Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005
"O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above. "
I found myself almost brought to tears each time I sang that verse. I am prone to wander, prone to wander daily and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. St. Paul got it right when he talked about doing the very things you don't want to do and not doing the very things you want to do. I guess the part that really gets me is the fact that Jesus, in His mercy, makes His grace new every day. To grace how great a debtor I am, indeed. Wow...that's really something, you know.
Then, at Canterbury tonight, Heather invited us to come forward to receive sacramental healing. This is also offered at Seabury, usually on a weekly basis, and sometimes I go and sometimes I don't. Tonight I felt led to approach the altar and receive the Sacrament. It was pretty moving. But, the more moving part came after I returned to my seat and knelt to pray. I got started praying and then I felt like I couldn't stop, it was weird. I prayed harder as I heard bursts of emotion come from the front, being washed away and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. People were made new tonight. People were refreshed and revitalized and resealed to the Holy Spirit. It was extremely powerful! At first I thought it seemed odd for that to happen at the end of a term, but then I thought again. No, how wonderful! Thank you Jesus for being with us and for healing us, and for renewing us each day. Do not let us be broken by the powers and principalities of this world God! Do not let us be broken!
"Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood."
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Friday, May 27, 2005
Best Paper in the Hebrew Scriptures: John H.
Church History: Laura G.
Theology and Society: Michelle B.
Contemporary Theology: Joyce B.
Collaborative Research Award: Marianna G.
Greatest Contribution to Liturgical Life: Susie S.
Cantor's Award: Susie S.
Best Lector: Judith B.
Best Preacher: Judith B.
Seabury-Western Prize for Outstanding Service to the Seminary: Mark M.
Staff Appreciation Award: Mark M.
Woman's Board Middler Award: Michelle B.
Woman's Board Award: Jami A.
Leadership Award: Jane C.
High Academic Achievement, Middler Class: Cliff H.
Top Academic, Middler Class: Michelle B.
High Academic Achievement, Senior Class: Jami A.
Top Academic Achievement, Senior Class: John H.
Much to my shock, I also received an academic award. I was the recipient of the "Hebrew Bible" Scholarship Award, given to the student who shows the greatest promise in mastering Hebrew as evidenced by coursework in the Elementary Hebrew class. I was stunned really - I didn't even know that was an award until this morning. I'd like to thank the Academy...
Then, over dinner, many hysterical and semi-serious awards were passed out by the comedic duo, Jeff and John. Again, I was shocked to receive an award this time from a fellow classmate - a perennial award called the 'Golden Spike'. This award is passed on to the rising Senior who demonstrates the deepest sense of Anglo-Catholicism. I am actually very honored to receive this award and will uphold it with dignity and grace. In receiving it, I certainly need to recognize some of my teachers, to whom the award could also have more than reasonably gone: Copeland and Mitch. Thanks for all you've taught me!
And that concludes Award's Night - a good time was had by all and more than a fair share of laughs were enjoyed.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Saturday I served as an usher for the Evanston Deanery Confirmation, which was held at St. Luke's. 88 persons were confirmed, received, or reaffirmed their baptismal vows and the Bishop laid hands on all of them. That was a looooooong confirmation service. Later that night I attended the 40th birthday party of a fellow seminarian, where a good time was had by all and cake was consumed.
Sunday I was a butt in a pew at St. Luke's for church in the morning, picked Dad up from the airport in the afternoon, went to Canterbury with him in the evening, and then had some drinks and desserts with friends in the late evening. Oh, and I turned 24 as well.
Monday, Dad and I saw Star Wars III, which was really good. I don't care what some people will say about it being cheesy - if you ask me, they're supposed to be so. This movie left me feeling really terrible though, the last few scenes were quite awful. Well done, but awful. The whole film was intense I thought.
Dad left this morning at 5:30am, so I got up to see him off and then instead of going back to bed, I made a large pot of coffee and did my Hebrew translation work that I had neglected during my birthday weekend and his visit. Now I am physically and mentally exhausted and ready for the final Idol contest tonight and then early to bed. I have nothing intellectual to say today. Well, some of you might think I don't ever, but, whatever...
Friday, May 20, 2005
P.S. I got a really nice compliment today in Hebrew class. We were talking about the Intermediate Hebrew course offerred at Garrett in the Fall and how everyone who takes it starts off on a wide spectrum of proficiency. But, by the end of it, all the students are pretty close to each other in a high degree of reading proficiency. The student that I pretty much consider to be the most advanced student in the class replied to this by saying, "Well, basically that just means we'll all catch up to Ryan." Wow! Kinda makes a fella feel good, even if he was just being kind. He really is the better Hebrew student.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Speaking of real world stuff, I am pleased to announce that I am now officially the field ed. seminarian at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston! I have been meeting with the priest-in-charge there a couple of times over the past few weeks and we have agreed that the partnership will be beneficial for both St. Luke's and myself. Yeah! First of all, I am excited to be there - it is a wonderful, progressive, Anglo-catholic parish with an interesting and colorful history that I look forward to learning more about. Second of all, I am relieved that I don't have to worry about getting a field ed. parish anymore! I officially begin there on June 19th and will be working there part-time throughout the summer. I think it's gonna be great!
Monday, May 16, 2005
Kyraiden: and while we're talking trips
Kyraiden: when do I need to reserve my futon for you for the summer? it's booking up fast
BrotherBeal: good ?
BrotherBeal: when is it free
Kyraiden: well see, that's the trouble
Kyraiden: all these people have said they're coming to visit and no one has given me any specific dates
BrotherBeal: maybe we should all come at the same time
BrotherBeal: we could put on a musical while touring chicago
Kyraiden: so I figure if more than one friend shows up at a time, they have to share the futon, and if its you and one of my beautiful female friends, why then, that just works out for you
Kyraiden: a musical? which one?
BrotherBeal: every musical needs a humorous yet seemingly impossible love interest to work out in the end
Kyraiden: that's very true
BrotherBeal: we'll call it Evanston
BrotherBeal: since "Chicago" was already taken
Kyraiden: Evanston: A Revue
Kyraiden: Or to invoke your favorite phrase - "Evanston in Red"
BrotherBeal: I like that
BrotherBeal: yeah - we need to have a seemingly impossible love interest to work
BrotherBeal: I can try to woo her with humorous yet ineffective techniques and then, finally, win her heart in a soapbox derby race down Sheridan Ave!
BrotherBeal: something is flowing through my veins here, Ryan - and it ain't just blood
BrotherBeal: I feel alive
Kyraiden: oh wow, now that's good
Kyraiden: a soapbox derby
Kyraiden: there also needs to be a conflict, so what is that going to be?
BrotherBeal: you can be the foil to my wacky antics
BrotherBeal: GOT IT
Kyraiden: I'll be called "Tin"
BrotherBeal: Old Man McGonnigal wants to buy up a coffee shop where you and the Seabury cats hang
BrotherBeal: Im included in the Seabury cats for plot purposes
Kyraiden: oh no he didn't!
Kyraiden: of course
BrotherBeal: we have to earn $5,000 to stop his plan and we've only got a week
Kyraiden: except we're Episcopalians, so it should be a bar
BrotherBeal: a bar
BrotherBeal: a bar that he wants to turn into a coffee shop
Kyraiden: this sounds suspiciously like a Saved by the Bell episode
Kyraiden: damn him
BrotherBeal: ohh something's flowing here, Ryan
BrotherBeal: so we need to earn money to stop MacGonnigal
Kyraiden: right, I'm with you
BrotherBeal: now we try all the usual antics - a car wash, a bake sale, etc.
Kyraiden: how does the soap box derby fit in? we sell tickets to it to earn money? can there be a race scene akin to Grease?
BrotherBeal: hang on
Kyraiden: a slave auction
BrotherBeal: I've got the threads to tie it together
BrotherBeal: no not a slave auction
Kyraiden: no, not a real one, like "Servant for the weekend" Auction
Kyraiden: oh boy
BrotherBeal: I'm rolling
BrotherBeal: I'm rolling
Kyraiden: seedy, you're increasing the rating of the musical here
BrotherBeal: you wanted a bar instead of a coffee shop
BrotherBeal: and a kissing booth is way too little rascals
Kyraiden: that's true
Kyraiden: you win
BrotherBeal: so this girl who my character has a thing for is going to put herself on the auction block
BrotherBeal: now I'm in a pickle
Kyraiden: cause you wanna buy her, but you can't afford to waste the money we need to save the bar
Kyraiden: there is a way to work in your Tae Kwon Do here I know it
BrotherBeal: AMUSING DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY
BrotherBeal: think West Side Story
BrotherBeal: with helmets and less leather
BrotherBeal: for the soapbox derby racing
BrotherBeal: you can't just throw safety out the window
BrotherBeal: there aren't even windows on those cars
Kyraiden: or roll cages
BrotherBeal: so I enter the race hoping to win enough money to buy the girl, but my conscience gets the better of me and when I win I donate it to the cause
BrotherBeal: and then PRESTO
Kyraiden: ooo...a noble selfless gesutre, winning her heart!
BrotherBeal: I get the girl
BrotherBeal: the bar is saved
BrotherBeal: we need to find a pond to dunk MacGonnigal in
Kyraiden: uhh...Lake Michigan?
BrotherBeal: and AKMA shows u
BrotherBeal: shows up
BrotherBeal: AKMA as MacGonnigal
Kyraiden: oh no!!!
BrotherBeal: odd casting decision
Kyraiden: he would want to turn a bar into a coffee shop!
BrotherBeal: that's what I'm thinking
Kyraiden: he drinks more coffee than the donkey on the folgers can
BrotherBeal: so you think he goes to those places for the atmosphere or for the coffee
BrotherBeal: cause I'm sure he frequents them
BrotherBeal: no doubt in my mind
Kyraiden: the coffee and the free WiFi I suspect
BrotherBeal: he does have a somewhat villanous look about him
BrotherBeal: the beard
BrotherBeal: the hats
BrotherBeal: you must always fear bearded, hat-wearing authority figures
Kyraiden: yeah, those hats...I can see a villian wearing them
Kyraiden: yes, but the man's a priest of the church for crying out loud
BrotherBeal: so was Martin Luther
BrotherBeal: he wore hats
Kyraiden: so the villanous aspect is just a facade that gets misunderstood?
Kyraiden: Luther wasn't a villan?
BrotherBeal: I don't know
BrotherBeal: I felt like saying something odd
Kyraiden: well you did it
Kyraiden: ok, back to the plot
Kyraiden: AKMA as MacGonnigal
BrotherBeal: does this work or should we get an unknown for the part
Kyraiden: you're the casting director!
BrotherBeal: I say we cast AKMA but we play down the villanous angle
Kyraiden: sounds more fair
BrotherBeal: and, before the dunking, we have a scene where AKMA, the champion of postmodernism and tolerance, realizes that Episcopalians can hang out in bars just as well as in coffee shops
Kyraiden: we can play up the misperception misrepresentation scheme - that kinda stuff is his flava'
Kyraiden: oh, that's wonderful! bravo!
BrotherBeal: he still has to get dunked in Lake Michigan
Kyraiden: and perhaps that bars should also offer free WiFi
Kyraiden: well it's like a baptismal scene...
BrotherBeal: only humorous and with better music
Kyraiden: by the way, are you sober? and may I have your permission to post this conversation as tonight's blog entry? I want to post it and call it, "An Entirely Sober Conversation Between Two Friends"
Kyraiden: we need a few song titles...
BrotherBeal: did you actually have titles?
Kyraiden: not off the top of my head
Kyraiden: but we'll need them - it is a musical after all
BrotherBeal: oh - I thought you had some
Kyraiden: lets see - the overture could be called, "Saints in a Bottle"
BrotherBeal: how about "Decaffinated Saviour"
BrotherBeal: tha's good
Kyraiden: thats definitley a track title, but perhaps not the overture
BrotherBeal: I like saints in a bottle for the overture
Kyraiden: Decaf Sav. needs to be the song that introduces the conflict
Kyraiden: when your humorous, somewhat impossible love interest is introduced, we'll sing, "The Story of Beal, part 2" - part 2 because that hints at something that came before but the audience doesn't know, lending an air of historicity to your character
BrotherBeal: that is good
BrotherBeal: folks will clamor for the prequel
Kyraiden: they totally will!
Kyraiden: we need a silly bar song too
Kyraiden: to show the fun side of things
Kyraiden: "All Hail the Power of Guinness' Name"
BrotherBeal: that works in a hymnal title too
BrotherBeal: I like it
BrotherBeal: I think we're on to something here, Ryan
Kyraiden: we definitely are
Kyraiden: what'll be the protistution song?
Kyraiden: ah, the Title track - "Evanston in Red"
BrotherBeal: I was just thinking that
Kyraiden: and for a soap box derby song, something fast paced....
BrotherBeal: "Sheridan Shuffle"
Kyraiden: The Sheridan Shuffle!
BrotherBeal: that could have some crazy choreography
Kyraiden: well, especially when dealing with Soap Box Cars
BrotherBeal: I suppose I'll have to reestablish ties with Stephanie - I don't know anyone else who can choreograph
Kyraiden: I'm envisioning something that might be seen at any Busch Gardens bumper cars alley
Kyraiden: we can get Stephanie involved
Kyraiden: I've kept up with her
BrotherBeal: ok good cause I never did
Kyraiden: ok, we need pre-dunking track, a "realization" solo by AKMA, and a ensemble piece that gets across the the grand reconnection
Kyraiden: pre-dunking, should be angry and righteous sounding
BrotherBeal: righteous - us righteous or AKMA righteous
Kyraiden: us righteous against him
Kyraiden: we still think MacGonnigal's the bad guy
BrotherBeal: "Smite makes right?"
Kyraiden: but then he gets dunked, re-born if you will, and sings the touching, heart-warming, solo
Kyraiden: Smite Makes Right it is!
Kyraiden: to be quickly followed by a heavy drum roll and cymbal crash
BrotherBeal: probably AKMA's solo should be "Reborn All Over Again"
Kyraiden: and then the solo piece
Kyraiden: yes, but can we condense that title?
BrotherBeal: "Reborn Again"
BrotherBeal: playing up the baptism theme
BrotherBeal: since he's a priest he's been baptized before, but this one sticks
BrotherBeal: we can add a lyric about being baptized with fire water
Kyraiden: sounds like a plan
Kyraiden: and the vast ensemble piece to close it out - this is the big one now...
Kyraiden: "You, Me, WiFi, and the Bottle Make Four"?
Kyraiden: that doesn't rhyme
Kyraiden: "Evanston Together Again"?
BrotherBeal: works but it needs a catchy pun
Kyraiden: I'm drawing a blank
BrotherBeal: how about "These Writers Sure Can Stretch"
Kyraiden: help me out with that one...
BrotherBeal: maybe "It's Over - Where's The Beer?"
Kyraiden: now that's a closing song title!!
Kyraiden: a free beer available in the lobby for all guests over 21+
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Psalm 17:8 is the source of the V. and R. from Compline and is a prayer for protection from persecutors. Psalm 18:10 revisits the same imagery as 2 Samuel, so now we're two and two. Two images of God with wings and two images of God using the wings of another creature for transportation. Psalms 57:1, 61:4, 63:7 are like Psalm 17:8, and we're back to hiding under God's wings, though 63:7 seems to be a joyful image whereas the others are images of defense, indicating fear. Throughout the rest of the Psalms we go back and forth between the image of God with wings and God using the wings of a cherub - 91:4, 104:3.
Throughout Isaiah and Jeremiah there are a few images of wings, but none relate to God directly. They are used as a metaphor for kings and armies - "For thus says the Lord: Look, he shall swoop down like an eagle, and spread his wings against Moab," (Jer 48:40). Here Jeremiah is prophesying about the "destroyer of Moab", but it seems clear that though God is the force controling the destroyer, the destroyer will be a temporal force.
Ezekiel's image of God has wings all over it! Just read the first chapter of the book and you'll come up with lots of wings, with no clear idea of to whom they belong. God? Angels? Are they the same thing, though appearing as many parts? Weird. Throughout Ezekiel, the wings of the cherubs seem to be protecting the mortal from the visage behind them. The face of God maybe?
In the NT, Jesus talks about God/himself as being like a hen who gathers her chicks under its wings (Mt 23:37, Lu 13:34). And then the only other mention of wings is in the Apocalypse. So, this image of God with wings seems to be a primarily Hebrew image. How can we then say we are in the image of God? Where are our wings? I think what's going on here has to do with a total "otherness" of God. Yeah, we're like God, but we're so finite! We can never be more like God than we already are, and that's both closer than anything else on earth and pretty far away from the original. Think Aristotle's "pure" and "separation of-" Forms.
Briefly, God's nostrils also seem to be dragon-like, rather than human-like. Ex 15:8 is one example. The length of God's nostrils has a cooling effect on his wrath against us. So, we should be thankful for that!
So, God is no longer an old guy in a nightshirt, but rather appears to be a chicken-dragon man. Oh no...God is Trogdor!
In all seriousness - this is some pretty wierd stuff and deserves some more thinking, but I've exhausted my thinking quotient for this reading week day. I'm going to the Sox/Orioles game...
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
I let her use my phone to call the landlord, but to no avail. There was no answer and the voicemail system with the emergency number was not picking up. I asked if she had a spare set of keys she had maybe given to a friend and it turned out she had. But, she could not recall the friend's phone number, because, like so many of us this day and age, the number was stored in a cell phone. I asked if her friend had a land line as well as a cell and she said she thought so. We got the phone book down, but again, to no avail. Calling herself "bonehead" again she declared to me that the friend had recently gotten married and moved. Assuring her she was not a bonehead, that we all lock ourselves out of our apartment every once in a while, I told her we were not yet out of options.
As an emergency room chaplain last summer I spent a lot of time tracking people down. Unconscious patients would come in and I would have to find their next of kin or a friend or anyone who knew them sometimes, so I learned a few tricks of the trade on locating persons. I got online and began running some searches through Anywho. I tried the friend's maiden name, married name, husband's name, street name and came up empty. Not to worry - 411 might be able to assist. I called them and after running through some options with them finallly struck gold with husband's name and street name. My neighbor called, got in touch, and made arrangements for the friend to run up here from Andersonville with the keys.
The time was then 8:10pm. I looked at my neighbor and said, "Now that that's settled, I hope you don't mind but I have to turn on American Idol to see who is going home tonight."
"Oh my gosh, yes, please!" came the reply.
The friend arrived after Idol was over, all was well, and I settled down to watch a movie that almost made me physically ill. I got it cause it looked interesting and it took place just around the corner practically, in the film's namesake, Wicker Park. It was too weird for even me, and I hated it. It made me feel dirty and gross, and quite frankly, for lack of a better word, it gave me the heebie-geebies. Still, I give it two stars just for sticking with the complications of life and not simplifying things for the sake of the medium.
"What that lacked was soul. It was a bit like watching Woody Allen trying to play Shaft..."
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I have a whole line of beverages at my disposal and I relish in it. Tonight, for example, I had a Seabreeze as a pre-dinner cocktail. With my dinner I had some plain cranberry juice. Then, later tonight, as sort of a dessert drink, I enjoyed a childhood favorite, Sunkist. At any given time I have a pitcher of sweet tea or lemonade or Krystal Light in my fridge, along with a Brita filter water pitcher, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice. Several kinds of sodas adorn my refrigerator shelves: Coca-Cola Classic, 7-Up, Diet Coke (for guests), Ginger Ale, and as of today, the aforementioned Sunkist.
And lets not forget the adults only section. 2 MGD's are left waiting for the right occasion in the fridge. On the shelf are a variety of fine single malt Scotch Whiskys, including but not limited to the Glenlivet, the Cragganmore, and the Balvenie Doublewood. Down below you'll find the house vodka, gin, two kinds of rum, tequila, triple sec, peach schnapps, cognac, and some vermouth.
In the kitchen stands ready for daily use the Folger's can - Classic brew. I also have some Israeli coffee, heavy with cardamon and some decaf. Of teas there are many, a sampling of which includes darjeeling, earl grey, genmai cha pop, green pekoe, peppermint (regular and nana (Israeli)), chamomile, and hojicha.
I never really thought about it until that person asked if I just drink everything instead of eat, but, as I've discovered, I am quite the enjoyer of myraid beverages. All for just the right time, with just the right people, in just the right place.
Damn, the bachelor life is good!
More serious topics I've been thinking about to come: anthropomorphism of God(?). Field-ed. How I can justify getting D&D Online when it comes out later this year.
Monday, May 09, 2005
All you future/potential postulants/seminarians out there: KEEP A COPY OF ALL YOUR PAPERWORK. IF IT COMES FROM YOUR DIOCESEAN OFFICE OR YOU SEND IT TO THE DIOCESEAN OFFICE OR IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR PROCESS - KEEP IT!!!
Sleeping late Saturday morning...not as late as some, but late enough for me...drinking coffee, lazing around, and reading Dostoevsky until half past noon...
(Interlude: Cleaning house...making it presentable)
Entertaining Saturday night...an amazing, deep conversation...unexpectedly giving a gift...wondering if I'm on the cusp of something...Braves won...oh, and the fried chicken...
Singing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" as the processional this morning...hearing Jim Lemler preach again...sometimes you just really need to hear "blah blah blah love"...talking to Mom, telling her I love her...watching an old favorite movie this afternoon...Hecky's BBQ at Canterbury tonight...hope for a friend's future...getting to know a classmate a little bit more on a pleasant walk back...talking to Grandma, telling her I love her...Happy Mother's Day...
Saturday, May 07, 2005
On the better (batter?) side of things, I batted 5 for 6 (.833) in the season - and the sixth at bat, which produced the out, was immediately after I got wallopped today, so I figure that's ok. I had four singles and one double, two RBI's, and one run scored.
The Braves won today, which was great, but the Cubs lost in the top of the ninth on the world's stupidest error. It was painful to watch and I was already watching it with an ice pack on my face! Hung out with friends tonigh, but am turning in early because I hurt and I am tired. Tomorrow I am not doing a damn thing until the evening. Reading Week is next week, and I have relatively little to do for that. Some Hebrew homework and catching up on a bunch of diocesean paperwork. Now, to bed...where there is no pain...
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
¶ 1) St. Anthony of the Desert is an older, urban parish in a middle-class, changing neighborhood. They are a predominantly Caucasian congregation, liturgically traditional, with an average Sunday attendance of around 250 people. They once were larger, and want to be so again; the fluctuations in the surrounding community haveheightened the level of anxiety related to the declining status. The Rev. Timothy Barstow, a man in his late 40’s, has been at St. A’s for almost 5 years. However, this is not Tim’s first congregation; he’s an experienced parish priest, having been active in parish ministry for nearly 20 years. A graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, he is pleasant, albeit rather passive and indirect. He likes to be liked, and is disinclined to initiate something about which he might catch some flack. His rather laid-back leadership style has seemed to fit well in the parish, given its history of strong layleadership.
¶ 2) A survey was distributed throughout the congregation by the Membership Committee to find out what parishioners believe their life in community could use. The results showed a great desire in the congregation for “More Spirituality.” In response, the Vestry hired a group of church consultants to come lead some spiritual exercises andto plan a series of parish retreats. The choice of this group, “Fruits of the Spirit,” had been suggested by a member of the parish. He had heard about their programs from a friend, a priest in Pennsylvania whose church had used them. That church had experimented with various approaches suggested by the consultants and is now experiencing new and rapid growth.
¶ 3) “Fruits of the Spirit” – an ecumenical, non-denominational group, sent along some literature to show some of the sorts of programs they offered. Some of the material they provided was distinctly Christian in nature, drawing directly from the Bible and from orthodox Christian traditions. Other material, however, was not. For example, one of the controversial meditations focused on the Tao Te Ching, chapter 11:
We join spokes together in a wheel/but it is the center hole/that makes the wagon move./We shape clay into a pot,/But it is the emptiness inside/That holds whatever we want./We hammer wood for a house,/But it is the inner space/That makes it livable./We work with being,/But non-being is what we use.
Another retreat schedule was based on Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” while a third controversial exercise made reference to “Mother Goddess” and the “Universal Divine” when referring to God.
¶ 4) Upon hearing about this the congregation went into an uproar, heavily divided over whether the program should be employed. The main person speaking up in support of using the program is Gloria Johnson: a long-time, committed member of the parish, well-liked and respected, presently serving as head of the Altar Guild. She is a woman in her late 50’s, and some of the spirituality approaches suggested by “Fruits of the Spirit” hearken back to her young adult years in the 1960’s. She maintains that “God can’t be confined. Maybe there are more ways to hear the Spirit at work in our lives than intraditional Christian spirituality. We asked for more spirituality and we’ve got the opportunity for it in this program, so why are you complaining? Besides,” she adds, “no one has to participate. Why not let those who want to, give it a try?” Gloria has significant support from the older, long-time members and she’s not afraid to call in somefavors. She is one of the major pledge contributors, and has been dropping little hints to the rector that she may need to leave the parish if things don’t go her way.
¶ 5) Leading the opposition to the program is the Youth Director, a laywoman in her late 20’s named Jessica Garcia. She has a Master’s degree in youth ministry from Wheaton College and several years previous work experience. She was hired by the parish just last year, in the hopes that strengthening the youth program will help revitalizeand grow the parish. In the short time she’s been there, she has come to be seen as integral to the life of the parish. She is well-liked and supported by many in the community, whether or not they have direct connections to the youth ministry in the church. One of her primary concerns is spiritual formation. “Youth group,” she has saidrepeatedly, “needs to be about more than keeping the kids busy and off the streets!”
¶ 6) Jess is incensed by the prospect of pagan practices leading people (especially impressionable teens) astray from the faith. “This stuff isn’t Christian!” she fumes, “and we cannot allow it in our church!” She has attempted to rally parishioners to support her point of view. Last week she escorted some representatives from the youth group to thevestry meeting to voice their opposition, pointing out that the teens were not merely “the future of the church,” but also the present, and need to be heard. Unfortunately, this action only served to make things more contentious. Gloria was especially irritated. “Teens,” she said, “are not equipped to make important decisions like this, discerning what is good for the members of this church and what is not.” Of course, comments like this only served to dig in the teen’s heels, insulted about the inference that they’re not mature enough, and act in support of the Youth leader even though they don’t all necessarily think the Fruits of the Spirit is a good thing.
¶ 7) Privately, Tim supports the idea of introducing new approaches to developing spirituality; but he is unsure how far afield they may appropriately venture. Additionally, he’s reluctant to take a public stand, both because he’s afraid to lose the youth director, whose ministry is seen as vital to the future of the church, and because he does not want to offend the established core of the parish. How would you approach this issue?
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Monday, May 02, 2005
I found a decent radio station in my home town that played this genre of music and have unashamedly listened to it or a similar radio station as my primary radio entertainment ever since. Now, I also listen to the rock station, the classic rock station, the country station, and NPR. But, chances are, if you get in my car at any random moment, the radio will be tuned to the CCM station. I listen to it primarily as radio entertainment and not to derive any profound grace or theology from it, though sometimes that happens as a bonus. Yes, it is true, some bands have bad theology, some have cheesy lyrics, and some have a downright awful sound - but so do "secular" bands. And speaking of "secular" bands, I once heard or read somewhere that "there is no such thing as secular music, but only secular lyrics." I like that idea. Music is a gift from God, and when we use it, we give praise to God, the gift-giver whether or not we intended to or not. I like to think that, like a parent, He looks down and grins when He sees us doing things He taught us, even if we don't get it quite "right" all the time.
As far as the place of CCM in the liturgy, I've seen it done well (with a pretty standard '79 BCP Rite II, Prayer A Eucharist service too!) and I've seen it done bad. The last priest's ordination I went to featured almost solely CCM and "praise" music and it was incredibly moving. The danger, as always with performance in liturgy, is that it becomes more about the performance than about God. Sometimes this is an easier trap to fall into for a CCM band than a more traditional church choir, but not always.
Listening to CCM reinforces and informs my faith in a different way than reading theology, attending worship, or discussing my faith in class (as if that's a common occurrence at seminary). I've found myself so touched by some songs sometimes that I've had to pull my car off the road - the last time that happened was several years ago, but I still remember the song, "King of the Hill" by Eli. Sometimes there is nothing better than rolling down the windows, cranking up the volume, and singing as loud as I can my favorite CCM song. It's praise and I love to praise! Like any music, as I've said, there are good bands and bad ones, and you'll find all of them mixed together on the radio. (My two favorite examples right now are a lyric from a Todd Agnew song that says, "It's cold outside/or is that just the chill I feel inside," - ok man, that's just cheesy. Second, a song by an artist I can't remember who sings about "My Adonai", which, if you translate the Hebrew word there and re-insert it into the song has the song saying, "my my lord". To make it work, this artist really wanted the word "adon", but its not as easily recognizable, but that's no excuse for abusing language.) But, right off the top of my head, I can name seven that have their hearts in the right place, their theology well thought out and informed, and with excellent sounds. I'll list a particularly good song beside each that highlights the band's ability to combine the above characteristics. These artists are genuine Christians, struggling with their faith just like you and I. Their songs are not doctrinal statements, but their prayers, their hopes, their experiences, and their fears. And they should be taken as such, since they have been given a gift by God to share with us.
Jars of Clay - "World's Apart"
Third Day - "Thief"
Chris Rice - "The Other Side of the Radio"
Ginny Owens - "If You Want Me To"
Chi Rho - "Free"
Casting Crowns - "Voice of Truth"
Mark Schultz - "You Are a Child of Mine"
Sure, it's not a good idea to get all your "religion" from CCM, nor from any one source, but if it is a way that can reach someone who might not go to church, then I'm for it. God can work and has worked through this, and will continue to do so. If you don't like CCM, that's fine. You're neither a bad Christian nor a crazy idiot. But it is perhaps a misstep to demand that CCM artists be theological experts or degree holders any more than the rest of us and it is definitely a misstep to declare all the saints "meekrats" as a commenter over at the Archer's post recently did. They don't claim to be priests, but you're mistaken if you don't think they are ministers. And ministers don't get it right all the time. That's why there is forgiveness and that's why God gave us all the ability to do theology (talk about God) and reason things out, to a degree, for ourselves.
Well, this led me to a new idea, which may develop into a new calling.
Ryan R. Whitley: Atlanta Braves Chaplain.
I could get a place in Atlanta, travel with the team on road trips, I'd of course have a uniform and be present in the dugout, could hold Mass in a home church in Atlanta and have a traveling altar at which to say Mass while on the road, and just generally be the spiritual counsel for the team. I think if I contact John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox now, something will be able to be worked out by the time I'm ordained...wow...the possibilities...
Sunday, May 01, 2005
The Peace of the Risen Christ be with you, now and always.
Girl 2: "Hell yes! He's fine! But, he's gay..."
Girl 1: "I know!"
Guy 1: "He's not that fine."
Girl 2: "That's my problem - I meet all these fine guys and they're all gay!"
Guy 1: "I'm homo."
Girl 1: "We know."
Girl 2: "Why can't I meet any fine, straight guys?"
Me: "Pardon me. I have to ask a question here. You wanna meet a straight guy, yet you hang out with gay guys all the times."
3 Gay Guys at once: "Yep!"
Girl 2: "I know! I can't meet any straight men!"
Me: "Well...this is funny...maybe you should hang out where straight guys hang out, if you want to meet straight guys."
Guy 3: "Are you straight?"
Guy 3: "Damn. Well if you ever want to experiment...(points to Guy 2)...he's available."
Me: "I'll keep that in mind, I guess."
Girl 2: "I still can't meet any straight guys!"
Me: (extends hand) Hi, nice to meet you."
Girl 2: "Nice to meet you too..."
Train: "This is Loyola."
Group: "This is our stop. Gotta go." (they exit)
Random Guy: "Always entertaining...drunk people."
Me: "Yep, just like Cosby said, they put a show in every car."
Random Guy: "She's confused, that's her problem."
Me: "Yep. Definitely confused."
Random Guy: "She'll figure it out though...or she'll just be frustrated for a long time..."
Train: "This is Jarvis."
Man: "I told you nooooo! I said no!!! no! no! no!!!!"
Man 2: "Oh boy. Here we go."
Man 2: "I'm glad I haven't lost my mind. Close, but not yet."
Me: "Well, there's something anyway."
Man 1: "Noooo! Noooo! I said no! I don't....I can't... nooooo!" (shaking hands in the air furiously)
Me: "It's sad , really."
Man 2: "Yeah, but at least he can ride the train. The train doesn't discriminate."
Guy 2: "You want some wine?"
Random Guy: "I don't have a cup."
Guy 2: "Here, I have an extra. (pulls a sleve of styrofoam cups out of his bag)
Random Guy: "Man comes prepared."
Girl 2: "That's my wine."
Guy 1: "You haven't drank your glass yet."
Girl 2: "Oh yeah."
Random Guy: "Thanks."
(time passes, group gets off train)
Random Guy: (sipping wine) "This tastes like shit."
Random Guy 2: "Well, it was free wine from drunk college kids. What do you expect? Plus, it's white wine..."