Thursday, August 28, 2008

St. Academius?

Seminary requires an academically hefty load, what with exegesis and history and research and all that. It's also expensive, especially if you're an Episcopalian.

So who is going to Seminary? Who is succeeding in Seminary? If the answer is "rich folks who have a Bachelor's degree and are good at writing analytical research essays on Biblical exegesis," well...

Do we really want a homogeneous presbytery? Jesus' disciples were diverse people from all walks of life. All kinds of different backgrounds, economic statuses, and talents. Fishermen and tax collectors, whew.

I'm not saying our priests shouldn't be well-trained and versed in church history, homiletics, exegesis and all that good stuff. I'm just saying that maybe it's not as important as we think it is. I've met loads of people who have been priests without being ordained, if you know what I mean. (And conversely, we all know clergy who really ought to stick with tax-collecting.)

Who is going to Seminary? Who can go to Seminary? Who succeeds in Seminary? Just some stuff to think about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


"When you can enjoy the state of being lost,
you are set free from loss."
-Pokiehl, the Dreamteller

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'...

"My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty. " (Malachi 1:11)

Monday, August 18, 2008

St. George, St. Andrew's Cross

One of the things I've been seeing on various anti-Episcopal blogs lately is the shield of the Episcopal Church (USA) turned upside down. I suppose this is a childish and banal (you can't do anything better with photoshop? Really?) attempt at protest.

Let's just take a moment to remind ourselves that the red cross is St. George's cross, patron saint of England. The red signifies the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Blue is representative of the Mother of God, and the 9-cross pattern is St. Andrew's cross, patron saint of Scotland. The 9 crosses represent 9 dioceses of Scotland, a country which ordained American bishops when the English refused.

Normally, I'm all for protest. But like it or not, th e Episcopal shield is a Christian symbol. (One that represents Christ, Mary, and the Saints, at that.) When fellow Christians engage in its desecration, they're only shooting themselves in the foot. I can't imagine God smiling on the act, either.

Stick with photoshopping devil horns onto Katharine's head or something.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Nature is Beautiful (Question Mark)

"Nature is the most powerful thing God made.
In fact, it's the only thing he ever made."
-Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

So, there's something on my mind lately. Namely, humanity and our perception of nature.

Most people would say that nature is beautiful, that feeling connected to the earth and all living creatures is a positive thing. 9 times out of 10, I'd agree with that.

After all, who wouldn't agree that this is beautiful?

Sunsets, butterflies, vast coral reefs, polar bears, rainforests, starfish, the great Northern lights - we're generally okay with these things.

But what about the less-than-savory side of nature?

Tornadoes, parasites, earthquakes, viruses, floods, flesh-eating bacteria- these are all part of nature, too. Not exactly what comes to mind when I hear "God's creation," but there you have it.

It begs the question, ought we embrace the repellent side of nature? As squishy, soft-skinned mammals, we're naturally averse to things like, say, the AIDS virus. Or being burned alive in a volcanic eruption. Or sucked into a black hole.

A few months ago, I read something funny on an Atheist website, in an article about neo-Pagan Earth religions.
"Wiccans, though generally more tolerable than Judeo-Christians, are just as happy to be sucked away by a hurricane, praising the gods and thanking the Goddess for the opportunity."

Seriously though, when we thank God for the gift of Creation, do we really mean all of Creation? Aren't we, as squishy soft-skinned mammals, guilty of picking and choosing?

In the collective thought of the Christian think-tank, there are a few answers/opinions which come to mind.

One is of the ultra-liberal revisionist John S. Spong. That is, that there is no loving theistic Creator God watching out for us, that nature is in fact cruel, and that God is better understood as the impersonal Force which comes from harmonious interpersonal relationships. Jesus was a very nice person. (If he was real.)

If that's true, I'm going to be so pissed. Because it means I've been worshiping a 2,000 year old corpse, and taking moral cues from an outdated work of fiction. Quite frankly, I'd get more out of staying home on Sunday morning and watching Star Wars. It has better special effects than the Bible, and Chewbacca is way cooler than King Solomon.

On the other hand, we've got the colonial imperialist thinking of the 17th - 19th centuries. (Also Ann Coulter.) That is, that humanity is superior to nature and as such, it is our birthright - nay, duty - to rape and pillage the earth for all its worth. To subdue all inferior creatures and races beneath our mighty sword. I don't buy that either.

So, where does that leave us? How do we understand God, through the lens of God's creation? Even the less desirable aspects of that creation? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've had this quote on my MySpace (yes, I have one of those awful things, and yes, they are stupid) for a long time, dunno why I've never shared it. This is one of my favorite quotes, and it's from - of all places - "Kingdom of Heaven."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happiness is $0.95 off your next purchase

Today, a woman at the grocery store came up behind me while I was buying milk, and handed me a coupon. She said, "You need this more than I do, I'm an old woman!" She was only maybe 46 , with fair brown skin like parchment and short, neatly hairsprayed hair framed around gold earrings.

Touched by this small gesture, I thanked her, and you know what? I couldn't stop smiling, and I smiled at people in the store and they smiled back at me. Which made me smile more.

Waiting in line, I saw a tabloid about Dr. Phil apparently dumping his spouse, with the yellow block-letter exclamation, "Wife tells all! The lies! The screaming! The pain! The abuse! And more!" As if lies, screaming, pain and abuse are products to be marketed and sold.

And as I handed the cashier my coupon, I had a "real" moment, where everything is made abundantly clear, and the most insignificant things become all-important.

So, God lurks in Safeway. Who knew?