Sunday, October 31, 2004

Lots of Work to Do 

What a whirlwind day! Joyce, Siobhan, and I toured Seattle downtown today, visiting Pike Plaza Market, a few piers, having lunch in a Mediterranean restaurant, enjoying a cookie from a company called "Cow Chips", and refreshing ourselves with afternoon tea at a local tea company. Following that afternoon, we headed back to the O'Neills for a brief respite, wherein we watched a part of the amazing Miami-UNC game (Final Score: Miami 28, UNC 31) and Joyce learned her Michigan team won in 3OT. We dined with the two clergy persons at a local Japanese restaurant and discussed how we would negotiate our time here. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, I must admit. There is much to be done. Driving is a big part of our challenge here, not only figuring out where to go and how to get there, but also in not dying on the myraid highways. Ye gods!

After dinner, we dropped in on the Youth Lock-in (ah, I remember those days with great fondness!) and played a few games with them, where I inadvertantly won one. The prize: Shrek ears, which I have been instructed must be worn at service tomorrow and that I have to come up with what saint they best coorespond with. Speaking of figuring things out, I found myself winding through a dinner conversation tonight out of which came the idea that I would preach at St. Thomas' on Wednesday! Wow! The feast day is that of Richard Hooker, so I'll be busy garnering ideas for that brief sermon (to be shorter than the Seabury 3-5 minuter).

There is a lot to be done here and much to investigate. The "story" of these two parishes will be an interesting one to uncover in all their facets, amid all the anger and resentment, and in the works of healing and reconciliation being done throughout in different, albeit low-key ways. That being said, I think I'll retire early tonight, catch up on some sleep, and be ready to hit the ground running tomorrow morning at All Saints. Goodnight.


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Saturday, October 30, 2004


I arrived safely in Seattle last night at about 10pm local (PST) time after a long 4 hour flight. I stayed the night with St. Thomas' Associate Rector's friend and am now at the lovely home of the O'Neill's, where I will be staying for the remainder of the time. They are a wonderful family with 2 children, Katie (15) and Kevin (14). Their home is enormous and quite fantastic. Steve, the Dad, is quite the Scotch collector and so I believe I was matched up very well. More to come later as I am getting ready to head out.


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Friday, October 29, 2004


Tomorrow evening, I leave for "the Plunge" and will join my team in Seattle, WA for a 12-day stint at St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Medina) and All Saints Episcopal Church (Redmon). It seems they are ready for us and I am excited as well. I will be staying with the O'Neill family, so please keep them especially and all the members of these two congregations in your prayers. I am packed (mostly) and will finish up last minute things in the morning. Note to self: DO NOT FORGET YOUR MEDICATION!

For my reading material, I'll be taking Mary Catherine Hilkert's Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination, Stephen King's The Stand, and finally, the blasted thing (kinda one of those things I need to read, but don't really want to).

And, while I am there, I will reach my one-year anniversary of blogging on November 4th. (Remember the 1st post.) This right here is my 320th posting, so that almost equals out to one post per day.

That's all for now. Time to go shave my head - gotta have a fresh cut before I go! I hope to blog while I am there, but will be at the mercy of Mistress Time and Master Internet Availability. I have no laptop, so that option is no good. We'll see. Bon voyage!


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Thursday, October 28, 2004

News Update 

Contrary to what Bob McGee and BrotherBeal have recently intimated in private conversation, I cannot comment at this time about any future leadership roles I may or may not assume in the Palestinian Authority. Thank you.


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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Instructional Eucharist 

Today's Eucahrist service was, for me, extremely instructional. I learned absolutely nothing about the liturgy, nothing about the lessons or the Gospel, nothing about ecclesiology. In fact, I learned nothing at all about anything that had to do with the church.

I learned about babies.

So, Clifton and his wife apparently have Susie babysit their daughter Sofie from time to time. Well, I noticed Susie with an absolutely adorable child in the hall outside the chapel today and since I knew she didn't have any kids I asked whose it was and she told me. I started playing with Sofie, running around with her, and letting her try to pull my face off via my beard. Well then Susie says, "I have to cant (chant) today. Can you take her?" "Of course!" said I, grinning wildly. I love playing with babies. Then I realized I'd be sitting with this 14 month old for over an hour and I have no idea what to do with a child for that long, especially when they can't run around or be loud. Luckily, I sit next to Jane in chapel, a veteran mom. Susie then came over with a HUGE baby bag and handed it to me. I looked at Jane and said, "Do you know how to use this thing?" Natually, she did, and everything in it too. So, Jane actually took Sofie for the Liturgy of the Word, during which Sofie dissected Jane's prayer book and hymnal, and I took her for the Liturgy of the Table. More truthfully, she just crawled into my lap. Now, during the service, I learned how to keep a kid quiet when she wants to yell: pretzels. I learned how to keep a kid from squirming in your arms: hymnals with ribbons. And I learned how to not pay attention to a dry sermon and get away with it: play with a kid. Now, this child has obviously been paying attention to her Daddy a lot, because she actually crossed herself when she saw others cross themselves, she grabbed at my cross necklace and kissed it repeatedly, and she kissed the prayer books and hymnals like you would an icon (her father is Orthodox). I was amazed. Simply astonished. Then, she started singing during the sermon. I wanted to join in as I already mentioned that the sermon was boring. After she crawled into my lap, she fooled around a bit more and then wanted to be picked up. I picked her up and held her for a short time before there was a small thud on my shoulder, followed by a quiet snore. The cutie had worn herself out and was asleep before she hit the shoulder. So, I had a sleeping baby in my arms and it was awesome. She slept for the rest of the service, through the singing, through communion, through the dismissal and exit. She even slept through being handed back to Susie. My shoulder hurts still. Kudos to parents who lug kids around all day; you're way more powerful than I am. I found myself grinning most of the rest of the day amid answering questions that it was not, in fact, my child. No, no, not quite ready for that yet; I still like to be able to give them back! All in all, it was a great service, though I was only vaguely aware it was going on, and a special day.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Preparing to Plunge 

"The Plunge" - the hallmark of the Seabury education. Every year, the middler (2nd year) class takes the course entitled "Church, Culture, & Mission" which is a class designed to teach the student a bit about parochial ministry. In late October/early November, the students are sent in teams of 2-4 persons to some willing parish around the country for about two weeks where they will dive in, "plunge" into the life of said parish. The goal is to see how a parish is run, analyze and assess the culture in which the parish exists and does mission, and focus on anything of interest to you (as determined by student goals: mine include preaching, congregational development, and adult Christian education). So, my team, comprised of 2 other capable persons, will be headed to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Medina, WA and All Saints' Episcopal Church in Redmon, WA (both on the East side of Seattle, in Microsoftland). Once all one parish, there was a split in the 1980's, creating All Saints'. That will be part of our team's goal - investigating the causes and consequences of that split. So, we leave this Friday for Seattle, about which I am very excited because I am the farthest West I have ever been right now. Plus, Seattle is suppossed to be a neat city. I'll take my rain coat. Our team will return on November 9th, and I do not know what my blogging capability will be when I am there, but I will try to when I can. We'll be staying with some gracious families who have agreed to put us up (put up with us) for the time we are there and we look forward to those relationships. I'm getting excited.

On another note, welcome with me to the blogiverse a friend of mine, K, who is a young Episcopalian discerning a call to priesthood. You can find him over at All Things Not Considered. It seems his new dog and his personal training are occupying much of his time right now, but I would look forward to some interesting and provocative postings about life in the Episcopal church if I were you.

I'm still trying to decide whether to switch to blogger's commenting system. DawgDays, what did you mean when you said "switch instead of fight"?


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Busy Week 

This is going to be an extremely busy week. Today I presided over the first Episcopal Peace Fellowship meeting of the year and it went very well; we had three new members show up. I think it will be a good year for that group with the implemenation of some of my new ideas and the help and gifts of each member.

Friday I leave for Seattle for "the Plunge". I'll tell you more about that later as I am tired now and want to go to bed.

Before I do, one quick question. It seems the commenter system I have is no longer providing the service of saving old comments. This sucks cause everything you say on here gets lost and what you have to say is way more important to me that what I say. So, would you support a switch in commenting systems to Blogger's own commenting system? That would mean if you have a blogger account, you would have to sign in to comment and if you do not, you would have to be diligent about leaving your name, email address, and website address without a field to prompt you. That stuff is important to me, it really is. Give it a try by trying a comment over at Jane Ellen's page. Would you be willing to do this, faithful reader, so that we all may keep your comments? I want you to keep commenting!


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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Rough Loss and Very Busy Day 

The day began bright and early with the Holy Eucharist at Seabury where the Nashotah House students and families joined us for worship before the big football game. Given that it is a Rite I week at Seabury, the Customary dictates that all MC'd services must follow the rite of the week, which was also a good ministry of hospitality to our guests. Still though, it was noted that some of them elected not to receive communion since it was consecrated by a female priest. Then came the game. I was only able to play for the first quarter; more on that later. In that quarter though, I was truly disappointed by the low level of sportsmanship displayed. Only when two seminaries get together can that kind of ugliness come out. It went beyond a healthy competitive spirit I thought. Apparently, at one point after I left, one of thier players shoved one of our players from behind, after the play was over in a cheap move. To our player's credit, he walked away, and to their team's credit they grabbed their player and had a talkin' to. Still though. We're going to be priests for crying out loud and we acted like ten year olds. Anyway, the game ended in a close loss for the Saints, 21-20, due to a two-point conversion scored by the Black Monks.

The reason I had to leave the game early was I had to drive to Oak Park to attend the Adult half of the Keeping God's People Safe seminar. It was worthless as far as I was concerned. It took 3 hours for them to say, in some pretty roundabout and creative ways, "If you're in a position of authority in a church, don't have sex with someone who is not your spouse. And it's a good idea even if you're not in a position of authority." But, I got my certificate that says I'm good to go, so I guess that's the reason I went.

This evening was awesome! Jenni's 30th birthday is today and her friend and classmate of ours, Kassinda, organized a great surprise party for her. We all his up in a classroom and Jenni came in, fully expecting to spend the evning watching movies with her friends. We yelled surprise. She made a funny face and cried. It was nice. Then we sang happy birthday to her and when we got to the part where we were gonna say her name, we all suddenly went silent, and her Mom (flown in from Colorado) jumped out from the hallway and yelled, "Jenni". More tears. More funny faces. More good times. MY CPE supervisor was there and I'm sure she noted I did not cry. I think Jenni was truly surprised and exceptionally pleased. It was a heartwarming night.

Tomorrow is my last day with the kiddies of St. Augustine's. I'll be donning my story-teller's robe and reading them one of my favorites - Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It works with the Gospel lesson, too, so that is a bonus. Well, now, after this extremely busy day, I'm going to bed!


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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Second City 

Just got back from seeing the Second City show with Jeff and Kim, his sister in from out of town. For those not Chitown-saavy, Second City is a comedy club that has oft been a breeding ground for Saturday Night Live and has graduated such comedians as John Candy, Jim Belushi, and Mike Myers. Tonight's show was pretty funny; I've never been to a comedy club before so I really enjoyed it. They did some improv work, calling on the audience for suggestion and mine were picked twice! First, a type of relationship people are in: in-laws. Second, a situation or activity: fishing. Though I must say, the improv scene were theyt asked for a profession of a grandparent, and someone called out painter, was by far the best. Memorable quotes: "The canvas is like a woman, and your paintbrush is like a paintbrush," "Art is air and we are the breathers," & "You must take art with you wherever you go and profound it." There was also a joke made about Sanibel Island and I was the only person who laughed.

Before the show we had dinner with my good friend Katie, with whom I grew up, and her boyfriend Adam, who goes to med school at U of C. Happy birthday to Katie on Sunday! She flew up from Atlanta to spend the weekend with Adam, but we managed to all be able to get some chow together. Usually when she comes up, I get a days notice and already have plans, but this time I got four days! So, it was great to see her. Now, I am going to bed, because it is storming and I have to be up early for the Nashotah vs. Seabury annual Lavabo Bowl (football game). Go Saints!


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Thursday, October 21, 2004

How to Tell You're a Grad Student 

Method #127: You're on the toilet reading a magazine when you come across a pretty big claim in the article. You then catch yourself looking down at the bottom for the footnote...


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A Father's Gift 

Tomorrow in Preaching class we are to give a short speech (1-2 minutes) about something that we are passionate about, which is not related to religion in a driect way. I love assignments like that! Mostly, because I get to speak and I have an audience who is required to be present if not listen. And we all know what happens to events when I speak. Anyway, given the facts that my classmates are likely tired of hearing about Palestine/Israel from me (and thus would tune out, defeating the purpose of the assignment: to instill a sense of fervor in the audience over the topic), that I could not do any aspect of it justice in the time frame, and that it is too connected to religion, I have decided to speak on something else. My two minute (cause I'll use that time without batting an eye) talk will be on my love for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I've made some notes, but when I got to thinking about it, I've decided to go in a completely different direction and just do what I do best: tell a story. So, I'll keep the notes in case I get stuck or something, but I think I've got a good handle on this little assignment. "I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way."


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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Seabury Saints Victory!! 

The combined football intramural teams Seabury Saints and Amish Jihad (Garrett Evangelical United Methodist Seminary) stormed the field yesterday and marched all over the team from Foster-Walker, 20-0! That would make the first Seabury football victory since I've been here! We're going to have to come up with a better team name though, cause the United Library Team really isn't cutting it. Perhaps Amish Saints...

The annual Lavabo Bowl against Nashotah House Theological (Wisconsin) will be this Saturday and we hope to reclaim the cherished title then!


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Monday, October 18, 2004

Initial Response to the Windsor Report 

As some of you know, the Lambeth Commission on Communion's Windsor Report was released today to the general public after being commissioned by The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archibishop of Canterbury one year ago. The purpose of the report was to discern the greatest extent to which communion is possible within the Anglican Communion given the actions of the provinces of the Episcopal Church (USA) and New Westminster (Canada) in consecrating to the episcopate a homosexual man in a committed partnership and the blessing of a same-gender union, respectively. In the words of my bishop and many others, it was not primarily a document dealing with sexuality.

Fr. John Dally, a professor at my seminary, preached today in the Chapel service. He remarked that this report "is not good news for anybody," and I believe him to be right. For those more liberally minded who believe the actions of the 2003 ECUSA General Convention to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and a long-awaited step towards justice, the report is a step backward and the reccomendations therein are unbearable. For those more conservative in their theology, the report represents what has the potential to become the first step in a broken communion, wherein the ECUSA and the Anglican Communion have to learn "to walk apart". So, in truth, this is not good news for anyone.

I am reacting to the report (well, those sections of the 93 page document that I have been able to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest) right now, but I don't want to write too much about it here just yet. As my own tears during today's Chapel service surprised and betrayed to my more conscious self the state of my heart, I feel that my emotions are too raw right now to provide a thoughtful commentary. Moreover, I could not do it justice having not yet read the entire report. The demands of seminary life have not stopped with this report's release and papers continue to be due, just as books do not get read on their own. So, I will leave you with several links to others who have made some initial reactions as well as the injunction to be in prayer for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

From Archbishop Rowan Williams
From Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold
From Bishop John B. Lipscomb, Southwest Florida
From Bishop V. Gene Robinson, New Hampshire (to be posted on October 19, 2004, 9am)
From Bishop Robert Duncan, Pittsburgh
From Bishop Mark Dyer, Lambeth Commission on Communion
From Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Canada
From Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Southern Africa
From Archbishop Bernard Malango, Central Africa

From The Rev. A.K.M. Adam, Professor of New Testament at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (see October 18, 200 entry entitled "Report, Report)
From Fr. Jake, Episcopal Priest and Blogger
From Jane Ellen, Seminarian
From Karen, Seminarian
From Joel Garver, Philosophy Professor - La Salle University
From Ecclesia Anglicana


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Sunday, October 17, 2004


Today, I felt inadequate and humble with the children of St. Augustine's Children's Chapel. I just didn't feel like a connection was made like I have felt in the past weeks. The lesson was a difficult one (Luke 18:1-8a), a stewardship season lesson. What do these kids care about giving money to the church? So, my challenge was to make it relevant to them and I don't think I did a good job. We talked about prayer, what it was, what it meant, and that God always answers prayer. Now, sometimes He doesn't answer prayers in the way that we want Him to, or right away, but He does always answer them. I asked them to think about something for which they had prayed and the answer that God gave them. The two answers that I got that stick in my mind the most, and for which I had no cogent reply were:

1) "I prayed to God that my Daddy would be back alive and he wasn't. He didn't answer me."
2) "I prayed for an X-Box and I didn't get one, so God didn't answer me."

I had no idea what to say to either of these kids that would make any sense to them and it just made me realize what a challenge and what an honorable task it is to educated children in the faith. I've got a lot of learning left to do. I wanted to talk to them about these things but I found myself getting caught up in theology. I didn't want to give them an answer that wasn't theologically sound and I wanted to make it simple for them. But the fact of the matter is, it is complicated. Apparently something as central as prayer.

Completely changing subjects - the Lambeth (Eames) Commission Report will be out tomorrow and the seminary classes will all take time to discuss it. Most people are very anxious about this, and with good reason. I almost laughed out loud in church tonight though when the New Testament lesson from 2 Timothy was read: "For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths." I almost laughed out loud because I could just hear, no matter what the Report says, a bunch of people, no matter what side of the issue they're on, pointing to the fact that this Scripture was read the night before as some sort of Providence. Tomorrow will be interesting, no doubt. I was discussing with a colleague tonight over dinner how tired I was getting of the debate. We both agreed, there are far better things for the Church to be doing that arguing about this. But, I suppose, it must be.


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Preaching Class Exercise 

Last Thursday for our Preaching class we were given a writing assignment. Each student had to write down a phrase on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it into a basket. Then you drew a phrase at random and were given about ten minutes to write about/on it. The phrase could be included in your writing, or hinted at, or used as a jumping off point for something entirely different. When we were finished, we were asked to share about the experience. I remarked that the phrase I drew was interesting because it was something I would never say, yet, when I read my writing aloud to my group, I was surprised at how much of me was in it. This comment seemed to excite the professors. Anyway, here is the phrase (which I later learned is a quote from a movie) and what I wrote:

"Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms."

"Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms. But, I never saw Phantoms, so obviously this is not my memory. So, where then did it come? From what did it arise? I don't know, but what I do know is the only Ben Affleck movie I really liked was Good Will Hunting. The funny part about that movie is the title. Well, really how it is read. When I first saw it, and actually for a long time, I read it as Good Will....Hunting. As in a person with well meaning intention going on a hunt. But the way it is meant to be read is with the adjective good as a descriptor of the boy's name, Will Hunting. He was hunting though, for a girl, for himself. "I told them I had to go see about a girl," Robin Williams character remarks, and, in a way, it's the impetus for the whole film. Ben Affleck's character was a supportive role, which is probably why the Damon/Affleck duo had to split, which in turn led to Affleck being the bomb in Phantoms. What the hell is Phantoms? Who remembers that movie? Not me. I remember Good Will Hunting and having to go see about a girl. I'd like a girl to have to go see about. I'd like my friend to drive up to my house to pick me up for work one morning and smile when I did not answer the door. Because they knew. They knew. They're a good friend. Low maintenance."


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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Welcome to My Corner of the Blogiverse 

I like to do the courtesy to my fellow bloggers who read my postings, or who have me on their blogroll, of adding them to my mine (so long as they are consistent posters, that is) and in the past few days I've discovered a number of folks to whom I've been doing a disservice. So, take a few moments and welcome with me the following folks to my corner of the Blogiverse, then take a few more moments and check out what they have to say.

You'll no doubt recognize Jim's name from the recent back and forth he and I had. His blog features well done, daily, reflections of the Gospel text from the Lectionary. Check him out over at Today's Gospel Insights.

Then go check out Rev. Dave the Kanite's page to read what a Seabury grad is doing in the "real world" of ministry these days. You can find him at Much Nothing About Ado.

Following that, read what The Salty Vicar's been up to these days. You may recognize his name for a few comments he's left here in the past. Though not a Seabury gard to my knowledge, he is an Anglican Vicar in his first year's of ministry and so a valuable source for me engage.

Finally, Clifton, a former Seabury student turned Orthodox writes about his life and doings at Revolutions Around the Cruciform Axis. Check him out for a more conservative Orthodox view on the Christian life and recently, some adorable pictures of his daughter at a pumpkin patch.

That's all I know of for now. If you read my site and have a blog yourself, but I have as of yet failed to add you to my blogroll, speak up! I'd love to add you, get your name that much more out there, and have an easy way to keep up with what you're thinking.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Contributions of a Minister 

In the Church, Culture, & Mission class we were recently asked to write a one page paper in response to the following reflection question. Dr. J posted her's on her blog and I think that's a good idea, so here is mine.

Reflection Question: “What is the particular contribution of an ordained minister to the mission and ministry of a congregation?”

When I was in high school and was president of the youth group, I stopped off at the church one Saturday morning on my way out of town to sign a paper. When I walked into the Great Hall, I found my priest setting some tables for what looked to be a fancy lunch. He saw me, put down his pile of forks, and walked over to greet me. We chatted for a while before I asked, “What are you doing today?” His response will stick with me for a long time to come: “Well, I have this ladies luncheon at noon that the Bishop is attending. Then I have to go visit Mr. X who is sick in the hospital. I’ll come back from that and work on my sermon and then say Evening Prayer before going home to have dinner with my family.” You’ll have noticed there was nothing extraordinary in his response, but for some reason it lit up my soul and I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life. It was the first moment I knew that I wanted to be a priest (different from the time I knew I was going to be a priest.)

Contained in my priest’s answer is the answer to the above question. An ordained minister’s contribution to the mission and ministry of a congregation lies in setting the table. By setting the table of a congregation (s)he both invites and empowers the people to come and eat. (S)he prepares the people to be a part of the Body of Christ in our Lord’s feast and in so doing gives them food for the journey, sustenance to go out into the world and live into the mission of the church. The act of setting the table signifies the One who is greater than the priest or the congregation and invites them to partake plenteously, to go forth and make the mission and ministry their own.


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O God of Peace 

...and lover of concord, where are you?

Haaretz article.


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Monday, October 11, 2004

Response to Jim 

My response was too long, so, as I've the luxary, I'll make it into another post entirely:


If you take the time to read Bishop Lipscomb's address (and that is an investment, it is long) you'll note that he doesn't really promote his position so much as call for the people of the diocese to approach the issue with the same grace, compassion, and generosity of spirit as we witnessed when we were struck by the hurricanes. Now, he does make an analogy to those storms by saying the church faces a spiritual storm right now, which I think is true no matter what side of the line you're on. The Bishop did not invite the PB into "our tent" to tell him how wrong he was. In fact, he invited him against the will of a large number of persons and I thought it was a courageous and well made decision.

With regard to unmarried monogamous life partners, I guess we've just reached an idealogical/theological impasse there.

I made the response I did about my sexual identity not to inflate my own ego or to be extraneous but rather to say I am living the life I call others to live. Pot not calling the kettle black in other words. Now, that's not to say it isn't a hard thing, by any means. Good Lord, no! Temptation always lies at the door.

And finally, with regard to where I go after ordination, I am required to go back to SW FL for a period of time. I do like the diocese, and so don't mind going back. But it is not where I want to stay either. I want to go return to North Carolina after a while once my required time is up and the Spirit so moves. Glad you like reading my stuff. I hope you keep doing so even though you don't always agree. I've lost a number of readers to that. Peace.


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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Convention and Stuff 

As I mentioned, I found going to my diocesan convention to be a good experience. Here's what I recount in roughly the order that it happened.

We began with a Eucharist service presided over by Bishop John and during which the Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was the guest preacher. Jim Kennaugh and the St. John's (Naples) praise band provided the music, so it was awesome! I finally got to hear his group's version of "Be Thou My Vision" again, which I've been wanting to hear again for over a year now. It features some great guitar work and an awesome drum solo during the last verse. They also include a lot more of the verses than does the BCP. So, maybe its not the version you want for a Solemn High Mass, but other than that it rocks! The PB's sermon had its good points I thought, but I was disturbed by how he began. He opened with a statment that there has always been conflict in the church and then jumped to highlighting the Donatist controversy and Augustine's involvement in that by way of example. The Donatists were a group of believers in the 4th century in N. Africa who thought that the efficacy of the sacrament depended on the sanctity of the clergy. It was decided by council and decree that it did not. In light of the current controversy in the church on human sexuality, and in light of the conservative position our Bishop takes on that issue, it was a clever way to rebuke John that I found to be somewhat inappropriate in the context of a sermon in front of a crowd, 95% of whom have no idea who the Donatists were probably (or remember who they were). Other than that, his sermon was ok - he focused on the need of the church to come together as one and remain in community with one another despite differences, a point well made.

Then we heard a variety of reports from different folks before Bishop John gave his address, which, as I've already stated, was right on. In it he called for the search process to begin for a Bishop Coadjutor due to his health and the needs of the diocese. He then stated, to quell any rumors, that he was not setting a date for his resignation or retirement. He said that God-willing and health withstanding he will lead this diocese through the 2006 General Convention and, with the new Coadjutor, through the Lambeth Conference of 2008. The earliest he said he would retire was 2009. This is great news as it will give me the opportunity to serve under him for at least two years.

We commissioned Melanie Fitzsimmons ( a good friend of mine) to be the first commissioned missionary ever from our Diocese to go to the Dominican Republic for a two-year period of service. It was a touching service and the church will be better for it.

Lunch came next and a much needed break from the convention room (a high school gym) as there was no air conditioning! The original site for the convention was destroyed by a hurricane, so we had to improvise on short notice.

After lunch the amazingly inefficient method of electing officers commenced, followed by the debate period on Resolutions. The first resolution passed - a committment to the Birmingham Pledge on Anti-Racism. The second resolution passed, permitting funds to be diverted to missionary work and support on the island of Hispaniola if, in good conscience, parishoners could not give money to the national church because of the General Convention's decision to approve Gene Robinson. The third and fourth resolutions, both defining marriage as being between a man and a woman in a life-long union with abstinence being the proper sexual beavior for those not married, were tabled indefinitely. (They were largely the same resolution, just worded differently.) Now, this frustrated me to no end. Even being in favor of the resolutions, I would be much happier if we had debated them in earnest and then voted to reject them, rather than table them indefinitely. It just proves we are still unwilling to actually talk about this issue and it serves as a wonderful avoidance tactic. Nor does it help define a diocesan position in any way.

After that the report of the tellers came back with the election results and four more rounds of voting ensued to rule out ties. Like I said, wildly inefficient.

But, all in all it was a great experience for me. I got to network with a lot of good people (and potential employers) as well as get connected with some old friends. I am looking forward to going back to this diocese in two years to serve as a deacon and then a priest. It is a good place to be.

Other stuff: Over the weekend I not only finished Christoher Moore's book, Lamb, but I began and finished another novel - Barry Unsworth's Morality Play. It was pretty good, though a bit heavier than I anticipated. The story of a young renegade priest who joins a troupe of players, it tells the tale of them as they decide to play the ongoing story of a murder in a small medieval town in the 14th century. Through the play, the murder is evolved as more and more clues are revealed. It is a great look at the evolution of theatre, 14th century European life, as well as an accomplished murder mystery. Now, I am tackling, purely for the fun of it, Stephen King's epic apocalyptic tale, The Stand. That's about all for now, and wow, it's enough!


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Home Tomorrow 

Tomorrow morning I fly out early. Convention today was good; more to come on that later.

Bishop John's address was right on! I really approved of it and thought he hit the nail of our diocese on the head. It was probably pretty tough to say some of the things he said with the Presiding Bishop sitting right there in the front row, but they needed to be said and John said them with grace and compassion. I am proud to be postulant in this diocese.


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Friday, October 08, 2004

Quick Jaunt 

Arriving in Fort Myers late Thursday night, I began this quick trip home. Tomorrow is convention; I have to leave the house at 5:30am in order to get there on time as it is a 2 hour drive and visitors have to come early in order to get a seat. It will be good to see a lot of people I know and have not visited with in quite some time and I am anxious to see how our convention works, having never been to one before.

On the flight to FL, I finished Christopher Moore's Lamb (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal) and it was awesome! Not only was it both clever and funny, but I noticed quickly that Moore was remaining faithful to the core of the Gospel message, which made an impression on me. There were many parts where I laughed out loud at Moore's guess as how things happened during the Messiah's formative years. He carries the story all the way to the conclusion, though gives about as much time to the Resurrection as Mel Gibson did. What was funny, and I thought a testament to Moore's ability as an author, was that during the Passion Week, the same kind of jokes were cracked among the characters, the same kind of silly things happened, but then they only elicited a smile out of me and hardly a chuckle out of the characters. Everyone knew what was going on. I was impressed by Moore's ability to make me feel that as well. In the author's note at the end Moore writes that he made some theological assumptions before writing the book, namely that Jesus was who the Gospels said He was. I could tell that well before reading said note. So, I do highly reccommend this novel to you and will give you the same advice the author gives: if you are going to be offended by this book, perhaps you have some more praying to do anyway.


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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Convention Update 

I received a helpful email today from someone from my home diocese who is a member of the Via Media group about which I wrote in part several days ago. The email informed me that the group has no intention on calling Bishop John to resign at convention or at any other time. To the contrary, they have met with the Bishop and have expressed their desire to continue to be in dialogue with him and he with them. The bishop expressed the same desire. Those members of the group who did suggest that the Bishop resign were not, thankfully, on the steering committee. This is quite a relief to me and I am thankful to the people who have pointed this out to me. While there has been some suggestion that it may be time for us to start thinking about a co-adjutor or assistant to the bishop, the reasons for that are apart from those suggested in the previous posting.

In no way do I want to spread rumors that are untrue, which is why I offer this correction as I believe needs to be done. I blogged about what I heard the other day because I had such a strong reaction to it and I often work out my emotions on here, in public, so that you, the faithful reader, can work through them with me. In part this is my journey, and in part it is our journey. I suppose it remains to be seen what will happen at Convention, but my mind is more at ease now that I have heard from the Via Media group specifically.


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A Look at Racism 

In the past few days, I've been thinking about racism alot, specifically, the systemic or institutional forms that we hear much about these days. What spawned this thinking was a reflection on my seminary's policy to have a quota system for liturgical party diversity during student designed worship services. So, when designing a service, you have to try and make sure men, women, white, black, asian, hispanic, gay, straight, young and old are all represented. Given the make up of the student body at Seabury, this meant the same three people were always being asked to serve on liturgical parties because of thier color. Now, I believe this stems from the fact that our school suffers a bit from white liberal guilt and so we sometimes seek to overcompensate for the mistakes of the past. Others may disagree. I have been working to change the quota system mentioned above in my capacity as MC Coordinator by advocating that if a liturgical party is all black women one day, that's fine with me. If it's all white men another day, that's fine with me. We have a small enough community here that it will even out in the end. Another way I've been striving to change this quota system is by example of my own MCing. Next week will be the feast day for Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer, and in order to fill out my liturgical party, I've allowed people to sign up for the positions just as they would for any other service. Lo and behold we have a pretty good amount of diversity going there so far. Now, it's not perfect, nor would it meet the quota system, but it will be good because the people chose it themselves. Something about empowering leaders, right Lemler?

The other reasons I've been thinking about racism recently is a couple of comments I have heard, one on the radio and one in a phone call. I was listening to one of the Christian radio stations here in the Chicago area when their news program came on (usually this causes me to groan becuase they sight people like F. Graham and Falwell as authorities). They were giving a report on gang violence in the city and made the remark that "it was spreading to so many areas that even white suburban kids were getting caught up in it," [emphasis added]. Intentional or not, that remark is evidence of the deep seeded and insidiuos forms of racism still present in our society. Behind it is the assumption that gang violence is a minority problem only and that now that it is getting bad enough to effect white kids, perhaps we should do something about it.

The phone call was to a friend whom I know did not intend to make the remark they made. We were talking about a new group this person had joined and they mentioned to me that they were the only white person in the group, "but that they all were such good people." Unintentional as I'm sure this was, behind it is the assumption that in a room full of black people (as was the case) it needs to be specifically stated that they were good people because the inclination is to believe that they were not. This reminded me of a comment I made over the summer where I got caught doing the same thing. I was telling a story about a friend of mine from college, who is a black man. If I remember correctly, he stands about 12 feet tall and weighs about 600 pounds. After this reference to his size, I said, "but he's just a big teddy bear, really." Behind that remark of mine is the assumption that a black man of such significant stature surely can be be up to no good. Because my comment was related to his size rather than his melanin level, I should have said something like, "even though he's a big guy, he's just a big teddy bear," which may have helped to clarify my point. So, that's what I've been thinking about recently.

Also, hello to Randi!!!! Wow, so good to see you on the comments! What a pleasant surprise!


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Monday, October 04, 2004

Congratulations Due 

A hearty HUZZAH to my friend and professor who successfully sustained his dissertation this afternoon at Princeton. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Doctor Frank Yamada!!!!!!


[Later: How we found out -
Dr. Wondra: So then, special revelation is God's self-disclosure to individuals and communities who recorded it in the Bible. The Bible is the primary...this just in, Frank Yamada has sustained his dissertation.

(Lots of loud cheering carrying on for several minutes. Everyone comments. Cheers dies down, class gets ready to resume...)

Ryan: Wait, Dr. Wondra. How did you know that??? Did that just come to you or...

Dr. Wondra: Yes, that's an example of special revelation.

Ryan: That's amazing.

Dr. Wondra: Actually, Micah stuck a sign on the door's window, which you probably couldn't see.

Ryan: That's less amazing.]

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Remember how I mentioned that this weekend's Diocesan Convention was going to be lively? Yeah, well, it just got a lot more lively. I received word tonight that the Via Media group in my diocese is planning on calling for Bishop John's resignation at the convention. This is a group who, though cleverly naming themselves in the middle, are actually left of center theologically. You'll be hard pressed to find mention in their stated purpose/goals the issue of human sexuality or anything to do with Gene Robinson, but the group was formed in response to our Bishop's vote against Robinson at the 2003 General Convention. It was a way for people who supported Robinson's consecration to stand together in a diocese where they found more conservative winds blowing a bit too strongly for their theological weathervanes, which is all well and good to me; they certainly are welcome to do that. I support the clause in their mission statement that reads: "To move beyond threats of schism holding firm to the image of "one body in Christ"", but it seems to me that calling for their Bishop's resignation promotes a schism of a kind, rather than seeking to prevent one. This is all a big headache, and what's more, to make issues potentially more complicated, one of the big wigs in Via Media is the chairman of the Commission on Ministry. I don't know if any of this will directly affect me at all, but the possibility is there. I also heard that the Bishop will not be accepting their call, as well he shouldn't! Keeping in mind that at this point all this is heresay, I am still a bit worried about what is going to happen at Convention. Whatever your position on this issue, please offer prayers for reasoned, considered, compassionate debate; for the love of Christ to be primary; for an unfractured diocese in an already beat up SW Florida; and for peace.


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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Washington National Cathedral 

I got to spend a little time in Washington National Cathedral during my stay in DC. This is one of many pictures I took, but this one came out particularly well I thought. The cathedral was enormous and before seeing it I was truly unaware a structure like it existed in America. It was very reminiscent of cathedrals I've seen in Europe, but still very American in its own way. I attended two services there, Evening Prayer on Friday night and Holy Eucharist at the High Altar on Saturday afternoon. Both were lovely services. I don't know if they were well attended or not as any crowd less than 1000 persons I'm guessing looks sparse in this great hall. The outside grounds were equally as lovely as the inside and we had lunch out there one day, sitting on a wall looking up at the beautiful and grotesque stone gargoyles. If ever you get the chance to be in DC, do try and stop by the Cathedral - it's really something to see.


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1 Down, 2 to Go 

Trips in October, that is. Next weekend I'm headed home for my Diocesan Convention, which promises to be lively. Then, two weeks after that, I'm headed to SEATTLE - where I was assigned for my Plunge site. I'm pumped, because I've never been further West than St. Louis and Seattle is suppossed to be a cool city. I'm also glad that I'll be spending the two weeks with some good folks as your traveling partners really can make it or break it.

As for the conference this past weekend, it was good, but challenging and left a little to be desired at the end. We did not speak at all about the international context, which confused me and left a giant elephant in the room (Palestine/Israel). When the Anglican statement about possible divestment from Israel came out during the conference, written by one of the bishops organizing the conference, it pissed off some of the Jewish contingent who said they felt "betrayed". They left early before discussion could occur. That was disappointing, because we really needed to talk about this issue and clarify some points. But, if the Anglican Communion wants to divest from Israel, I stand behind them. It will send a strong message, long needed, to Israel to get their act together. Aside from that, I met lots of good people, as I'd mentioned before, including the new rector at St. Anne's Episcopal in Winston-Salem, NC, where I went to church for a year before our campus ministry got our act together to get a pianist. We chatted about all sorts of things and people we both knew. I sent regards with him to give to several parishoners and former professors of mine. Talking about future job possibilities, he said that all he would have to do to get me a job in the diocese is give my name to Bishop Curry. I said that I would love that but that I needed to serve in my home diocese for a few years first. Eventually, I do want to end back up in NC, and it now seems my networking capabilities will help that. It's nice to be wanted.

Tomorrow morning in Children's Chapel we're making clay necklaces with a mustard seed in them - I hope the kids like it as much as I'm looking forward to the idea!


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