. Says the Lord.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Art in Monte Cassino

In 1979 I was standing in the Uffizi in Florence directly in front of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" when a man approached me and started speaking French. I had been in Italy a month or two, and had a good smattering of French before I had arrived in Italy. But now Italian was soaking into my brain, and I had no room left for French....and apologized to him, in English.

He apologized to me, saying that he had presumed that I was French because of my chin..... I didn't know whether I was being flattered or not.

Long and short of it --he was an artist, and wanted me to model for him at his art studio.

Right.... but then he introduced me to his wife standing nearby and his students who were scattered about the Uffize, studying, copying, sketching. So, it all seemed on the up and up, and as I was 23 and foot-loose and fancy free, I went with them. And stayed about three weeks, in his studio in Monte Cassino.

I learned to grind fresh paint, mix it with stuff --all to his very particular recipes. And I got to see a small artsy city up close and personal.

One afternoon, I took a hike up a nearby hill. This hill.

I cut across the terraces and straight up to what I thought was a castle on top of the hill, following little paths up the slope. When I arrived at the castle, I came over the ridge and was immediately thrown to the ground by four men with machine guns. I screamed. They yelled. And told me I was under arrest. This was a monastery --no women were to approach the monastery up that hill.... at least, that is what I thought they were saying. I was terrifed, heart in my throat, the greenish-brown metal of their guns so deadly cold. And hot.

I was finally able to tell them where I had come from, speaking sideways with my face pressed to the gound--where my artist sponsor lived. They dragged me up on my feet, and threw me in the back of a small car. Went down a very windy road--I didn't know what was going to happen. We finally did go to the studio of my artist, and he affirmed to them that I was indeed living and working there. And then a very interesting thing transpired.... in order to release me, my artist was going to have to pay them $$$$.

I finally figured it out. I really had not done anything wrong. I was in the middle of a shake down.... black mail....

My artist paid for my release. Then told me the next morning that it would be better if I returned to Florence. Which I did.

Such was my experience in approaching the monastary in Monte Cassino, begun by St. Benedict.... and Friday is St. Benedict's day in our calendar......

Luke 14:27-33
Jesus said to the crowd, "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

Heavenly Father, forgive us for all the castles we build on hills and try to protect....because if a house is not built with you in mind, we have built only a fantasy. And the Gospel needs no protection. And heavenly Father, protect the monks in Monte Cassino from marauding women who climb hills alone.....forgive all who abuse power and authority, and thank you for the life and example of Benedict.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A glimpse of heaven

From Bishop Trevor Mwamba's (Bishop of Botswana) address to the Modern Churchpeople's Union:

“I dismiss the doomsday predictions of those who glimpse the breakup of the Anglican Communion at a drop of a hat. The simple reality is that the majority of African Anglicans, about 37 million of them, are frankly not bothered with the debate on sexuality. A bishop from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, told me that the people in his diocese were not in the least interested in the issue. This is just the tip of the iceberg because in my own Province of Central Africa contrary to what the renegade ex-bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, and David Virtue have said the debate on sexuality is not also an issue. We can multiply these examples across Africa."


"Let us then straight, gay, liberal, conservative, moderate, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, traditionalist, Africans and Americans, Asians, Europeans get into each other's worlds and be enriched in the discovery of our oneness in Christ and together enlarge God's kingdom of love where everybody has a seat at the table."

"Let's beware of excommunicating each other here on earth. For we shall find in heaven we are still bound together at the table of Christ's love. Archbishop Akinola sitting next to Bishop Gene Robinson for such is the kingdom of God."

Lifted from Episcopal Cafe: The Lead.....

--and I think his vision of heaven is right-on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today, Thursday, is my mom's birthday....

And it is a very saddish day for read on only if you have the stomach for sad.

My mom, Joan Bailey Hambly, died just before Christmas, 7 months ago.

Her death was precipitated by neglect and abuse from her primary caregiver. He was arrested, but not prosecuted because my older sisters decided not to press charges.

Her primary caregiver was also her son, my younger brother.

It still makes me sick to my stomach.

My journey through this convoluted grief has been intense, and supported largely by my wonderful beloved husband. And mom's death has brought my eldest sister and I together in powerful ways. We tended mom together as she died. It was holy time. I am so deeply grateful for that time.

My mom was a great woman and a great mom. She was an artist, working in fabric as well as with canvas. She used to wake me up and tell me that today was the day I was not going to school because we were going to the museum in San Francisco instead. And we would spend all day together looking at good art. She loved music --played opera full blast, country music, you name it. She loved to cook--a really great cook, and she gave brilliant parties. She was the first female chalicer at her church in northern California. She founded Home Hospice in Sonoma County. She was a nurse, graduate of UC Berkeley and nursing school in San Francisco.

This is my mom at her graduation from nursing school, 1945.

I am not done with my grief. Just not done. For so many reasons. But mostly that I was so far away and unable to extricate her from her God-awful situation. And while my eldest sister and I have grown closer, the rest of it --with the rest of my brothers and sisters (five of us) --it's all pretty much a shambles. Which adds to the grief.

I have kept a grief journal. Here are some of my entries:

I have not yet even begun to try to reconcile with my brother. I am just not yet there, because I know he will never own up to what he let happen, to what he did, --not just once but time and again, and I have to let go of that first.... and while I have catalog cards in my head that help me "know" what to do, I am still grieved enough that I could not be in the place to let my brother be in the place he is.

I am deeply grateful that in the midst of grief, I have still found joy and laughter. I have still found abiding peace. And my snarky humor is returning. Aloft.

So, I ask your prayers on this day for me and my family. And, if you find it comfortable to pray for the dead, I ask your prayers for my mom.

Happy Birthday mama. I love you and miss you.

Missiles and Easter Lilies

Woke up this morning to the news that Iran practiced shooting missles, some of which could potentially be armed with nuclear warheads and aimed at Israel. Or other places within a thousand miles--take your pick. There was a frantic edge, a danger sign flashing, red lights going in the news report--World War III gasped with the comment we are not ready.

But through the discussion with Obama on the TODAY show on NBC, someone else mentioned that Iraq has had this capability for quite a while....

I am deeply concerned at the growing hyperbole of war. Again. The cynic in me truly believes much of this is being trotted out to keep the American people afraid, and to sway the election in November.

But I also have my head above the sand, and firmly believe that the current administration has so totally screwed things up that we will be decades undoing the damage done. Politically. Environmentally. Socially.

We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Part of that work includes being grounded--doing those things which give us life and feed our souls. If we forget to do those things, we will have no life to share.

And part of that, for me, is playing with water and dirt. Growing living things. But our yard is really quite tiny--maybe 15 by 20 feet, at the very most--you know, a city yard.

This is our yard, almost all of it, with our screen tent because we have no screen porch.

Last night, eating dinner in our little city backyard, I relished the smell of an Easter lily that has finally bloomed--Imagine! An Easter lily in mid-July!! Purple, pink, white with its incredible sex-parts all hung out and waving around. I love God's imagination.

Being from the west--I cannot describe the elation and wonder and awe I feel at seeing lilies growing in yards.... not exotica, but part of a common landscape.

My first spring and summer in this house, I did not recognize all the plants and growing things. I did not know what to call them--they had no place in the catalog of my head. So I let everything grow--just grow to see what they were and what they did and what they asked of me, their caretaker.

One plant had huge plain leaves, gorgeous bright berries that stained my fingers blue. Joel called it ink-berry, and recalled childhood games of staining his skin--making tatoos, but that this plant grows wild and is nasty--that I should cut it down and out while I had the chance. I didn't listen. It was one of the few growing things.... you know what I mean? And I had nurtured this one plant --it must have been nine feet tall.

One afternoon, we had a Vestry get-together at our house, partners/spouses included. And a gentle man--who LOVES to garden (and has a garden to die for), opened the back door to go in to the backyard, and with the door only half opened, he turned around with this horrified look on his face. Margaret --he said, that's POKE WEED! You are growing a HUGE WEED in your backyard.

And so I was.

Well, this weed and I, which I have discovered is indeed a very agressive and messy plant, not one I would choose to live with--we have come to an agreement. It can grow all it wants to on the otherside of the fence, in the alley. I like the birds its clusters of berries attracts, the shape of its broad leaves, the wonder at its hollowish bamboo like stems. I do not like it over-shadowing all else. Because certainly, my July-blooming lily would not survive next to it.

But I have discovered that there is no room for it and all the other treasures which have found a home in my very small little yard.

And I know deep in the heart of this, there is a parable. Weeds. Missles. Lilies. It's all there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pre-sermon reflection and experience and confession

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

So, the parable is about the sower who goes out and scatters the seed everywhere; some seed falls on the path, on rocky soil, in the weeds, and some falls in good soil and grows and flourishes. Producing 100 fold, some sixty, some thirty.

Mostly I have heard this story and wondered what kind of soil am I --?

But yesterday, Monday, Joel and I went out for coffee and a sandwich. We met and talked with a very interesting young man; he was dressed in strange balloon type knickers, zorries (flip-flops), a t-shirt with the collar-edge removed, and a hat which was stuffed full of what was, hopefully, hair. He was an artist, he said, who was now working out of a garage in the neighborhood. But before he worked anywhere, he had to live in the place for a while, pick up on its wind, watch the sun and shadows and how they moved in this place. And most importantly, he had to talk with the rocks, to find out what kind of place it really was. Rocks were living things which spoke of the place.

These are James River Rocks, at the Falls, not far from downtown Richmond.

As he was talking, my mind was leaping from point to counterpoint. Yes, no, yes, yes. He said, that after he got to know the rocks, he would get to work on his art. Right now, he was working in clay, trying to imitate the rocks, but leave his sculpture hollow so that the local life could come reside in his creation. He was trying to make hollow rock sculptures in which life could dwell.

What was entering my mind was the Christian story --I was saying, yes, yes, life in rocks--eternal life from the womb of hollowed out rock. But I said nothing of my thoughts. But, again, I understood, strangely, what he was saying. Resonating image art.

Then this morning, I am so filled with self-doubt. I have been so trained to listen. I didn't want to be seen as a Christian, preaching, trying to convert someone in a coffee house.

But in light of this Gospel, the good news is that a sower went out and threw seed everywhere, withheld nothing, in every nook and cranny, pathway, among the rocks, on the garage roof, in the driveway... the good news is not what kind of soil we are....

The good news is that the seed is cast indiscriminantly, abundantly. Everywhere. And indeed, I have seen mighty things grow where one would think nothing could take root.

I am tempted to go back for another cuppa, and see if my hollowed-rock friend wants to know where his story took me....and thank him for his gift of conversion--of me. You can see his work:

The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Here's to Women Bishops in the ole Alma Mater!

Or something like that.
Too bad about the concessions though. We'll see how long they will be able to hold their breath.
And, since it is Chagall's birthday, we might celebrate with an image like this:

So, is the woman trying to help the man fly, or is she being unwillingly held to the earth?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What my Bishop is packing for Lambeth....

If you are concerned about The Lambeth Conference, don't worry so much. This is what my Bishop has to say:

"All over the world, bishops of the Anglican Communion are preparing for the Lambeth Conference of bishops, which will be held in Canterbury, England, from July 16-August 4. The conference is held every 10 years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. International media are focusing on the disputes among Anglicans rising from New Hampshire's gay bishop and different and often colliding theological emphases.

But on the practical level, many bishops and their spouses are trying to figure out how to pack for a long trip and what to wear, especially on July 24, when the Queen entertains the bishops and their spouses at a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The instructions for dress at the palace is "national dress (where appropriate) or day dress.


Well, he does go on to briefly mention colonialism, a very brief history of the Conference, and how the small group process might work. But he finishes the article (which is to be published in our local newspaper soon) by stating that

"Some things endure: most wives of bishops, if not in "national dress," will continue to wear fancy hats to the Queen's garden party."

This attempt at light-heartedness speaks volumes about my Bishop's heavy heart. The past few years must have been more than just a little difficult, what with the law suits for the churches in northern Virginia, and the venom which has been hurled at him personally. But I think this light-hearted sham it is a very bad sign. He remains unable, it seems, to "name the baby." --to say what is really wrong, or what we really should be doing.

So, if he can't name the baby, can I? Am I able to name what is at stake? Here, I'll try:

1) The Gospel imperative to Love one another.
2) A Biblical imagination. Not literalism.
3) The reality of ministry emanating from the Laity. (BCP p855: From the Catechism: "Q. Who are the ministers of the Church? A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons." That the laity come first is no mistake; without the Laity, there is nothing, no holy orders, nothing.)
4) The Baptismal imperative to strive for justice, peace and the dignity of every human being.
5) Local expressions of faithfulness. Autonomy.

These are the things I would hope my Bishop would pack for Lambeth. These are some of the things I hope he defends in faith.

Besides, what is "national dress" for a guy from Virginia? And if his wife is to wear a fancy hat, she better buy it in London.

Appropriately trimmed in light purple....

Pray for our Bishops. Pray for the Church.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 515 Ordination: Bishop)

Sunday Afternoon Contest

Okay. So, to what food group does the Southern Cone belong? What does it taste like? Texture? How is it served and to whom? What shall one drink to compliment it?

I am not sure of all the answers --but might I suggest it looks something like this:

Early Sunday Over Coffee Not Quite Awake Thought

The myth that peace can be bought through violence, called the myth of redemptive violence, begins with Saturday and Sunday morning cartoons. (Walter Wink, Powers That Be) We train our children early.

Once one begins to see it, it's everywhere--

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Williamsburg on the Fourth

Yesterday, on a whim, we decided to drive to Williamsburg to celebrate the Fourth of July--Williamsburg being the former capital(after Jamestown) of the Virginia colony and a hotbed of the American revolution. The traffic was horrid on the freeway, so we left that main drag to take the country back roads. Don't know why we ever bother with the freeway anyway.

On the back roads we were privileged to see families setting up for their picnics, houses tucked into the thick woods, woodchucks, deer --and all that the back roads offer. So comfortably American.

In Williamsburg we walked the main street--a street planned after the great fire of London, so it is wide to form a fire break, and long--set out purposefully to bridge the mental space between the Colonial juridical powers at one end, and the intellectual seat of power, the College of William and Mary at the other end. The colonial church, Bruton Parish is halfway inbetween, with another broad road which leads to the Governor's Palace. This is the Gov's Palace.

Now, mind you, since most folks (black and white--the overwhelming majority) lived in little dwelling places with hard-packed dirt floors that were about 600 square feet of living space, perhaps with a loft, this was truly a palace. So, this place was fitting for a Vice-Roy, --a person whose presence held the full-force of the King.

The gates emphasized this presence.

Interestingly, these same royal standards were a required presence in all the churches too.

Mr. Witty loves Williamsburg. He pities the big dogs that are hitched to the wagons and carts, and refuses to bark or even look at them. He bears with the fawning and doting people who are convinced that they are going to be his new best friend. And he puts all the squirrells in their proper places --up a tree.

Of great interest to me are the kitchens in these old places--the big houses anyway. Because of the heat and danger (chimney fires, --and the second most common cause of death among women was death by fire because they worked in such close proximity to the open hearth in garments with lots of fabric....), most of the kitchens were separate from the homes.

So, I visited the kitchen at the Governor's Palace, and they were fixing a common dinner of roast goose, lamb's head, and cinnamon chocolate-filled cake. The tourist children were fascinated by the lamb's head, as was I ---herbs stuck in the mouth and cooked whole--brains and tongue and all. The children refused to think of eating such things, but the cook told them that hotdogs contained much the same types of meat.

Needless to say, I only ate ice cream for dinner.

We listened to a speech by the Marquis de Lafeyette--in person of course. Mr. Witty became very bored with the fake French accent and the cheers whenever the Marquis said something patriotic.

We left Williamsburg before the fife and drum corp did their thing (the shrill sound of the fifes and the loud syncopation of the drums terrifies Mr. Witty) and way before the fireworks (which terrify me). Just as well, as huge storms began to sweep in and dump rain like crazy and fill the sky with lightening and thunder and wind.

I do wonder, though, what the little people who lived in the dirt-floor places thought as the plots of war unfolded. Were they convinced? Did it matter to them who was in charge? Or for whom they had to unfold their oaths of loyalty? Or who used their labor at no real benefit to themselves.... just survive, survive, survive and, God willing, a little joy to keep them going and hope that their children will survive.....

I just wonder.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Reflections on the Fourth....

"No taxation without representation."
Pah! Some excuse....

National holidays always fit uncomfortably in my mind, mostly because that is the time when to celebrate, nationally, we pull out patriotism as the equivalent of militarism...and I just can't/won't go there.

And, the knowledge of my own family history gives it an extra edge. One part of my family, the Stones --fought bravely in the American Revolution. Another part of my family, the Whitmans (the Wightmans of Rhode Island, Dutch settlers kicked out of Long Island in the 1640s by the English--not to be confused with the Whitmans of MA) actually overcame their historic animosity to the English and fought for the crown. Royalists. My ancestor Wightman, at the end of the war, fled to Nova Scotia and left behind his wife and 13 children. The State of Rhode Island seized the property (several hundred acres) and after a protracted court battle let her keep a widow's portion.... But don't feel too sorry for her; the estate had not been built because Wightman was a farmer--he was, in part, a shaker and mover of the slave trading operations based in Rhode Island.

So, rebels and royalists....which side shall I honor?

An extra edge.... Once, at my Grandmother Hambly's urging (she was a Cheever of MA), I went to a D.A.R. meeting. Dear Grandma so wanted me to join, and I was eligible. I have never been so horrified in my life (--well, a Grange meeting in NW Connecticut once gave me a similar feeling) --I sat through most of the meeting looking for escape routes, and wondering if I did make a bolt for the window, how much it would hurt to crash through the glass on my way out. Instead of a great escape, my soul retracted to somewhere in my throat, stuffing the rising words back down my gullet with the fried chicken and jello they so kindly offered. I was horrified, because there was no color--no recognition of the suffering our nation has caused/created in their patriotic pallet. Just red, white and blue.

I think our Prayers for National Life, found on page 838 of our BCP are a fairly balanced offering to God. Go read them.

And, did you know that many clergy here in Virginia suffered terribly because an oath to the crown was part of their ordination vows...? Many were perceived as Royalists because they could not find it in their hearts to break their ordination vows.... not that they were loyal to the throne at all.

And that our own historic BCP (all of 'em) held no prayers for the nation, no lectionary for the 4th of July until the 1979 version!! --so deep was the trauma.

This past fall we welcomed the Queen to Virginia, showed her the little buildings Jefferson built, showed her where we concocted our plans to throw off the shackles of government by which we were taxed and through which we had no representation.... took her around in a horse drawn carriage that was made of humble local materials. My beloved Joel worried me a bit. He really wanted to go and stand in the crowd, get the Queen's attention and offer her asylum--offer her true freedom from an oppressive government. You know, be free, like us! I mean, he was sincerely interested as she is his first cousin (sixteen times removed). I was afraid he was going to get shot, or arrested--and then maybe he might get taken to Gitmo for all else that would fly ironic from his mouth.

Ah, yes. Guantanamo Bay.... another thing to be proud of on this day.

Heavenly Father, have mercy on us. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth!


Hendrix did not think this was unorthodox. He thought it was beautiful.

Living out what we think

Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it. It is only by making our knowledge part of ourselves, through action, that we enter into the reality that is signified by our concepts.

...We are one, body and soul, and unless we live as a unity we must die. Living is not thinking. ...Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way that we are always growing, always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new.

Thus life is always new.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude p. 28

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How shall any of us respond?

So, how shall I respond to the challenges presented by the unmirthful--no, deadly advances of fundamentalism in the church? What to do in a Diocese that is focusing millions of dollars to protect property, but has had no word of grace for its faithful GLBT members, did not speak up in support of their civil rights, will not recognize their relationships?

How shall I respond? I have discovered, as I am a wild-west transplant from the left coast (California) to the right coast (Virginia), that southern manners require that I not speak loudly or at length about uncomfortable situations such as the one in which the church now finds herself; but I am also aware that I now live among once-upon-a-time rebels that twice dared to lift sword and pistol against government (1776and 1860), and the streak of self-determination is a swift and powerful current under the surface of politeness. This makes my formulation of a faithful response a giddy one at best. And so much is at stake.

I have been saying for a couple of years now that we are in another reformation. At first folks laughed or rolled their eyes. Not so much any more. And this reformation has to do with authority, again. Authority of bishops, Holy Scripture, institutions, clergy, individuals....and the relationships cultivated amongst these. But I am not a sage, nor in the position to effect nor affect the conversations and determinations which might be made. I am a priest and rector in a little urban church (390 souls) full of just-folks seeking to love and be loved. How shall I respond to them and on their behalf in our present circumstances?

And I don't believe for a minute that this whole situation out of GAFCon/FOCA will just disappear. I don't believe it will peeter out. This is a swell that has been gaining momentum for decades.

Part of me wants to go wild--go activist, as I was well taught so to do in my home-town of Berkeley California. I mean, I was weaned in a protest walk with Ceasar Chavez, my parents walking for farm-workers rights. And, of course, as in one of my favorite image of Jesus--cleansing the Temple. And perhaps part of me shall do so. Given the right circumstances.

And there is another part of me listening to the mystics; another part of me in the garden of betrayal, weeping, and knowing to let go and trust, just as my Lord did. Just let it go. Trust God.

What are the gifts we should share in the face of this fundamentalism in our own house?

How shall any of us respond?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Some thoughts on the parable ++Rowan employed

Now, I know that running a parable into all possible permutations of metaphor destroys the wide-open possibilities that parables offer us. However, I am disturbed that ++Rowan has used the parable of wheat and weeds in asking folks to stand down in the present "emission" from GAFCon. (I loved that ++KJS used that word--like the Jerusalem statement is a fart or something!) I am disturbed because it implies that he believes that someone--some "side" will eventually burn.

To employ this parable (with an agricultural mind--I did learn to drive a tractor before I learned to drive a car), --so the weeds are thrown to fire, and they burn. Great. But what happens to the wheat? --it is ground up into little bits, slapped and shaped into loaves and thrown into the oven to bread, to be eaten. Probably thrown into the same oven heated by the burning weeds.

So, weed or wheat, it's all to God's glory. Both are necessary to provide bread for the world.

And, I am just a weed all over. My name, Margaret, means "pearl of the roadside" --or wildflower. And that would be a weed indeed. And if I can catch fire and cook me some bread--well! There we are. Thanks be to God! I trust (pisteo--"believe" as in the Gospel of John) that God is doing more in all of this than any of us can ask or imagine. And will indeed redeem this whole mess.

In the meantime, I think ++KJS hit the nail on the head. The Jerusalem "emission" is about a constriction of the Gospel, power, and ultimately, we are called into relationships. The first two --to our peril; the third to our redemption and salvation. Wheat and weeds together. One not "more gooder" than the other, but in mutuality, both necessary if we are serious about providing living bread for the world.