Friday, April 30, 2010

Boomerang day

Yes. Bird poop and bird skeletons....
Yesterday.... whew. a Boomerang day.

At morning prayer (Psalm 40:11-14)
Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance; *
I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.
You are the LORD;
do not withhold your compassion from me; *
let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever,
For innumerable troubles have crowded upon me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see; *
they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; *
O LORD, make haste to help me.

Arrived for my morning meeting, and the City crew was outside the church to change the gas meter --we are switching our heating from fuel oil to natural gas --to be a little greener and a lot cheaper... It was great the City crew was there --but we have been waiting for them since February 15.... think they would call first? But, no.... and they didn't want to start the work until our contractor was there... five phone calls to the contractor--they don't remember now who they sent to do the work because it is two months we've been waiting... I told the City crew that the contractor was on the way, even though they weren't, because I didn't want the City crew to leave....

Meeting was great even if late. Exciting really..... she says --I didn't know you did all this too.

Then, the contractors start ringing the phone, the City says they are going to start the work anyway and are going to turn off the gas and if the contractors don't show up we will be without gas until the City can come back and inspect....

So, the City starts drilling into the brick wall of the church by the alley, which happens to be the wall of my office....

The most wonderfulparishadministratorevah arrives and gets the don't-worry look in his eye. So, he deals with it. ThanksbetoGod.

Then the parishioners arrive to set up the book store.
Then the maintenance company arrives to care for the air conditioner.
Then the gas-oil conversion contractor arrives.
Then I have to run a mission of mercy.
Then back to church.
Then I review the Sunday bulletin and the weekly email. I hope there is nothing left out.... but I can't think straight...
Then another contractor arrives --I climb up in the tower, to the point where the bird poop and bird skeletons become distracting. To talk about the rot in the balustrade...

Yes, we are six miles up in the air.
Then I hold the flashlight for the air conditioner maintenance guy while the balustrade guy goes further up the tower.
Then a parishioner arrives unexpectedly. Pastoral meeting. I wash the bird poop off my hands first. Worry about the soles of my shoes.... but only for a minute...
....and then as a result of the meeting, head directly to the hospital....

When I got home, my guys had been cleaning the house. Mercy abounds.
And then they walked me to the Grand Opening of the Virginia Museum of Art. OMG!

Beauty abounds.


Hey God. It's margaret here. Listen up. I hear the cry and moan of your creation from the Gulf. Help us wean ourselves from our own destruction with which we wantonly play... protect and guard those who suffer --you know who I mean. Sorry about the birds in the tower --I didn't know. Yes, we must keep those trap doors closed absolutely. Protect our children today. Help us be good stewards of all that we have. And, now I am off to practice for my run next week-- even as I practice I pray for H, D, M, L, G, for those who now dwell in you, and all those who will have the shock of a diagnosis today. And I run so that the expert care I received will look like stone-age medicine, and so that care will be available to all. There's more --the colors and all those other thoughts that move like waves... Amen. Oh --and hey God... Thank you. Even for the boomerang days.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


As you might imagine, the immigration talk in my home is particularly poignant.... especially in light of trying to build self-esteem while at the same time trying to impress the dangers.... a very difficult task. Brown is beautiful--so beautiful, I say. But be careful, to be brown puts you at risk, I say.

Sigh.... oh the sin....

So, I was horrified in so many ways to read a letter circulated in the HoB/D which pointed to this article with regard to the recent legislation in Arizona. This article claims to make all of this a partisan issue --a big fight between Democrats and Republicans.

The author, Palast, says, What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

He goes on to demonstrate how new-age Jim Crow tactics have prevented American citizens of Hispanic descent from exercising their voting privileges by purging voter rolls. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

When I first came to Richmond, I registered to vote when I got my license--which is a whole other story of grief--it is difficult to obtain a license in Virginia because it is the DMV where the 9/11 terrorists obtained their documentation..... Anyway, when I went to vote, I was denied the privilege, --no, my right, and had to vote by a special ballot and then report down town the next morning to ask my vote to count.... Same thing happened the next voting cycle. I was pissed and raised a stink.... I now vote without a hitch. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn't have the privilege of determining my own work schedule.... --and if I weren't white... and all those other hallmarks of privilege.

...which reminds me of the six times I tried to get a license in California --finally had to go with my passport and birth certificate.... despite the fact that I could rattle off by memory the license number issued to me in the 1970s....

So, yes, I can believe the tactics.... the motives? --are they partisan or racist? Or, both and more?

According to a study by prof. Matt Barreto, of Washington State University, minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have the government ID. The numbers are dreadfully worse when income is factored in.

Ummmmmmm.... yes. Poverty... and homelessness. We had to work for three months and involve four churches and two federal offices as well as state officials to obtain proof of identity for a homeless man who had been worshiping at the congregation I serve for thirty years...

And, it's all legal....

What to do? If legal documents become required on your person at all times--don't carry them. Join those who have nothing. If proof of citizenship is required to give medical aid or a glass of water or food to someone --give them to anyone who asks.

And I am reminded of my California history --when I speak of it here, people continue to be surprised that we have cathedrals built in the 1770s... that towns have Russian names... that ports were established because of trade with China in the early 1800s.... because California was not settled nor later colonized by people from the east coast of this continent --manifest destiny and westward expansion are a myth. California was settled from the north and colonized from the south and north...

Yes, I am, and those like me, are the extranjeros....

It is our Christian duty not to draw lines around who is in and who is out, who is welcome and who is not. It is a Christian discipline to care, and act in abundance, because all things we have, are not ours, but are from the One who made all things and holds all things in being.

And, yes, my faith informs my politics, not the other way around.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Catherine of Sienna (Luke 12:22-24,29-31) Jesus said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."

I grieve and hold in prayer the continued rape of the Gulf --what with oil spills and ill-advised burn-offs.

I pray for all the brown-skinned beauties in the congregation I serve. If one hair on their heads is harmed or violated, I will be worse than an angry mother bear.

I pray that the congregation I serve will act with abundance... I have been holding that in prayer a lot recently. Even while we raised $3,150 to give away to the local Red Cross endeavors over the weekend, and $1,100 at a spaghetti dinner Tuesday--for our local free clinic... some are afraid.

And I give thanks to God for the generosity from you all for my participation in the Race for the Cure. If you have names you wish to be remembered while I run my buns around, please let me know. And you all rock--- but even though I have met my modest goal, more contributions will save lives. So, thank you. Thank you.

Thank you and bless you for thinking abundantly.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eighth day of creation

At morning prayer (Matthew 5:17-20) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Who wants to be righteous like a scribe or a Pharisee, anyway? This is really funny, because Jesus broke the law all the time.... touching women, touching the dead, touching the sick, eating with sinners, gathering food on the Sabbath.... He didn't fulfill the law by keeping it... he fulfilled the law by being one with the Creator.

And we walk his Way. Which is why none of us keeps the Sabbath, or any of the rest of the law --he did fulfill--he accomplished it, the law, all of it, and it is now complete, and we live on this side of the eighth day of creation. Which is why some baptismal fonts are 8-sided.... a silent sign that we enter a new creation, heaven and earth have passed away....

A new creation. New commandments.... not the law. Interesting that this is said within the context of the Beatitudes.

I am praying for the health and well-being of the Gulf in the midst of this growing oil spill.

I am praying for the citizens of Arizona. I am praying for all those who live in the underground world in our midst. Our 'way' of life depends upon them.... I am praying for all those who are admitted to work legally only to be abused by American corporations, doing marginal, dangerous work and housed like animals. All for the sake of the almighty buck....

I despise the capitalists giving 'testimony' in DC --selling crap and then betting it will fail... and making money at it. I despise all those who are resisting reforms in this arena.

I am praying for all those who suffer because of the structures of power, and the systems of abuse.

And I pray for K, J, J, M, M, B, A, Y... and give thanks for all those who came to the spaghetti dinner last night to raise $$$ for our local free clinic.

And, should I dye my hair pink whether or not our team running in the Race for the Cure makes its goal? Yah.... why not. The dye didn't take last year --so this would just make up for last year... right? And, then I would have the excuse to dye my hair red at Pentecost.... celebrating the 50th day of the new creation.... and, if you feel so moved, I have been totally unsuccessful in meeting my goal for this race....

A sign that God is good --Easter is longer than Lent.... I am counting on that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

O God.... laced with the finest cuss words I can conjure. We just shouldn't endure it any more

At morning prayer (Psalm 45)

1 My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; *
my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
11 "Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely; *
forget your people and your father's house.
12 The king will have pleasure in your beauty; *
he is your master; therefore do him honor.

Smack. Uhggg. Women--submit. Dang. Whupped in the face by scripture before coffee.

(Exodus 32:26-29) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Who is on the LORD's side? Come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. He said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.'"

The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. Moses said, "Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day."

Holy crap. Literally. Brutal violence, murder condoned. In the service of the LORD. Geeeez. (And, hey HoB/D --in light of scripture like this, one is NOT supposed to have a visceral reaction to the word, LORD? Have you read scripture lately?! --just because it is the Tradition to refer to G*d as LORD, we are to continue to use language and imagery in liturgy that in association perpetuates the idea of violence and subjection? What are we perpetuating? Reinforcing? Please do think again....)

(Matthew 5:11-12)Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Glorification of persecution.... I give up.

What confusing spiritual crap first thing in the morning.... and yah yah yah... don't lecture me about suffering and submission, the way of the world and what it all really means.

Just give me some good Womanist or Liberation theology....

Yesterday, doing some work on another project on domestic violence, I was reading an essay by Jon Sobrino in Archbishop Oscar Romero; Voice of the Voiceless. The note I made was: "Oppression, degradation and violence are not the fruit of love. They are the result of misplaced or manipulated power and the structures of control."


That work also took me to places like this, wherein
assumptions of male authority are a given.

Or, Bible studies like this --the study notes read: 1 Samuel 25 teaches us about Abigail, a woman married to an abusive husband. Her story is only one chapter long, yet it says much about the struggle of women facing abuse at home. It can help women today to understand how to protect family and loved ones from abuse while maintaining godly submission.

Yes, yes, I know --but the Bible study buries its statements of equality and liberty... --hidden gifts that are lost in the predication of submission.... to a male god figurehead.

And it goes on, even with a survivor who has claimed her dignity, but refers to herself as God's 'little girl.' She does conclude a portion of her responses with this: Most of the time they [husbands] have been raised to disrespect women by things that their father or grandfathers have said or done to the women in their own family. It is part of the character of the man and he has to be totally healed by God and this won't come probably until after Jesus returns.


Why am I going on and on about this? Because I have been searching for what's 'out there' for a faithful response to domestic violence and degradation --and it's pretty awful.

Here is a taste of what and why I am working on it: (I have changed the names--and yes, the parties involved have asked me to write this in order to share it. And do not lift, copy or post without permission.)

“There has been a gun accident. Julie and John have both been shot. Julie gave the ambulance guys your number. They asked me to call you. She and John have been taken to the hospital.” The voice on the phone wavered. Then cracked. Then silence. I wondered which part of what she had said was not true--not that she was lying, but that the truth was unbearable. Unspeakable.

I remember seeing my hands as I reached for a piece of scrap paper and pencil. They weren’t shaking or groping, which was a surprise to me, because my heart was racing and my mind seemed a dark stage, waiting for the light to reveal the next obvious move. And there was no light. No script to give me the next line, no help for me to know what to do.

“What hospital were they taken to?” “Are you safe?” “Where are the kids?” I asked, stringing the questions together like beads, without order or clarity of their magnitude and size. I scribbled on the back of an envelope, connecting names and addresses and phone and cell numbers with scrawled lines like a map of unknown unexplored geography. Guesses of whereabouts.

I hung up the phone. My soul finally caught its breath and began an interior mantra of ‘O God. O God. O God.’ laced with the finest cuss words I could conjure.

O God. The children. Yes. Start there....

As I got dressed to face this --my black pants, black shoes, black socks, black shirt, black sweater, white collar, I hurriedly made calls to divvy out the rest of day to others. I know at one point I screamed ‘shut up!’ at the priest I work with because he kept saying, ‘this just doesn’t make sense.’ I know.

It made no sense as the police officer shuffled in the trunk of his car in front of their house, refusing to tell me a thing but his eyes telling me with a dull haunted look to prepare for a funeral. It made no sense as the children told me what they had seen. It made no sense as the nurse pulled me aside in the hallway in the ER, asking if I were prepared to see John. “It was a gun wound to the head; we think it was self-inflicted--a through and through, which means in one side and out the other,” she said. It made no sense as I anointed John --worried what might happen with the baffles of skin as I made the sign of the cross on his shattered forehead, bulging eye lids, more tongue than mouth, and then thankfully, his hands, feet and heart. It made no sense as he died and the doctors scurried about with the machines, declaring death authoritatively using an official clock and moving like awkward cuckoos on springs thrust in to the middle of the room. It made no sense as I wondered if Julie were going to survive the night. It made no sense as I worked with aunts and uncles and friends to take immediate measures for the care of the children. It made no sense when, close to midnight, the physician let me in the ICU and told me in the hall in front of her room, “It’s a miracle she’s alive. I am guardedly optimistic because she is still here.”

It made no sense as I leaned over Julie to pray in the beeping thinly tubular light of the ICU, and she grasped my hand at the sound of my voice, holding tightly, and the only prayer I could whisper in her ear was, “Your children are alive and safe.” It was enough.

And then I wept.

And the only bible studies I can find perpetuate submission and male authority.

Oh yes. I have work to do.
Off I go.

Hey God. It's margaret here. Yah. O God, laced with the finest cuss words I can conjure. We just shouldn't endure it any more. And thank you for making me six feet tall and the liberty to cut my hair short. You know the rest. Amen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

the draft covenant and the wildness of love. love wins.

(Colossians 3:18-4:2) Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.

Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.

Okay. There it is. The construction of hierarchy and subjection. Some will say--oh, no, no --it is okay because husbands and masters are told how to behave too.... all in relationship, and that was radical.

See which paragraph is the longest--the one convincing slaves to be happily enslaved.

Well, ummmmm.... bullpucky. Back when, I entered all the data of the census records of Delaware in 1820 in to a database. Cows, horses, mules, children, farming equipment, poll taxes.... looking for patterns.... Then all the probate records too....

What is really important in data stuff like this is not just to look at what is there, but what isn't there.

In that same kind of thought track, it is important to keep in mind that the above was written because the opposite was happening. Laws don't emerge because people think of a good way to live --they emerge because people see, know and experience something and then try to regulate it....

So, you can bet your booty that wives were not being 'subject' to their husbands; husbands were not loving their wives and were instead treating them harshly; children, slaves, masters were not ---yadda yadda.

If that letter were going to be written today, trying to get everyone get along in Christian relationship to each other, what would it look--sound--be like?

Frankly, I think it would look rather like the proposed so-called Covenant. Yeppa. Same impulse. Same proposed results. Submission. Regulation. A few in control deciding what is appropriate and what is not.

All of it having to do with maintaining good order, systemic grease to the machinations of social control.

Love has nothing to do with any of that. And love is our goal.

And sometimes love does not submit, no matter what. Sometimes love protests. Sometimes love confronts. Sometimes love is absolutely silent. Sometimes love is not patient. Love does not know good order.

Which means, I guess, love is a wild child.

If you want good order, a well greased system--look to the regulations above. Like water in a glass.

If you want love, hold on and let go all at once.... --a strange spill of discipline --of constant fluidity to avoid stagnation or evaporation... but don't worry. Love itself knows no end and has no limits, and where there is love, there is always more love. Uncontained. Uncontainable. Holding all things.

Hey God, it's margaret here. I know you didn't write the laws about love, because there are no laws about love --only constant revelation in living flesh and blood, your only begotten child, our own salvation. Help us know love more completely --when to speak, when not to speak and all that stuff. Help us shrug off those systems of subjection we build --the ones we fall prey to believing that they are the good order of your cosmos. Help us discern the difference between gravity and oppression. And in your good time, help us see that you have lifted us from the muck of good order to participate in the divine chaos. Well, it looks like chaos to us because, after all, you also hold earthquakes and volcanoes in being, and they just throw our order out the proverbial window. Right up there with death --which we try so hard to define and regulate and make orderly. I remember before you K, M, J, J, B, P, and S. I give to you all my orderly expectations. And, yah, I know, my love can be fierce. Help me with unrelenting compassion. There we are.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Our Patronal feast! (Mark 1:14) And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. ...and rumor has it, he had quite a good time --partied it right up! What with all them wild beasts....

G'wan. Go to church --even if it isn't your patronal feast, I am sure church will be good --I mean, it's Easter!! Party time!

Set your mind on things above

At morning prayer (Colossians 3:1-4) So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.


But, today, I am off to work a yardsale, full of very earthly treasures-- gonna work so hard I'll wish I were dead.... and I won't get a chance to think about being raised again until after church on Sunday....

Something's squirrely about all that....

If you live around here--come and buy something.... we give 100% of the $$$ away --this year we are giving it all to the Red Cross for local relief.

I pray for the families who have lost loved ones in the Gulf; I pray for the citizens of Arizona with their new crap for so-called immigration law... talk about civil rights violations and racial profiling.... for the citizens of Richmond --gun violence galore recently.... for K, K, B, J, and J.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Missionary style

Sex or no sex, that is the question....

So, is this sign about gender or is it about a physical act? Both, I would say, because who can really separate the two?

Why is it that purity codes or sanctification or consecration always have delineated sex, either gender or physical act or both, as part of its negative/controlling presuppositions or default positions.

Well, I would say that these concepts of self, gender, and sex are so intimately interwoven that they are foundational.... there is no escaping them.... even if you know yourself to be asexual... And if they are foundational, they are default positions.

So, yes, religion enshrines sex, gender and physical act. An idol.

I hate religion.

Let me say it again-- I REALLY hate religion. I believe I learned to hate religion when I was a kid and was prevented from serving at the altar because of my physical gifts of gender. Yes, my brothers could enter that sanctuary behind the altar rail because they each had a penis. I could not because I did not. But, I was promised that when I was old and gray and safely and presumably asexual, I too, could put on gloves and be the unseen kitchen servant to set up, wash and clean.

I learned to despise religion about 20 or so years ago, when my mother dragged me, along with Joel --and the both of us rather unwillingly, to one of her 'lectures' in Sonoma (CA) --she had a guru there, and she went and studied poetry and bible studies and the like... But this evening was going to be special. A man of great esteem to her guru was going to give a series of lectures, and mom wanted me and Joel to hear him.

The man was René Girard. And in that evening, at some point, he said that Jesus lived and died to end religion, and what we have done is set up a religion in his name. (I think, THINK, that Girard was lecturing on his work which would lead to this book, The Scapegoat.)

Here is an excerpt about scapegoating by Girard...

(And I was free. Suddenly free. Thanks be to God almighty --todopoderso. I saw that Jesus worked to undo all the religious hierarchy, all the rules, all the taboo crap, all the regulations that do not lead to understanding God, but lead to their own end--religion.)

I would venture to say that the church is guilty of scapegoating. Of course, that is not new... But, in recent times we have taken a false idol, SEX (gender and action), and heaped all that we feel is wrong with society and culture on the backs of those whose gender orientation, expression and sexual activity are not the "norm" (straight male domination). And we are trying to bully them--women and those pesky gays, in to exile to die in the desert.

And of course, this activity by the church is not new.... sigh.

What is refreshing.... 'they' are not cooperating.

If you have not yet read it, read these essays here, and here, and here, and here.

Well, at least some are not cooperating.

Aye, matey. Scapegoating....

At morning prayer (Colossians 2:20-23) If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch"? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

LOLROFL!!! Ha, Paul, you redeem yourself with this one honey! God love ya! How true!

Oh --what we could do if we actually kicked religion out of the church! And I'm not talking smells and bells.... ohhhh, how would that change our missionary style?!

Thank you mom. Thank you. Damn, I miss you.
God bless you Girard.
Blessed be God for Jesus who frees us from religion.

Isn't it amazing that we have a faith with incarnation and resurrection, yet we keep focusing on the cross which is the tool of scapegoaters. The other side of the cross is the undoing of scapegoating. Just sayin'.

Oh --maybe my Lent is finally, finally coming to an end.

And it's spring --sex in the very air! How delightful!

Peace out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Present tense and the long view.... gourmet cooking in a microwave world

This is a thermal image of the sun. I know it's Earth Day. But, we wouldn't be what we are without the sun... and I mean that in a physics scientifical AND theological mystical way. Besides, I couldn't resist --it's one of the new NASA photos from their new doohicky out in space.

Whorls on the sun. Cowlicks of magnetic syrup. My imagination couldn't do better. Dang, God is freakin' good.

And, yes, let's take better care of our planet. We cannot exist without her.

And last night, a friend posted the link (on Facebook) to this interview with Chomsky. He compares the tone of the rhetoric and the general trends of distrust of institutions and government in 1930 Germany with the States today. He says it seems likely that we will foment violence and targets of our violence:

Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.

He continues: The mood of the country is frightening. The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.

And sez: There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice.

But he is equally unrelenting on the liberal or even left-wing intellectuals...

A couple of months ago, I was in a spiritual crisis and wondering what the hell I was doing as a priest. In this country. In this holy city of the south. As a wife. As a woman.

I sought the help of a local wise man --sitting and crying for an hour -crying so hard the snot wouldn't stop coming out of my nose, so I would talk and then blow and then talk some more and blow some more. I talked about a crisis in the congregation which, while absolutely awful and devastating, made me feel well used --like all the light switches in my bank of switches were turned on. I felt fully alive. And I talked about Guatemala and how alive that place made me feel --where the colonialism and risk and death were so present, and the necessary work seemed so obvious.... And I talked about my feelings of defeat and demoralization in parish ministry in this diocese.

Given the alive feelings in crisis work and Guatemala --what the hell was I doing?

After I thought I had no more tears and snot to offer, he said something which has continued to ground me --he said that the crisis work and Guatemala were not separate but rather put my priesthood and its work in to stark clarity, and it that had a beginning and an end--which is why there was some comfort and lure in them. Yes, Guatemala put my priesthood and its work in to stark clarity because I could see the problems and the questions so clearly.

He said, these instances were on a continuum, on a spectrum, these were like bookends to my daily work --that they seemed like clarions of vocation because they allowed me to focus and see clearly --and my daily work is the unending work of the Body, but is exactly like the crisis/Guatemala scenarios except without end. And work without end is exhausting and dis-spiriting. And that is what priesthood looks like. So, I needed to step back and take the long view....

Funny, I thought. I thought I was exercising the long view....

So, in reading the Chomsky interview, it occurred to me to really articulate it --I have felt Lent without end this year. I keep seeking the confirmation of the empty tomb. For the first time ever in my life, Easter has not yet really dawned. Me. The one who is constantly assured of and lives in the confidence of grace and resurrection.... I have not been able to draw my eyes off the violence, torture and muck of the cross.

And there is a general dismissal of Chomsky because he writes only temporal pieces --nothing that becomes a lasting definitive work --only stuff that pertains locally and temporally... and for this, he is dismissed.

Taking the long mind. Local and temporal.

Doing both, I think, is essential --long minded temporality. Waiting faithfully. Working faithfully. In the present moment. For the long run. Me. My community. My church and diocese. My country. My world. My sun. My solar system. My universe.

It's like running a marathon. One must concentrate on the next quarter-mile while pacing for the goal.

At morning prayer (Psalm 37:7-12, 17-18)

Be still before the Lord *
and wait patiently for him.

Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, *
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.

For evildoers shall be cut off,*
but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.

In a little while the wicked shall be no more;*
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.

But the lowly shall possess the land;*
they will delight in abundance of peace.

The little that the righteous has *
is better than great riches of the wicked.

For the power of the wicked shall be broken, *
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

Working today by visiting some of our elders --some of whom no longer discern the shadows on the wall of the cave, but have turned and are talking in to the light about things of which I have no memory or knowledge.

And I will have to climb with the engineer man up the tower to discern if the insurance will cover the damage the snow exploited....

Knowing the sun without looking at it... --on Earth Day. Gourmet cooking in a microwave world.
There we are.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

warm = rain.... dang. That's not what I learned as a child.

It's raining. Uuughhh. My western weather sensibilities still have warm = no rain as the default position, and I must struggle to constantly re-orient those sensibilities in the spring and summer here in the east.

If you have ever lived six months without rain in summer heat, you will know what I mean. On the other hand, the overwhelming abundant green in the summer here helps with that overwhelming re-orientation.

Faith is like that. For me any way. My default position is one of --just get on with it, whatever 'it' is at that particular moment. I must struggle to constantly re-orient that sensibility to get on with it faithfully... ---in light of abundant life and love.

Yah.... to believe in love takes no skill at all.... to act in love, to do love, ---practice, practice, practice....

Practicing love is not an onerous task --it is delightful, uplifting, revelatory, tasty, awesome....

Thing is, even though the Supreme Court recognizes corporations as individuals under the law, I find it impossible to love an institution.... or an idea. Which may be why I have never been a flag waver or one who attends pep rallies and the like. It's the flesh and blood, the faces that move me --encourage me to leap out of my own skin.... and seek the mantle of love.

Sometimes that is really difficult.... as in a church such as ours.

When I first arrived in Richmond, I said that the church was in a reformation as large if not larger than any before. Some vehemently disagreed --I mean, this is Richmond and some things just don't change --and certainly the church is the safe place where things won't change and upset the apple cart....

But the church must change, and it will change. For the sake of the love that is in all of us. If we put love before all else, what would church look like...?

Now, some equate love with a disappearing self... a self that takes no never mind for its own well being. When my husband was an angry drunk, I thought I should die for his sake, out of love. Now, I know that is not--was not love --that was merely dying for a drunk and my own lack of self respect. Love seeks abundant life as its default position, and drunkenness does not lead to abundant life. And following after the drunk does not lead to abundant life.

Now, I know to speak up and say --that ain't right-- I love you enough to know you are a drunk and we need help... and I love myself enough to say no to the anger, the depression, the fear --the lack of self that leads to drunkenness. I will not abandon you to drunkenness, but I will not partake of it myself.

Some in the church are asking others to disappear. In other words, put themselves back in the closet.... and they think they are asking in love...

And, yes, I am comparing the strife in the church and larger communion to addiction. Addiction to power, privilege, gender ideas, institutional patterns.... you name it. And in the name of love, we should not abandon them.... but we should also practice not partaking of it.... not being co-dependent to those who do not see....

When Joel and I hit the bottom we were so lucky. And as the scales were lifted from our eyes --the scales of addiction and co-dependency, we began to seek life. Those in our families who were still stuck despised us for changing, for breaking those patterns to which all had become accustomed. Yes, addiction is a learned system in which the whole family is involved.

But when you have tasted the freedom, the resurrection to life and love....

And this is a strange post --mostly unfinished.... a rambling rose. And I have probably made some strange connections.... but my hour is up --I gotta go... --and love all those faces I will see today.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Anselm (Matthew 11:28-30) "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

And, it will be awesome, because love is no burden at all.... hate, despair, rules, self-loathing, you know the list --those are burdensome.... and I will strive not to pick up any of those today. And picking them up for others is not love...

Now --how to love bully bishops?
Aye, matey, that is the question. Ain't it. Re-orientation.... Hey God --something like abundant green would help in this activity, you know...

And I ain't in to no disappearing act... nope. Just sayin'.
(But sometimes it takes more practice and re-orientation than adjusting to warm = rain.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Power--not talking Old Dominion either

(Exodus 19:10-15) The LORD said to Moses: "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain."

So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, "Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman."

Damn it --how the hell did Moses get 'do not go near a woman' from the command that God gave --don't go near the mountain? And that is how it starts --right?! From here, 'do not go near a woman' becomes discrimination, second-class citizenship, being property --all that crap.

I hate it.

Yeah --I know. The origins of it are because of women's great power zapping the men --like the mountain they were forbidden to touch or go near, the power of women was to be avoided... Taboo. Because women-- so strong. Interior stuff.

I despise superstition.

What's really awful --I heard God speaking to me too... ALL the people, until Moses excluded me. Really drove a wedge in my heart...

Poor men. Instead of cultivating their inner self they will beat it out of another. Well, I guess somebody had to do all that laundry...

Poor people in power --the same is still true today. All that has changed is who we beat.

Blessed are the poor.
Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Blessed are those who weep and mourn.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are the down and out.
Blessed are the persecuted.
Because they know.

It seems that what much of what the scriptures address is power. Power. Power. Power. Is that my filter, or is that a true observation? Certainly true, not my filter, in what Jesus says and does....

Hmmmmm-- gives me a whole new light by which to read all those histories I don't much like en el Primero Pacto.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go!
Gonna touch me some edge of some mountain today.
Just for the hell of it.

UPDATE: Our new Moses, our new covenant, and --Don't go near those Episcopalians!!! The taboo crap begins at minute 8.... Episcopalians --it's all your fault! Mary Glasspool --it's all your fault!

Feh! Dude --since when has it been "OUR" Provinces instead of "THE" Provinces....

One other thing, in the multitude --What is it the High Priest says --it is better that one should suffer than all the people die.... Oh yes. Good Friday all over again....

(Power. I guess there is no room in some people's heads to imagine that the majority should make room for a minority.... )

I think I have FINALLY entered the empty tomb, and I am staring around in disbelief.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turkish Bach jazz --Paul, look what you did to me!

I asked an extreme fan of fantasy and magical graphics type parishioner what they thought of Avatar.... 'hated, hated, hated it,' parishioner said... 'it's just not right to mix fantasy and real film techniques --I'm a purist at heart.'

Yes, that was weeks ago, but I've been thinking about it ever since --and not that the story line in Avatar was fantastic--I mean, it was the same ol' story told in a different way... love sees beyond the superficial, crossing cultures and what that really means, entertaining the stranger and meeting the beloved betrayer, destructive unthinking machinations vs in-tune holistic abundant life yadda yadda....

But I liked the movie. Yeah.... silly, huh.... I thought it was really fun and imaginative. Same ol' story, new vision.

My initial thought was to think of being a purist as a kind of fundamentalism.... which of course carries every bad association I can think of.... and then, I remembered that I discovered J.S. Bach when I was twelve --and for years I listened to nothing else except Bach, played nothing but Bach, because everything in the world was an undertone to Bach....

And in a gray way, I subtly regret being a Bach freak. I mean, my life was undoubtedly enriched --even provoked, but I missed the great context of acid rock, underground music and all that because of the way I had fashioned and tuned my ear. I suppose I've made up for it some.... but still, I missed riding the great original wave.

Then, last night, I visited Paul's place, and he posted this, and that led me to this...

Now any Bach purist will recoil in horror.... but I can't help but think that when Bach first hit the scene, he sounded like that... consciously unconscious. Which is what I always liked about Bach... stream of consciousness patterns formalized and patterned.

And, then, I realized, as I was painting the upstairs hall yesterday afternoon a radically formal sage-green, that is precisely how I approach faith --consciously unconscious... and I don't mean unthinking --but more like a mountain stream meets rocks and banks.... shaping and being shaped... simultaneously.

And, I hope and pray that is precisely how I work as a rector and as a priest... shaping and being shaped simultaneously. Because if I were not acting/being/doing faithfully in these, all would be lost for me.

And, because it is ever present in my mind, I am praying for the church, its structures and ways and means, and yes, liturgy.... at the national, international and local level. So much of our institutional structure fails us --it is not so much consciously unconscious as it is self-conscious. Perhaps we have become institutional purists.... and, yes, we are having a joint Vestry and Ministry Chair meeting tomorrow night, and so many of the ministry chairs are also vestry, and that is of great concern to me....

At morning prayer (Exodus 18:14-18) When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, "What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?" Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God." Moses' father-in-law said to him, "What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

We should be whispering this into the ears of our Bishops --the hours they work is so not right.... the responsibilities they shoulder are not good for the body as a whole in so many ways. We should be whispering this into the ears of our clergy, our lay leaders, our vestries --all the baptized.... in So. Many. Ways.

We should be embodying this, consciously and unconsciously... it is a delightfully dangerous disbursement of authority --one which the church experimented with in the invention of priestly type clergy --representatives of the Bishop dispersed throughout boundaries of the diocese --vice bishops if you will....

We have become such institutional fundamentalists... --purists....

I believe the church is in a place where it needs to think about this, all over again for the first time. And in the same way our Lord recruited women, fishermen and tax collectors --those who had no status, team workers marginally employed and the outright despised, we need to look at our systems, processes, and unexpected gifts...., I am thinking of being the father-in-law tomorrow night... whispering in the ears of the vestry...

Because I do think the church can no longer survive those asleep in the pew.... the whole body must arise....

...or, is it the tragic circumstances of our modern and post-modern lives that everyone is already at their limits... and the pew as refuge is a necessary thing... ---and the church needs less formal structure.... needs to go viral... consciously unconscious.... speak the old story in a new language, new forms, new words...

What would that body look like? --like Turkish Bach jazz? I wish I knew. I can't wait to see...

Thank you BB. I think.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Jesus said, feed my sheep so they would get fat and happy... so that we could fleece 'em and eat 'em and sit on 'em and all that kinda stuff....

G'wan. Go to church ....'cuz in the midst of nakedness, and fishing, and swimming, and hauling, and boats, and nets, and building fires, and eating breakfast on the beach, and all the excitement and potential plans and dreams... all the programs that could be developed because of the risen Lord in their midst.... Jesus is quite clear with his instructions... nothing else matters.

G'wan --get on with it! Feed 'em. All of 'em!

a changeable God, Maggie Walker and the Family Foundation... dang.

87 degrees yesterday--headed to the low 60s tomorrow thanks to a cold air mass from Canada. Today is the day of transition.

And it is Maggie Walker Heritage Day --first African American --first woman to found a bank. That would be the first woman in the nation to found a bank and serve as its president. That would be in 1903.... and she's a Richmonder.

That took incredible courage. Fortitude. Brilliance.

And Obama's signing of a bill yesterday allowing gay couples visitation and other rights in hospitals (only those that receive federal monies) seems like a grain of sand on the mountain of all that must be done.... but it is right and good. So far, our local Family Foundation (oh yes--these persons have not only hijacked what it means to be a Christian, but what it means to be a family) has not issued a statement.... but it runs contrary to the bile they passed as a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit anything resembling the privileges of marriage to gay couples including hospital visitation, so I imagine that our very active Attorney General will be filing another law suit against the Federal Government regarding State's rights.... like he did with the health care issues.... and, oh yes, Virginia purposefully passed legislation to contradict the recent Federal health care reform...

Another era of Jim Crow --here we come. Virginia had 25 Jim Crow laws--- 10 of them passed in the 1950s.... There is a whole list of 'victories' at the Family Foundation site....

They say they do it in love...

Morning prayer (1 Peter 4:8-11) Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.

Somehow, me thinks the love I see and know differs radically from the Family Foundation's idea of love.... Somehow, me thinks I would rather seek the fraternity of Maggie Walker.... even as driven as she must have been to do all she did in the face of blatant oppression and legal, social and cultural degradation....

Today, I thank God for all the Maggie Walkers of the world. And I thank God for the powerful powerless love that covers a multitude of sins....

I pray for the new Bishop of Connecticut. I pray for the newly elected Primate of IARCA and the church in Central America. I pray for our Presiding Bishop. And our Bishops.

And I pray for all the people of God who struggle in the hierarchies and institution of the church --that the radical love known in the Resurrection of Jesus may be embodied.... I mean, God just broke all the freakin' laws with that one... including all the ones supposedly writ by the hand of God.... even overcoming the edict of death and mortality issued in the Garden of Eden.... See --a God that does change.

...and ain't that just fine!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sin. Righteousness. Judgment. We got it all wrong.

(John 16:7-12) Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

about sin, because they do not believe in me;

about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;

about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

I suppose if I were going to tattoo some scripture on my body, this would be the text. I suppose if I were going to rent a billboard and hang some scripture on it, this would be the text. I suppose if I were going to live in a cave and mark the cave wall with images of my hand and its deeds, I would include this scripture. I suppose if I were going to be banished to a desert island without books, I would somehow smuggle these words with me, perhaps embroidered in the hem of my pant-leg.

And please, when you read this Gospel of John, whenever you read "believe in me" you should hear "trust me" or "believe me." I don't know why they hell the translators are so damn literal.... 'wrong about sin because they didn't trust me' is a whole different loaf of bread....

....and the 'ruler of this world' is not the devil --it is Christ who holds all things in being who rules... --it is Christ we condemned. That is how wrong we are with judgment.

....and the promise of further revelation.... so much for tradition based upon what we already know or think.

In the last few days, a couple of archbishops in this fine communion of which we are part have issued public letters to the ++ABC demanding that the primates meet without TEC and Canada because these churches in particular have sinned; and because they are righteous, they will do what primates think they can do and issue judgment on us... throw us out of the communion.

Why? --because they have their knickers in a knot about the Glasspool+ election, confirmation and pending consecration as a Bishop in this church.

Perhaps they should read morning prayer today.... and tend to their own houses.

And it is these bishops with whom my bishop is interested in maintaining communion... at the cost of members of his own flock.

What is there to say? I just don't get it. --I mean, I get being in communion with those with whom one disagrees--that is glory; I just don't get acquiescing to bigotry and hate in light of the Gospel.

--but, then, aren't I just being righteous and judgmental....

Hey God --it's margaret here. Okay, so we are wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment. Is this where one is just supposed to be quiet, meditate, and bask in the confidence that we are saved? Say and do nothing because of the knowledge that we are most likely wrong or there is more that we don't know --or be quiet for the sake of the others? Or gloat because those others whom you love who think they are so right are most likely wrong?

I don't think so. Hell no. Just sayin'.

And please watch over J's brother who is having surgery, Auntie N, cousin D, those at war, those oppressed by violence and fear, for all our children....

yayaya, I hear you... --feed my sheep is on my brain.... I promise I will finish my sermon today so that you can change it by tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax day

Oh dear. It's tax day. And now we are so freakin' poor.... we are among the 30% that have to pay more.... lots more.... thousands more.... and I hate paying for war. The rest I really don't mind.

And there is a volcano erupting and disrupting. That is so freakin' cool. God bless God for volcanoes. Really.

At morning prayer (1 Peter 2: 13-21) For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.

As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

No matter the circumstances of the world --taxes and volcanoes, all the scripture this morning whupped my butt. I mean, like the stuff above. This is the stuff that systematic abuse is made of --fodder for those who have power to maintain and exert power. You that are down and out--suffer, endure, righteously.

I hate that.

In the face of overwhelming power and abuse, one might be tempted to use power and force to gain liberation.... in that, I look to the likes of Gandhi or King who did not take the mantle of abuse to heart, nor did they allow it to possess them... but, instead, used powerlessness and nonviolence to undo power and violence.


And it cost them their lives.... but for the sake of others, they gained everything. I think that is what the scripture above is trying to get at.... but like a hammer, scripture in one set of hands can bring down or close up a house-- in another set of hands it can build a house.

As a servant of God, I will live as though I am free because I am free, liberated. Because the freedom I have tasted has changed me and the way I walk down the street, and everything that I am. So, I will not walk down the street as though I own it, because although through Grace the whole world is a gift to me, I will walk down the street in great sympathy to those who wish to either control the street or me.... honoring all the little emperors. And pay taxes as they require, knowing that my true liberty has been paid forward and can never be taken from me.

For those who live in relationships in places where the church has forbidden a blessing and the state makes you less a citizen than others, you know what I mean --you already know the blessing is yours. No 'authority' needs to pronounce it. You live it. It is yours, and nobody can take it from you.

And, yes, we grieve and suffer the daily violence....

And the passion, the uplifting of the face, the hands enfolding love, the touch, the shoulder, the embrace, the apple at the lips, the foot over the edge of the bed to meet the floor, the light upon the collar on her shirt by her hair, his foot and pant cuff against the shoe that way, hands telling the story of the day... --these will always silence their ignorance because our ears hear and eyes see.

The violence does not own me. Taxes do not support my way of life.
Love does.
I will live that way. No matter what.
So help me God.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Still catching up on sleep....

Did I mention that we had four police cars, six policemen, two paddy-wagons, and a handcuffed guy on the church steps just before the Spanish-language Easter Vigil.... And with all the excitement, Juan hid in the basement and we couldn't find him and freaked. And then we found him and we all hugged and cried. And, then, after we lit the fire outside, we went inside and set the predieu on fire. And then some pages stuck together, so we went from the creation of dry land to drowning Egyptians in a flash.

I think we recovered after that....

It was the wildest service evah.

But, at least it wasn't like Easter morning when during the aspurges a flower leaped off its stem and hit someone in the face.... Fortunately, he laughed and put it in his lapel. Assault with a carnation. In the Name of God.

There was something else Malinda and I were laughing about yesterday, but for the life of me, I cannot remember it right now....

At morning prayer (1 Peter 2:5-7) living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
"See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner."

In the face of the circumstances regarding full inclusion in this Diocese, exhausted with all that happens in a parish anyway, but with the added assault of constant rejection, discussions and persons being ignored, rejected, put down, abducted or swept under the carpet, Malinda and I have determined that we will, with the help D who wrote Jesus Phreak, write a curriculum for parishes and diocesan bodies to work on the issues of full inclusion.... perhaps based on the model of anti-racism training.... And I will expand the liturgy we HAVE USED here, to include the theological reflections that morphed and formed it.... (it is based on the marriage rite) and submit it to the Diocese in place of the insulting and depleted 'blessing of the rings' service that has been circulated for approval.

We. Will. Not. Be. Shamed.
We. Will. Not. Be. Silent.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

...she was punished for being raped...

She wasn't born a monster... the gods made her into a monster...

Today is another grinding day when the news on the TV in Richmond will be about the schismatic churches in the north and property and how wicked and evil the Episcopal Church is... how we have 'left' the Tradition. Because of those hooomoooosexxxxuals. Today is Supreme Court day --where the reconstruction-era law that allows congregations to split in disputes and keep their property is going to be tested.... and, of course, a discussion of church-state relationships. Right here, right where Thomas Jefferson walked and talked and wrote.

Somethings really don't change, do they....

More importantly, this news and its coverage will be like salt in the wounds. This Diocese has done a truly marvelous and magnificent job of caring for those who have lost their homes of worship to the schismatics. A great deal of energy has been focused on their care and feeding.

But for those who have been the subject and object of the rhetoric and the venom --not a thing. Promises. Lip service. Assurances. And all of them unfulfilled. When there has been plenty of opportunity to do otherwise. Add to that the insults....

I had forgotten that the diocesan stance on Glasspool+ might have been tempered by the court case.

No I hadn't. Not really.

Yesterday afternoon, Juan and I went to see Clash of the Titans. Whoooohoooo! For animation purists --well, I am sure you will not want to darken the door.

But Juan and I got to discuss stories that tell truth without being true. ....we got to hear about love and hate and fear, our idea of God, about what it means to be a child of God.... what kind of 'power' God has.... after the movie we went off to the bookstore for a book on mythology (and one on rocks and one on the human body too).

But it sent me on a thought trail.... what with Medusa and all... I mean, because of her extreme beauty she was pursued by Poseidon, ran to Athena's temple for protection, was raped there by Poseidon... and Athena (jealous of Medusa's beauty) punished Medusa for desecrating her temple --Athena banished Medusa to her own wreck of a temple in the underworld, turned her into a monster, and she was killed by Perseus for her head.... because it would turn anything who looked her in the eye to stone.... including the monsters that tormented the humans in a contest between the gods.... who were losing their strength and power because humans were no longer giving them due worship....

I mean (insert tongue in cheek) it sounds like the church, doesn't it? Especially that part about Medusa being punished because she was raped.... a pawn in a greater struggle for power...

So, is the truth in this story the tragedy of Medusa ground up by the powers that be.... or is it about what happens when strength, worship and power shifts.... or both/and... and Perseus, loved by both the gods and humans...

What is this power/beauty which the powers that be pursue and violate...? The image of God in people?

Much better, me thinks, to participate in the work of a body which embraces not the want of power, but powerlessness.... servanthood.... human fleshiness... takes on--embraces sin, not purity.... willing to die with criminals.

At morning prayer (John 14:18-20) I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Today, I will remember whose I am. Nothing else matters. I rest my case.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yesterday, after church, Joel and I went out for a late lunch.... it was about 2pm. Walked in to a place close to downtown that used to be an ol'-time pharmacy and is now a restaurant. I ordered eggs benedict--and it was delicious... totally. Then we shared their primo dessert, steamy hot bread pudding in a bourbon sauce.

I probably shouldn't eat for a week....

But, I wasn't feeling so great, even before our heavy late lunch, so came home and went to bed. I slept. And slept. Juan woke me up for supper, and then I went back to bed. And slept. I guess I hadn't yet realized the toll of Holy Week, Immigration, and all the events of this past week.... sigh.

(Have I said recently how proud I am of Juan?! What a great young man!)

I keep coming back to both my expectations and the realities of living in this Diocese, in this State.... I know I shouldn't be surprised at somethings. I know I should be patient in all things. I know what has been said.... promised.... and not promised....

And, ummmm.... did I mention how many personal emails I received from folks who felt it was too risky to respond either to my facebook link or to the post below.... many of them clergy in this Diocese....

You know, it does occur to me, that just because one says one is going to do something in a particular way, and then one does it in that particular way, it still doesn't make that particular way good, or right, or just....

I am reminded of the documentary I watched on PBS the other night, regarding the Civil Rights movement and the show-down between the President of the University of Mississippi and the President of the US. The President of UM kept insisting that he had the responsibility to go slow and preserve a way of life that was being threatened.... and what hell ensued.

Does the Gospel always provoke wrath? Yes, I suppose so. And I remain convinced that the Gospel and politics are like water and oil.... they don't mix well.

And here it is Easter, and I keep thinking like it is Good Friday. Longest effing Good Friday evah.

At morning prayer (1 Peter 1:3-9) May grace and peace be yours in abundance. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Okay --do you know what strikes me every Sunday.... none of our prayers are personal, singular. We pray corporately. WE. So none of us is personally saved --we are corporately saved.

In the above letter --all the 'you' statements, THEY ARE PLURAL. Although all y'all have not seen him, all y'all love him; and even though all y'all do not see him now, all y'all believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for all y'all are receiving the outcome of all y'alls faith, the salvation of all y'alls souls.

If you suddenly realized your right hand were submerged in boiling water, wouldn't you just pull it out? --or would you wait to ask your left hand and your feet if they were ready and willing to pull the right hand out? Or, would you make a plan how to pull your right hand out...? Or, perhaps the discussion of whether or not the right hand really belonged to the body needs to happen?


And, there is nothing outside the BODY, because He holds all things in being...

Oh --and yeah... in this case, it ain't over until there is an apology to the right hand for making it wait.

Just sayin'.
....sigh.... maybe my napping yesterday was an escape hatch....

Oh. There it is.... I am wanting to say yes. And no keeps piercing my heart.

...Mother Mary, great are you who were able to say the great YES. Pray for us, now, and in the hour of our need.... Because you already know that 'no' leads to the cross... and 'no,' 'not yet' or 'maybe' belong to those who said it was better for one to die rather than all the people suffer.


UPDATE: go read this.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

You know, come to think of it, what Doubting Thomas should have doubted is not that Jesus was physically among them.... but that Jesus would put any of us in charge of retaining or forgiving sins!

You can get your t-shirt here.

What's really amazing --even though he doubted, Thomas was there --maintaining relationships.... and the others... those who had seen and knew --they didn't exclude him. That's a good thing.

G'wan. Go to church. Even if you doubt.... you'll be in good company.

The Sabbath --time to break the law and work my butt off

Off to ride my bike --practicing for the Ride to Provide to support our local free clinic. I posted below about an email received from my bishop last night. Please keep this diocese in your prayers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not for the faint of heart....

I wish, I truly wish that it were illegal to be a Christian. Because then those who love the law more than Grace could love the law....

I am grieving tonight. Big time.

I started running from my tears on Ash Wednesday when our Diocesan Resolutions Committee produced a draconian monster, and I kept running toward the hope of an empty tomb for the duration of Lent.

But I have not yet found the empty tomb.... brambles and thorns and rocks too large to move are in my way..... my usually unfettered joy is bound in knots.

Perhaps I should just 'fast' from reading emails from the Diocesan office.... For those who have not the heart to stand up to spiritual violence to the LGBTQ faithful, stop reading now. G'wan. Stop.

This is what I received today:

Dear Diocesan Family,

The Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, a priest of the Diocese of Maryland and a partnered gay woman, was elected to serve as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009. The consent process, a 120-day period, requires the receipt of consents from majorities of the Standing Committees throughout the Episcopal Church and from the Church's bishops with jurisdiction. On March 17, just before the opening of the House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, the presiding bishop's office announced that Canon Glasspool had received the number of consents required to proceed with her ordination and consecration as a bishop.

Along with several other bishops, I had been delaying my vote until the House of Bishops meeting so that we might confer with one another as to the implications of this episcopal election. As consent is a responsibility upon all diocesan bishops, I then sent in my ballot even though the process had already been decided. Understandably, the diocesan offices have received numerous inquiries as to how I voted. I write this to announce my decision for this particular process and to say something about what this means (and doesn't mean) for my leadership in the Diocese of Virginia.

Bishop-elect Glasspool's election has been both a source of celebration and of alarm for many in our diocese, just as in the Episcopal Church and our wider Anglican Communion. In my judgment, both "sides" make compelling arguments and have quite legitimate concerns. Personally, I am more torn by this decision than by any other decision I've yet faced, whether as priest or bishop. After deep prayer and thought, I voted to decline consent to the ordination of Bishop-elect Glasspool. This is not to reflect on Bishop-elect Glasspool herself (who, by all accounts, is indeed highly qualified and well suited for the ministry of bishop) but rather is about the circumstances of this case.

My decision was based on the unique context of this particular election. Under other circumstances, I would have voted differently. Frankly, I look forward to the time when I can. As it is, however, several points swayed my decision; taken together they presented what was to me an overwhelming weight.

First, as I have stated before, I believe that it is theologically inconsistent to ordain a partnered gay person as a bishop without provision for the Church's recognition and blessing of that partnership. (We would not do this with heterosexuals.) As things stand now, the cart is before the horse. To me, the controversy about partnered gay bishops would be moot if we dealt successfully with the blessings of monogamous gay relationships. I will continue to work for that result: first things first.

Second, immediately following last summer's General Convention, both the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury (in letters made available to the Convention) stating that the Convention's actions did not overturn, and should not be interpreted as overturning the moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay and lesbian bishops. That moratorium had been in place since 2006. With statements from both presiding officers of Convention affirming that it remained, for the present, the policy of this Church, it seemed to me that a denial of consent to this election was necessary.

Third, the 2006 General Convention committed the Episcopal Church to participation in the work developing an Anglican Covenant for consideration by the Communion. My understanding is that we pledged to cooperate in those deliberations until the Covenant was either adopted for this Church or not. We gave our word, and I believe that we should live up to that word. To proceed with such a controversial move at the very time that the Covenant is under consideration is, I believe, contrary to the good faith necessary in our commitment to that work and ensuing discernment.

As I made clear when I was elected bishop for the Diocese of Virginia, I am committed to the Anglican Communion. The Communion is not some patched together entity; still less is it something merely abstract. Communion across international bounds and embracing the globe is nothing less than a gift of grace. This is why it must be held dear. I do not know just where this controversy will lead us, but as your bishop I will work to support and strengthen the unique witness that is the worldwide Anglican fellowship of faith.

At the same time, as I have stated clearly in a variety of settings, I am no less committed to the full inclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in all areas of ministry in the Church's life. I understand that my vote to deny consent in this case could be interpreted as backing away from that commitment. Even so, I can only declare again my deep conviction that full inclusion is also a sign of grace-and we should be reaching to embrace it.

From this, it follows that I am both "pro-Communion" and "pro-inclusion." I reject completely any notion that these positions are mutually exclusive. I remain hopeful, even confident, that there is a way to be faithful to this "both/and" witness. Our history teaches us that we Anglicans-when we are at our best-have been able to hold perceived opposites in a creative and liberating tension that has room for everyone and gives birth to new answers. This is the time to reclaim our best yet again.


The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

How do I begin from this point? Theological inconsistencies? --well, then, I choose grace, not consistency.

A moratorium on equality? --well, then, I choose grace, not inequality.

The good faith in supporting the Covenant? --well, then, I choose grace, not saving face.

Both pro-Communion and pro-Inclusion? --well, then, choose inclusion first, for the sake of grace. Damnit!!

For freedom Christ has set us free. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (Gal. 5:1, 2–6)

Consistency, moratoriums, good faith, Communion --they are no more than circumcision if for the sake of these things, those whom God has called are left out. And, really, just one snark through my grief: reading scripture tells me that the church--especially the esteemed 'early' church, has never been consistent nor agreed on much nor even shared much of the same faith of values. Believing that it was is an idol of the worst sort, and insisting that we wait for the mind of the Communion is... an idol of the worst sort....

And, yes, our Standing Committee voted the same as the Bishop. Rules and order....

Right now, I want to congratulate and thank Glasspool+ and her beloved for their courageous act of faith in their living and making a life together in love.... in light of the rhetoric, law, threats of violence which is a (if not THE) reality of so many of our LGBTQ sister and brothers.... --the witness and strength of that alone should be enough.... thank you, to the both of you. Your courage gives me strength.

And thank you to the majority of bishops and standing committees who chose grace over everything else. Thank you.

In the meantime, I grieve. And weep. And wish that it were illegal to be a Christian. And hope to continue to choose grace. For the hope that is still in me. Somehow.

The power of sin is the law.... I didn't make that up

We have an old fashioned house ---brick, tall, narrow, three-stories tall, twenty-two feet wide in a lot that is twenty-four feet wide, transom windows over the doors, each room opens in to the other as well as in to the small hall at the top of the stairs.... and the closets.... The two small bedrooms upstairs did not have closets as all, and the other two bedrooms had very small closets about as wide as they are deep.... --which was not much closet at all...

So, last year, we took the back porch upstairs (remember the old sleeping porches?) enclosed it, and made it a sitting room off the big bedroom in the back, and made the small bedroom next to it a walk-in closet (yippeeee!!) accessible from the sitting room (because it, too, had a door to the sleeping porch). We made the original hallway door area from that small bedroom in to a real linen closet with shelves (yippppeeee!!!). And now, we have closed the breezeway opening between the two big bedrooms and we are making a closet for the other big bedroom there....

New life in an old house.

But, now, the workmen have seen how spoiled I am, in bed, with my coffee and breakfast on a tray, my computer in my lap.... I confess, that is how I do my morning prayer now. That is when and how I do these posts --give myself one hour to read, sing, pray, write.... usually in that order.

This morning, I am distracted by the sheet rock coming up the stairs, the men banging and talking, the buzz of the screwdriver....

But, this little bit from 1 Corinthians grabbed me:

Morning prayer (1 Corinthians 15:54-58)

"Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

This reading was chosen for a funeral a few months ago. And I have been pondering that line "the power of sin is the law" ever since....

....without sin there is no death?
....without the law, there is no sin?

Yes, in baptism, we die with Christ and are raised in him... and we are to be dead to sin.... which means what? I forget which desert father said it --but he said something to the effect that we are to pay sin no never mind.... but I think that was in reference to someone inquiring about some personal sin thing...

But, it is the systemic sin that gets me riled. Every time. It is the systemic sin that nailed Jesus to the cross --the religious and governmental powers acting to preserve the perceived system, acting to preserve and enact the power they had....

Systemic, institutional sin. The power of the law. Religious law. Governmental law. And it is not that I have no use for either --law is necessary in community. But it is when law is enforced to keep someone else down or out that law is the essence of sin.... law as the power of sin.

I mean, we could begin with canon law stating who can and cannot receive communion... who can and cannot order their life in marriage....

And it certainly would not end there.

But it is Easter week. And we are called to remember this: all the laws were broken. Put to bed. Redeemed. For our sake. And I continue to be blown away by that.

There is nothing else to say.

Hey God, it's me, margaret. You effing blow my mind. Every time. Just sayin'. Thanks. Help me see, know and love the little ones. And the ones who think they are big. Who are just as dear to you. Damnit. And you know all those whom I remember in my prayers, K, K, Y, J, J, C, P, M, J, those at war, those persecuted for being who they are. For those who persecute, prosecute and enforce the law. And all that other stuff which will make me feel both distant and simultaneously present to you. Strange how that happens. And thanks for the rain last night. Here I go, --all that Trinity stuff --amen.