Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On A Similar Note...

There is one Episcopal parish in Provo, Utah - home to Brigham Young University, where the religious population is 98% Mormon. Coming from an ex-Mormon background, I can only imagine the kind of sanctuary and safe harbor that place has been for so many people struggling with faith.

They have a great creed at St. Mary's, one which I think speaks to people from all walks of life, especially those who have suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of their faith system and its leaders:

+Mercy over Judgment+

+Relationships over Rules+

+Spirituality over Religion+


Monday, June 23, 2008


In a statement to be read in California churches on Sunday, LDS President Thomas S. Monson, with his counselors in the governing First Presidency, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, says Mormon teachings on the issue "are unequivocal."

"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator's plan for his children," the statement says. "We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."

- - -

- - -

Episcopal Bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Responds to Ruling by the California Supreme Court:

"I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family. All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions. As always, I welcome your wisdom, your insights and your input on these matters, and I continue in my commitment to work for a Church that sees all of God’s children through the same eyes that God does."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prayer, Part Deux

Prayer is something I struggle with. Not doing it, necessarily (although that's hard sometimes too) but just defining it. What does it mean to pray? What's the point of prayer? How are prayers answered? Why are they left unanswered? So many questions.

Like many people, I was raised with the notion that God is an awful lot like Santa Claus - he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good - so be good, for goodness sake! And, if you're good enough, then you'll be rewarded.

Once I realized that God wasn't going to grant me three wishes - no matter how "good" I try to be - I thought to myself, "Well, what's the point?" Honestly, what is the point in praying for a sick person if they're not going to be healed?

Because we are fragile creatures with very breakable
hearts who need to commune with the Divine.

It'd be a sad, sad world if you never called your sister or best friend or uncle - except for when you needed money. Or when someone had died. Just like we need intimate relationships with human beings, we need that intimacy with God. And if you want to know someone, you're going to have to speak with him/her at some point.

The Catechism (I don't know why I don't read it more often - it's a wise little book) says:

Q. Why do we praise God?
A. We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God's Being draws praise from us.

Oh, duh. I knew that.

Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.

I find the most sincere and genuine form of prayer to be wordless, and often spontaneous. We respond to God in fear (too often, probably), in sorrow, in agony, in joy, and in love. And God hears us.

One of my favorite lines about God comes from the movie "What Dreams May Come." Robin Williams' character, after dying, asks his fellow departed friend where God is. His friend smiles, points to the sky and says, "Oh, he's up there somewhere - shouting down that he loves us, and wondering why we can't hear him."

Prayer, salvation, communion - all these are mysteries of God. They can't be put into a solvable formula. (If only it were so easy! "I do x, and God will do y.")

God's mysteries, in a sense, can only be deeply understood through the soul - not the brain, not the heart, not the body. They cannot be explained. That is terribly frustrating for us humans. We demand explanations for everything.

So, we continue to pray for the sick, the dying - those who suffer, including ourselves. Because prayer - communion with the sacred - is a healing act. It is, by nature, restorative.

Listen to this song, it's one of my new favorites:

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park,
I asked God who I'm supposed to be.

The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie.
I said a prayer and fell asleep.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In the spirit of my last two posts, I suppose, I'd like to share with you the description of a group I joined on Facebook. It's pretty funny.

It's called "I Like People....In Theory."

"This is for all those idealistic people who love the idea of world peace, getting along with everyone and who pretty much want to make the world a better place, but frequently get the urge to bitch-slap the moron who cuts them off in traffic, open up a can of whoop-ass on the littering birthday picnic-ers at the park or take down the rude neighbor in the apartment next door with the really loud television, dog, children, and/or sexual behaviors. Ever-optimistic, yet ever-annoyed individuals because of the stupidity and carelessness of our society. Somebody will make the world a better place -- but it probably won't be us."


Seriously though, I feel this way most of the time.

I think I'm getting better at it, but it's difficult to reconcile my Christianity with my frankly judgmental nature. If I'd been around in Jesus' time, I'd be the one saying, "Yes! Love the poor! ....From a safe distance. Right, Jesus?" I have a tendency to establish connections with those whom it is already easy for me to love. I even catch myself eyeballing the poor fashion choices of certain parishioners as they kneel at the altar on Sunday morning! Then I feel guilty for thinking that way. Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. Oh boy.

My best friend (who feels the same way) joked that people like us should get bonus points for being Christians.

I suppose the important thing for me (and all of us) to remember is that we all have vices, and that's okay -- it's what makes us us. And that once we identify those vices, we can dig a little deeper to find out why we're so judgmental (or angry or empty or cold or whatever) - and begin to ask for God's unconditional love and forgiveness, to heal whatever wounds we have that cause us to hurt others and ourselves.

Yes, unconditional forgiveness.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Good Lord Knows....

"You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being."
-Evelyn Waugh

You and me both, Mister Waugh, you and me both...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ordaining Trees to Save Them

The article is from 11 years ago, but it's happening again, according to NPR. I couldn't find a podcast of the radio broadcast where I heard about it.

Thought for the Day

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I Am.

Be still and Know.

Be still.