Friday, September 26, 2008

Perchance to Dream

"...surely, you will die."
-Genesis 2:17

So, I've been thinking about death. (Aren't I a happy fellow?) It's typically seen as a negative, as defeat, as suffering - and it can be, of course it can be! Various cultures offer differing views. Rabindranath Tagore - an early 20th century Bengali poet - said, "Death is extinguishing a candle because dawn has come." I like that.

Something I find problematic however, is that our culture views death and age as objective. Lots of folks say, "Relax, you have your whole life ahead of you," or "Don't worry, you have plenty of time - you're still young."


For the 23-year old who dies in a car accident, 21 was pretty old. Age and longevity are so subjective.

I'm not trying to be a fear-monger (Lord knows we have enough of all that) but I do wish to resist the notion that being young is about being shallow, callous, getting wasted, sleeping around, and not giving a damn. This idea is perpetuated across the age board - young and old alike.

Certainly youth should be enjoyed and used to its fullest extent - there's a joy and passion at each phase of life, a joy which ought to be sought out and reveled in. (Of course, as a whiskypalian I'm not at all averse to getting knockered off your rocker every now and then.)

I'm just saying that during a fast-paced time of cynicism and apathy, slowing down and building meaning relationships - trying to live with compassion (the opposite of apathy) and authenticity should have a place too.

(Easier said than done!)

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Episcopal Bishop of Arizona Speaks Out Against AZ Marriage Amendment

We are all for marriage - right?

by Bishop Kirk S. Smith

One more comment about election issues, then I am done. Last week I wrote about Prop 200, and its attempt to impose crushing debt loads on the poor.

This week I would like to say something about Prop 102, which is bound to get me more e-mails because it is about that favorite media topic, sex.

This proposition, the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" left me scratching my head. Doesn't Arizona law already define marriage as a union between a man and woman, and didn't voters already reject a similar initiative in the last election? Why are we going through this again?

I urge you to read the arguments on both sides, and you can find them at: I did, and afterwards I was even more convinced that Prop 102 has nothing to do with upholding marriage and the family -- after all, everyone supports that. Rather it is a much more insidious attempt to exclude gay and lesbian partnerships from full protection under the law. Those who feel that homosexual unions are somehow a "threat" to the American family (Dad, Mom, 2.2 kids) seem determined to make sure that people who are in such unions will know that they are not welcomed in this state, even if their union is recognized elsewhere, hence the constitutional change. I suspect that as more states allow gay/lesbian marriage, the greater will be the perceived threat.

I do wish the supporters of Prop 102 would be honest about their goal instead of bombarding us with misleading ads showing happy family outings and children romping on the playground, implying that such things are somehow endangered by two people of the same sex being in love and wanting to spend their life together.

No matter what you might think about the acceptability of gay/lesbian unions, the way this issue is being presented is really a matter of equal protection under the law, and more important for some of us Christians, whether we are going to "respect the dignity of every human being," as we say in our baptismal vows.

I know that some of the faithful will disagree. The Roman Catholic leadership has come out in favor of the initiative. However, it surprises and disappoints me that after the courageous campaigning for the human rights of undocumented immigrants, that the Catholic leadership would turn their backs on oppressed people on their own doorstep.

Marriage is a complex topic. As the quote below shows, the concept of marriage has changed radically over the course of history. How we regard marriage has deep political, cultural, and religious foundations. I hope that we might look beyond our familiar assumptions and prejudices and do what is right for all God's people, even those who are different from us.

So, I am going join with the League of Women Voters, the mayors of both Phoenix and Tucson, and civil rights groups, and AGAIN say no to this effort to define the family and decide who is welcome in our state and who is not. In my church, all are welcome.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Well said, Bishop.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Exaltation of the Holy Cross (II)

How appropriate that on this great and terrible feast day, this display was featured in the library.

It is about the women murdered in Juarez, Mexico.

Salvador del mundo,

que por tu cruz y

preciosa sangre nos has redimido,

sálvanos y ayúdanos,

humildemente te suplicamos, o Señor.

(Many things to many people.)

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

(Many things to many people.)

Friday, September 12, 2008


"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism... Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."
--Benedict XVI

Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mary

Today is the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Interesting fact for those of you familiar with Arizona; The iconic pink Church of the Nativity in Flagstaff is not so named for the nativity of Jesus, as I had previously presumed. It is named for the nativity of Mary.

Who knew?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Small Rant Before Lunch

Soooo the other day, while perusing my local Barnes & Noble (read: I wanted a muffin, but am too poor to afford actual books) I decided to stop by the Science section.

Marine Biology? Quite nice. String Theory? Excellent. Introduction to Organic Chemistry? Not my cup of tea, but okay.

Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion? The God Who Wasn't There? And God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens?

These aren't science books. They should be filed under Religion & Philosophy!

Barnes & Noble, your irony makes my brain hurt.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

True in the 4th century - still true today

"While we try to amass wealth, make piles of money, get hold of the land as our real property, overtop one another in riches, we have palpably cast off justice, and lost the common good. I should like to know how any man can be just, who is deliberately aiming to get out of someone else what he wants for himself."
--St. Basil the Great