"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

31 December 2008

To me, the neatly planted rows of trees, each one right next to a formerly neatly planted stump, making a pathway to nothing in particular, seems to be ultimately pictoral mediatation on Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 (vanity of vanities).

Optimism (moved)

It occurred to me today that there is a strange optimism about graveyards. Putting up a monument, no matter how small, requires the fundamental belief that there will be another generation to come and see. Engraving a name, a date, a few words of description demand that we acknowledge that a single person made a difference, no matter who may remember him. The inscriptions assume that someone will want to know who lies here. None of these things are for the dead. Their bodies decay and they will one day be resurrected, re-made incorruptable. Cemetaries are not about who is buried there, but who walks among the stones; they are not about who has gone before but about who is yet to come. But perhaps, the past and the future are not so separable as one might think.

(For the curious, this is a snap of St. Matthew's burying grounds, Baden, PA.)

27 December 2008

The Day after Christmas (moved)

The Day after Christmas (Okay, really the second day of Christmas)

'Twas the day after Christmas
And all through the house,
Every creature was stirring
Except me and my spouse.
The stockings no more by the chimney, beware,
meant chocolate for breakfast for that boy with red hair.

The children arouse with great glee from their beds
to play with their goodies while I rested my head,
One boy on the computer,
and one sprawled 'cross the floor
laying out circuits,
while mom and dad snore.

When out from the hall there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
The toddler arisen had made off with wires
young electrician screamed, as if there were fires.

The battles beginning: "He's touching my stuff!"
"Can I play with that?" "Oh you've had enough!"
More rapid than eagles indeed the noise came
As they whistled, and shouted, called each other names.

Now mamma, now daddy, now parents come here!
My wiring is missing, it's the toddler I fear.
Then off ran the toddler as quick as a flash,
He climbed up the steps and made off in a dash.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the top bunk, the toddler, he flew
and middle child shouts, "that's mine! Not for you!"

And then in a twinkling, I heard down the stair,
the clicking and typing away without care,
Eldest boy on the computer intently did play,
His favorite new game, the day wasting away.

He was still in his PJ's from his head to his feet,
and he defeated the bad guys, oh boy what a treat!
A bundle of toys lay flung 'cross the floor
And I waded my way to the computer room door.

But his eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!
He conquered space pirates, those bad-guys so scary.
His sweet little face beamed with a fresh glow
"Mama! watch this! It's such a great show!"

A screech from the next room, the circuits, are grand
A fresh-made radio, he holds in his hand.
Then a splatter, a spill. I quick turn around,
And the toddler has poured his fresh milk to the ground.

I cleaned up the mess, just as quick as a flash,
but the next thing I knew, the boy'd made off in a dash.
wet pants and all, to avoid a clean-up
"I wan' wear train pj's all day until sup."

They spoke not a word, each went straight to his work
His circuits, his games, his trucks and damp shirt.
And laying a finger up high in his nose,
the youngest at least, had not slugged his big bro's.

And husband at work, with no school for the boys,
I'm left home alone to deal with the noise,
but to each little boy, with their eyes shining bright,
I love you the best. But early bedtime tonight.

26 December 2008

My most unusual Christmas gift (moved)

I have a dear friend, who over the years has come to know most of my quirks and still seems to love me anyway, who has two cats. I'm allergic to them. I'm really not all that fond of cats by nature... my mother hates them (she doesn't even like it when cats meander through her yard). I don't hate cats, but I don't really bond with them either. Big fat fluffy cats with long fur are the closest I get to actually liking cats. In fact, there was once a cat named Motor who I referred to as the only cat I ever truly liked.

My friend knows I'm allergic to cats. She reminds me when I'm visiting her to take my Claritin first. She's a neat friend. Her cats hide from me, a reasonable truce.

What my friend may not know is that I love the big cats... those astonishing combinations of elegance and power... lions, leopards, panthers and tigers. I love to visit them in zoos. The way they move, the sleek of their fur, the subtle motion that says "I could take you down right now, if I felt like it, but instead, I think I'll just move over here where it's sunny and wait." They do wait. I don't know for what. Perhaps they understand that there is much worth waiting for. Perhaps they're just waiting for a tasty photographer to come along.

And nobody expects me to pet and get cuddly with their big cat. I don't have to get close enough to them to find out if they make my eyes water and itch. Nobody calls a lion fluffy and thinks that I should adore the cutsie way he catches mice (and men).

My friend definitely gave me one of the most interesting and unusual gifts I got this year. She gave me a snow leopard. Yes, my own personal snow leopard. Its out there somewhere, though she doesn't expect me to feed or pet it. I never have to take it to the groomer's either, which would be quite an expense, no doubt. I don't have to board it (yikes) or changes its litter box (double yikes). But I have my own real snow leopard.

Snow leopards are from Asia, like my favorite three year old. Maybe my snow leopard is also three years old.

My snow leopard comes with a little stuffed snow leopard. An exquisitely soft stuffed animal. It just so happened that the stuffed variety was liberated (in an environmentally conscious way that inovlved opening the bag and saving it for next Christmas because I'm too environmentally conscious (actually, the word is cheap) to throw nice bags away and buy new) from its gift bag right after a Disney stuffed animal, Po, the Kung-Fu Panda. My three year old Asian prince in exile loves Kung Fu Panda... now he had the hero, but who was the hero to fight? Well, it just so happens that the bad guy in the movie is a rather elegant snow leopard. A little brown hand shot out, and my stuffed snow leopard became Tai-Lung, Little guy's new cuddly buddy. (He does love it, too, though he's already had a good tussle between "Tai Lung" and Po. Tai-Lung won that round and "Guished" (Squished) Po by sitting on him.) Since she's one of his godmothers, I don't think my friend would mind that he claimed my gift.

But I stil have my real snow leopard. I do not have yet another random thing that I don't need. I am not depressed (random useless stuff depresses me). And whenever I want, I can borrow Tai-Lung for a very un-Kung-Fu-bad-guy-like squeeze. And out there somewhere is my real snow leopard, who I think I shall call Fluffy.

Merry Christmas.
And thanks, Ann.

25 December 2008

Christmas!!! (moved)


Today I learned that there is nothing (absolutely nothing) better than working alongside my eleven year old son to serve lunch to the needy on Christmas Day. Christmas, for once, was really Christmas. A big thank you to the good folks at the Church of the Atonement, in Carnegie PA for giving us the chance to have fun and make a little bit of a difference for Christ's sake.
There he is... my salad boy.

21 December 2008

O Holy Night (moved)

I am psyched about Christmas this year. I don't really know what makes this year different from every other year, but I'm getting a big kick out of lighting each successive Advent candle. I guess it is in part due to the fact that my kids are excited... all three of them, though the eldest plays it sort of cool. I know they're excited about presents, they're kids. But I think there's more magic in their excitement than there is for things like birthdays, it can't just be about presents.

I'm excited because we're helping serve lunch to those in need or alone for the holiday in a nearby town. We'll get up, have stockings, go to Mass, serve lunch, come home and have the afternoon for presents and fun and perhaps our own family Christmas meal. What an opporunity this is for us, as a family, to be able to serve Christmas dinner! What an opportunity for my kids to delay the presents for a couple of hours and give instead. Isn't that what Christmas is about, incarnation and incarnational ministry?

I think it's hard for people to see, but it's true, ministries to those in need are even more a ministry to those who have and are willing to give. Some folks in Carnegie might take away a good feeling and a belly full of food, but my family will benefit more, my kids will be given the chance to learn a lesson that lasts a lifetime. What a cool thing.

I hear a lot of people make the excuse that "I have kids at home" as an excuse not to serve in things like this on Christmas Day. But that's all backwards. Having kids and family is the best reason I know to come on down and serve lunch. Anyone want to join us? We'll be at Atonement in Carnegie from 10 am until about 1 pm. Come on down!

28 November 2008

Anglican Mainstream reports: "The Archbishop of Jos, Rt Rev Ben Kwashi, reports that following peaceful elections whose results have not yet been announced, at 2 a.m. this morning crowds of Muslims burnt Trinity Church, Bauchi Road, Jos, and then moved in to Jos itself macheteing people. He reports that Christians are clearly the targets of the violence."

I think it is difficult for Christians, especially comfortable Western Christians, to realize that persecution for our faith is not something that happened once a long time ago, that it's ongoing. Every continent of the planet has a story of such hatred and violence. People still die for the Christian faith in the Middle East, North Korea, many parts of Africa, every day even in this modern age. And persecution is not just a phase that a region goes through and grows out of, as if, once it's happened here or there, it can't happen again. We don't culturally evolve past these things. These things are the product of sin, of hatred for the Gospel, and this side of paradise, we shall not outgrow an attraction to sin.

But there is good news here too. People die for the faith because they know the faith is worth dying for. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth living for if it's not also worth dying for. Comfortable Westernized Christians don't understand that either. We don't understand how to submit to a seemingly unscientific book, a dusty rule book from ages ago, we can't fathom living for it. What that reveals is that we really can't fathom dying for it.

But our African brothers get it! We don't understand why the African church is so conservative on so many of our hot-button issues, but that's because we don't know their story. How, in their eyes, can we call ourselves Christian and say that homosexuality is acceptable behavior? After all, in their not so distant history, thirty two young boys were martyred because they had become Christians, Christianity had taught them that homosexual behavior was wrong, and the king was a homosexual who wanted to have a relationship with them. In faith they refused. They submitted to the mandates of only one king and were willing to die for their faith. And they were martyred for what they lived for.

The Christians of Jos have suffered frequently and bravely at the hands of mostly Muslim persecutors. The bishop himself has had attempts on his life. Bravely they remain steadfast. They share the Gospel unashamedly with others while Westerners lower their eyes and shuffle their feet, ashamed.

Since I quoted the bishop of Jos so recently below, scroll down, re-read his words. I am thankful for his ministry and I bid your prayers for bishop Kwashi and his people.

21 November 2008

Blame Game (moved)

"A little less "I'm Lovin' It" could put a significant dent in the problem of childhood obesity, suggests a new study that attempts to measure the effect of TV fast-food ads.

A ban on such commercials would reduce the number of obese young children by 18 percent, and the number of obese older kids by 14 percent, researchers found.

They also suggested that ending an advertising expense tax deduction for fast-food restaurants could mean a slight reduction in childhood obesity.

Some experts say it's the first national study to show fast-food TV commercials have such a large effect on childhood obesity. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report suggested a link, but concluded proof was lacking. "
The rest can be found here.

I had no idea! I'm shocked!!! All these years I thought it was the parents who were responsible for their kids being unhealthy. No, really it's the commercials' fault. Yup. Kids watch those commercials and then they just can't resist getting in the car and driving themselves to Mickey-D's and grabbing a bucket o' fries and sticking their innocent little heads right in until they've licked up the very last smattering of salt and grease.

Get a clue America. The single sole responsibility belongs to the parents. The parents are the ones who let their kids glut on TV in the first place. Invite that box into your house, don't monitor the content, leave little darling on his rear for hours on end (because hey, he's quiet that way) and what do you get... children who watch "tens of thousands" of fast food commercials, yeah, sure. Kids who are learning that sedentary spread is a way of life, yeah, even more sure.

It's the single sole responsibility of mom and dad who actually let junior get away with the whining fit if he doesn't get what he wants, who drive little darling to Taco Hell for another rolled up tortillia of greasy slime because the little chihuahua dog said to.

But no, we'll blame it on the commercials themselves. Absolve the ones really responsible for letting that garbage into their homes. Absolve the ones who control the wallet and car keys. Absolve the ones with a God-given duty to protect young minds. Absolve the ones who obey the commercials and infomercials call to buy, buy, buy while turning themselves and their offspring into mindless automatons. Fat, dumb and happy, America!

Instead, let's sue the providers of the garbage we willingly and mindlessly buy! Let's inivte government control over our companies and eventually over our very selves, even what we eat, because we're not adult enough to make those choices ourselves.

Forget 'the devil made me do it." The Gen X-Y excuse is now "the TV made me do it."

17 November 2008

A Fitting Tribute (moved)

Today the church said fare well to one of its finest priests, a parish grandfather, and a gentle sweet man. It was time, in so many ways. His body had so long been frail. His mind was beginning to slip. I recall, several years ago, when he commented that he no longer celebrated the Eucharist because he did not feel he had enough control over his failing body to rely on himself to do the service with dignity and right order. Of course, he would have done just fine, but he wasn't interested in fine, he wanted to render the very best to his lord and savior. And perhaps I heard a little pride in that voice that day, he didn't want to be a dottering old priest, after all.

I always watched him when I preached. He was a touch hard of hearing and would cup his hand to his ear and strain to catch the words. I knew I was doing well if he leaned forward, really well if he looked as if he'd topple from his seat. Such a visual listener is a valuable sermon barometer and I always treasured his face in a congregation. Whenever I saw him he always had a kind word, he'd take my hands in his as he spoke to me. Though so many people seem to turn up their own volume when their hearing goes, I never heard him speak harshly, either in tone or in the words themselves; only a broad smile and a gentle laugh and a few good words. He never sought to be the center of attention, but you could never fail to notice that he was there.

Just a year shy of six decades as a priest, Father Don Gross was also a healer of souls. A psychologist in the other half of his ministry, he was a remover of spiritual obstacles, bringing people back to right relationship. And thus it was a fitting tribute that there were cherished brothers there who represent both sides of the current and currently very deep, episcopal divide. I saw a couple of priests who I know have been at the center of the firestorm, beloved friends who I realize had to gather up a good deal of courage to come to that funeral, knowing that Bishop Duncan was the celebrant. Their love for a brother priest was greater than their feelings of alienation and their fears of a poor reception. I honor them for their presence and their courage and humility in not stepping away from this opportunity.

What a fitting tribute it was that these folks were drawn back together, so soon after such painful parting, by a love for this precious man who so often did just that, draw folks together and helped put relationships between people and with God to rights. And I give thanks for those brothers in Christ who sacrificed a bit of themselves to be there today. I honor that. I really do. And I am encouraged that in the moments when it is most necessary, we can bring ourselves to move forward with courage and Christian charity.

14 November 2008

Let's Get Something Straight (moved)

Christmas is Jesus' birthday, not yours. I heard that quote recently, and have already forgotten who said it. But how wise it is in our gift giving and getting culture, America's insane gluttony of merchendise. Perhaps this year will be the breaking point but I doubt it. What can I say, I'm a cynic in a lot of ways.

I caught a statistic today on KDKA (news, for all you non-Pittsburghers) that twelve and a half million people are still paying off last year's Christmas debt. What is with that? Twelve and a half people used the celebration of the birth of the guy that said "give all you have to the poor because it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven" as a reason to buy so much more stuff that they can't afford that a year later they're still in debt and thinking of doing the whole darned thing over again. There's a word for that. It's a word that as a small child I was told not to use. I'm an adult now, so I'll say it. The word is STUPID. It's also sinful and disordered and rather grotesque.

So this is my motto this year, Christmas is Jesus' birthday, not yours. There's no reason for "presents to self" while you shop 'til you drop. There's no reason to shop 'til you drop, for that matter. There's no reason to expect your friends and relations to shop 'til they drop. Let them out of the obligation. After all, how many more knicknacks and doodads do you need? Instead, do something nice for the world. Give a gift to World Vision or Samaritan's Purse. Volunteer. And after its all over, if you get yet another scarf, donate it to warm the neck of someone cold. Yet another sweater can warm a homeless back.

Yup, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Please do not buy me battery powered electronic thingamobs. I don't need another whatzit on my mantel. Instead, let's share a cup of coffee and pass an hour together. I like you for you, not for your stuff. Give a gift to Jesus, and take the time to be Jesus' gift to me.

13 November 2008

My Favorite Saints (moved)

One of my friends emailed me last night, asking me to list for him a number of my "favorite" saints. An unusual request, but it turned out to be a fun one. Here was my reply:
*Athanasius-- Contra mundum! Athanasius was willing to fight for the orthodox faith when it seemed nobody else would, hence the phrase "Athanasius against the world." His short but heafty book "On the Incarnation" is a foundational read in Christian formation.
*Benedict-- we named our homeschool after him. He was the recluse turned abbot, thrice the victim of an attempted murder, dreadfully strict and I am not sure I would like him for my abbot, but his rule of "prayer work and study" is the foundation of a healthy Christian life.
*Hilda of Whitby-- abbess in the right place at the right time and knew how to use it. She was abbess over both a men's monastery and a women's convent. She convened the council that reconciled Celtic Christianity to Roman Christianity, however awkwardly that was acheived.
*Stephen-- my brother deacon! Stephen delivered such a rousing sermon that the enemies of the Gospel rose up and murdered him!
*Nicholas-- Everyone knows him as Santa Claus. Bah! I know and love him as the bishop of Myra who at the Council of Nicea got up and slapped Arius for his stubborn heresy.
*Ephraim the Syrian--another brother deacon, poet, theologian. Ephraim was the deacon of deacons. He died of illness contracted while caring for victims of a local epidemic.
*Anselm of Canterbury-- Anselm's poetry is at times a total trip: "Adam was so full he belched" but Adam's children are starving. His theological thought was beautiful. Anselm definitely wins the entertainment award as well as the serious theologian award.
*Nicodemus, though I'm not sure he was ever officially made a saint. Nicodemus was the inquirer who approached Jesus by night, seemed to go away with no response to the answers he got... but he comes back later and offers seventy-five pounds of burial spices when Jesus is removed from the cross. That's over the top love!
*Ansgar-- missionary to the vikings... and the more I read about the vikings, the less I want that job.
*the Uganda Martyrs-- who were murdered for their refusal to have a homosexual relationship with their king because their faith forbade it. And one wonders why the Ugandan church is appalled at the current state of the Episcopal Church, USA.
*John the Evangelist-- who wrote that we might believe

There were a few others, but those were the ones I find most endearing. What does this combination mean about me? Perhaps that I value spunk... and an offbeat, unusual story. I like the guys that seem like real people to me.

But it does make me wonder who other people like best...

12 November 2008

A Perfect Storm (moved)

Admittedly, this is a re-write of an earlier blog post, which I removed when the tide of politics antiquated it. And nonetheless, there is still something necessary that one must hear, something good that can come of awareness. So I shall make a second attempt.
We’ve all heard of the phrase “the perfect storm” used when the weather conditions are right for something cataclysmic in the atmosphere. I’ve come to observe that a perfect storm in brewing in American health care too, most notably in the passage of Washington’s assisted suicide law, making my former home the second state (the first being Oregon) to allow doctors to administer a lethal dose of medication to patients who are terminally ill, cutting short their lives for the sake of “death with dignity.” (As an aside, I was impressed with a quotation on House, MD… how rarely I quote television, as I do not even own one… in which House states that there is no such thing as death with dignity, only life with dignity, death is always undignified. How true indeed!)
The perfect storm is brewing in this way:
The first condition to be met is that we must develop a culture in which some lives are easily discarded, no longer considered to be life at all. We will develop a whole new vocabulary for these lives, blastocyst is a perfect one, it makes humanity sound like worthless tissue. We will focus on a made-up problem of over-population (rather than under distribution) and assign control over who lives or dies to individuals rather than to God. Best yet, we’ll give the whole process a nice sounding name, something like “freedom of choice.”
A materialistic society will assist us in promoting this death ritual. Human life comes to be seen as burdensome, an obstacle to the greed of the individual. Babies are punishments inflicted on the irresponsible. No one who is too young, too old, or already has more than one or two of these little burdens is entitled to have another mouth to feed. We will scorn the family that has more than the allotted number, we will ban children from the public square. They are too noisy and messy. We will praise those who are “childless by choice.” The children we do have will be reduced to yet another possession, trophy children who are expected to excel for mommy dearest but never require sacrifices from the adults in their world.
On top of this we will overlay a lack of respect for aging and the elderly. We’ll bend over backwards to puff out our wrinkles, cover our grey, nip and tuck and lift. Our elderly will be removed from the family environment and the public square. Age will not be seen as a source of wisdom, instead it will be seen as a progression to becoming dependent on those who do not want to provide care, make sacrifices.
We’ll decide that some lives are not worth living. Anyone who is not physically perfect will suspect, seen as a burden on society. We will test children in the womb and encourage mothers to murder their unhealthy offspring. Mothers who fail to do so will be called “selfish” as they called Sarah Palin for bearing her son Trig. (And already in Austria a family has been denied the right to permanent residency, despite the fact that they immigrated from their home country to help Austria in the face of a shortage of doctors in the area—the father being a medical doctor—but they are denied the right to remain because the child has Down Syndrome and is too imperfect for their pristine society to want him around.) These lives will be conveniently snuffed out in utero, as 90% of Down Syndrome babies in America already are. This will also effectively reduce medical progress and societal acceptance of those who slip through the abortionist’s grasp, shortening their lives as fewer resources are available for them.
On top of these things, we’ll add an economic crisis, such that lives are reduced to dollars and cents, people worry about their own possession and finances, taxes and lack of profits are the great cultural fear.
And when all these things are accomplished, which in America they are, we will socialize health care. Suddenly your government will know the costs of keeping you alive, providing the care you need. Your imperfect self, your unhealthy fetus, are seen as leaches on the public dollar. The elderly and the infirm are no longer human, they are dollars and cents.
We’ll say we’re being compassionate, that we want to give them death with dignity, put them out of their suffering. We really mean we want to put them out of our economic suffering. We will encourage them to just shut up and die, then we will absolve ourselves for we can believe we are not their killers. Already in Oregon, patients have received letters from their insurance companies telling them their care is too expensive, especially compared to their income potential (think twice those of you who not only receive your health care from the government but are also living off the government dollar by being retired or on disability or welfare), they will no pay for your care because they see your life is not worth their expense, not worth living. But they’ll gladly pay to kill you, should your now untreated condition become too painful for you to bear.
In short, we have a perfect storm for a state which has the right to tell its citizens when to die.

11 November 2008

Cast Off Statistics (moved)

I admit to being a bibliophile and a regular visitor to used book sales. Since the seminary library where I regularly do research has a standing used book sale, I refer to my used book purchases as "my other library fees." I never pass up the opportunity to scout the new additions to the sale. At one point, in perusing the offerings, I found a thick blue binder among the dusty old tomes. The binder contained professional looking collection of resources entitled "Celebrate Life in the Parish," a resource of National Episcopalians for Life (now Anglicans for Life) which had been produced in 1997. Considering it was germane to a project I’m researching, I pulled it off the shelves, paid my dollar, and took the binder home.
As soon as I opened the text, I found this quotation (from Bishop John Howe) staring at me from the randomly selected page: "If you tried to honor the aborted dead with one minute of silence apiece, it would take you sixty-eight and one-half years to observe their passing." As staggering and sobering as that quotation is, it is, of course, over a decade out of date.
I admit that I looked up more current statistics. Using the information from the Guttmacher institute (which is admittedly in relationship with Planned Parenthood and is probably a conservative estimate) I discovered that: "From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred." Additionally, approximately 1.21 million unborn children are aborted every year since 2005. I did the math myself. At that rate, the 2008 number for Bishop Howe’s statement would be this: If you tried to honor the aborted dead with one minute of silence apiece, it would take you ninety-one and one half yeas to observe their passing." That is more than a lifetime for most of us.
In addition, you would never complete the task. For each minute of silence to honor one aborted child, three to four more would be added to the holocaust. And this is only in America, the worldwide statistics are beyond staggering.
To be honest, I’m not sure what to do with those numbers. Obviously the fight we are fighting is not one we are winning. Marches and organizations are helpful, but they aren’t winning the war. It is as if we are standing on a beach and trying to hold back the tide. It is a spiritual battle and everyone seems to understand that prayer is the only effective answer, and at the same time I read in the Scriptures how God allows sinners to go on sinning, how God "gave them up" to their evil ways, how for their hardness of heart they were given the freedom to reject him. And all the while, millions of innocents are dying.
I want to fix the problem. I want a simple solution, something I can just do to put things to rights, and there is none. If medical technology that reveals that life in the womb is indeed life and the public repentance of Norma McCorvey, the famous Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade fame, is not enough to stop the tide, surely my meager efforts hold no hope.
But I know this: that I may not be able to fix the problem, but I can be part of the solution. I can honor life, support adoption, care for single parents, pray for those whose lives are lost or damaged by abortion, and raise my sons to understand that promiscuity can result in a pregnancy over which, as men, they would have no power to save their children from abortion and to be prepared to accept their responsibility as fathers when God does grace their lives with children. We cannot solve the problem, but perhaps, just one child at a time, you and I can make a difference.

10 November 2008

An Open Letter to the Republican Party (moved)

As a small child, during the Reagan years, I recall writing a letter to then Vice President George H.W. Bush. I told him that I thought he was a good person and a good vice president and that when I was old enough, I would vote for him to be President of the United States. In 1992, at the age of eighteen, I kept that promise. I proudly voted for Mr. Bush, though none of my friends on my liberal undergraduate college campus would have had anything to do with him. I do not, for a minute, regret that choice, though President Bush was not able to win re-election. Eight years later, I voted, less proudly but still without major reservations, for President Bush’s son.
I have been a registered Republican since I became eligible to vote. I have voted faithfully in every major election and most primaries. I have studied the candidates, kept up with the news, and made my voice heard. Furthermore, I’ve kept my eyes open. I’ve watched as the Republican Party has slid more and more into the nanny state policies of the Democrats and walked further and further from its socially conservative roots. I have grown more and more disappointed with my party as the years have ticked by. In 2004, I voted for Michael Peroutka, the Constitution Party candidate for President. I was aware that it was a hopeless cause, but I could no longer support the Republican platform in good conscience.

I was encouraged this year by Ron Paul, and voted eagerly in my primary election, even though by the time the primary was held, John McCain had already clinched the nomination. I had hoped that the groundswell of support for Dr. Paul would encourage the Republican Party to return to its roots. Alas, no such message has been received. Throughout the remainder of the election I repeatedly asked myself, ‘can’t we do better than these?’

The Republican Party has shown itself to be impotent. Even with Republicans in office, I find that every year my civil liberties are eroded a little further, my tax dollars spent more foolishly (most recently on a bank takeover, dubbed a bail-out, which further increases our national debt while reducing our private enterprise) and even immorally (in the subsidizing of abortion of innocent children whose only fault is to be inconvenient or somehow imperfect). I have watched the Republican party stand helplessly by as the schools are further degraded, children taught all about sex at an early age but nothing about thinking for themselves. I have heard not a peep from the Republican Party as parental rights have diminished, the courts have made themselves legislators, and the United Nations taken a stronger voice in the formation of our legislation than the American people. I have stood helpless while my family’s hard earned money is plundered for corrupt and worthless legislation.

I have no power to change your policies. I have only one small vote among millions. I cannot change the world. Nonetheless, I can change my behavior. I shall no longer consider myself a Republican. Unless the Republican Party changes drastically, unless Republican leaders can do more than shake a finger at the evil of abortion and look the other way as our foundational liberties are eroded, I am compelled to move on. I acknowledge that it is time for a new political party in America, some old-fashioned American competition in the political industry. History has shown us that parties rise and fall, and it has been all too long since such a rise and fall has taken place. If the Republican Party has chosen a path of impotency and oblivion, then it is time that we ordinary members of that republic put forth the effort to form a new party.

Personally, my hope lies in the Constitution Party. The idea of a republic which is faithful to its founding documents, legislated by legislators and not judges, governed by a small government and small taxes, and where citizens are expected and given the freedom to take care of themselves, these thoughts encourage me.

So close following this recent election, I am sure no one wants to think of politics at this point, but now is the time. This cannot be left until the next election "season." Preparation and grass roots mobilization is essential. So I am casting my lot with a third party. I shall no longer be a Republican; there seems to be no real difference between the Republicans and Democrats anymore, anyway. In order for Americans to have actual choices, we need a third party. Borrowing the words of that first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, we need this upheaval to ensure "that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

08 November 2008

A Quote I Love (moved)

"An eagle is a remarkable bird. Strong enough to carry a lamb or a small goat, it can fly exceptionally high. It is reputed to be able to see two miles, has no fear of clouds. Scripture says that those who wait upon theLord will be like eagles. But in fact, when we look at... all the persecution that [is] happening today, Christians are tempted to be like chickens, who scratch the ground, around the ground with their eyes down and their vision limited to the next speck of food. Eagles are visionaries." Bishop Ben Kwashi

07 November 2008

We Have A Bishop (moved)

Serving in the Episcopal DIocese of Pittsburgh is a real treat. I am often in awe of the godly and gifted clergy that I serve alongside here. Day in and day out, they are my friends, and sometimes in the ordinariness of that friendship I fail to notice what extra-ordinary people these folks are... but on days like today, one cannot miss the incredible joy and committment of these great men and women.

Today we re-elected bishop Duncan to be our bishop; making him effectively the seventh AND eighth bishop of the diocese. (Does this mean churches have to hang two pictures of him on the wall of episcopal fame?) Of course for those of us who do not recognize the deposition, it was a formality and simply a reconfirmation of what was already there.

What was amazing about it all was the spirit of joy and freedom and even levity, while at the same time it was obvious that these folks are committed and serious and ready to move forward, following Jesus whatever the cost. Of course it's that combination of joy and fearless committment that I love the most. And tonight that incredible combination was everywhere.

After he was elected, Bishop asked us will we pray, and the response was (of course) an overwhelming "yes". He asked us if we were willing to "cast out into the deep" and join him in mission, saying "you don't catch many fish close to shore. and we've had to stay close to shore, but now there's no excuse to stay close to shore. " When asked to stand to affirm that we were willing and ready to cast out into the deep, everyone within my field of vision eagerly stood. This wasn't just to look good, these are people who can't wait to cast out into the deep.

And there was laughter. One thing Pittsburgh does well is laugh together. The other thing we do well is fight for the Gospel together. These are some intense people in intense times, we work hard, we play hard. I'm honored to serve among them. I'll spare you the varous quotes, but even Bishop Duncan was more joyful and at ease than I've ever seen him. I feel that we have a renewed Bishop... and even though our assisting bishop is leaving us to return to England, I think there is a little of him in our new-old bishop, now, too.

As is frequent, bishop reported to us greetings from around the world and from our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Christian Church. It is so wonderful to know that we are in a wider communion, that the faith is tremendously broad (and that we need not compromise the integrity of the Gospel to encompass that latitude) and that we are so able to encourage one another.

Bishop is always reminding us to be ourselves at our best. Tonight, I think we were.

21 October 2008

Two Things To Note (moved)

I recall when the diocese, not so much as a full year ago, was exploring its options. The option presented by those who are against realignment was that we would all stay in the Episcopal Church and "build a firewall" around our parishes and diocese to shield it from the goings on at 815. Of course, the reason that argument didn't fly then was that we had been doing that for quite some time and it wasn't a long term solution. But more and more, post realignment, I am saddened to see that the very people who then encouraged a "firewall" are consulting with 815, praising the words and actions of those who would have destroyed firewalls, and conspiring with the ones who would readily sue those of us who have loved these folks and still do.

My second observation comes on a more cheerful note, though. We had our first post-realignment clergy gathering today and it all felt so very unfettered! Thanks be to God for laughter, friendship, future, and encouragement. We also got a brief and welcomed visit from Bishop Iker, who it was my delight to meet for the first time. Please pray for their convention in November as the diocese of Fort Worth considers similar measures to what Pittsburgh has adopted.

Of course the link between these to observations is the link of fellowship. Who do you support wholly? Who is on your team? Who is part of the body? And how do you celebrate and uphold those people. Sometimes who we love comes dangerously close to defining us. How we carry out that love, quite often rightly reveals what is at our core.

I am reading some remarkable stuff in Simon Chan's book Liturgical Theology about the nature of the church as the body of Christ and the nature of the Eucharist. In short, Chan quotes the addage "you are what you eat." This of course made me chuckle, but his point is well taken; we are the body of Christ because the sacrament of the Eucharist is a means of grace by which we are transformed into active participants in the Incarnational ministry of the Church, of Christ himself. I was reflecting on the garden of Eden, when he snake tells Eve that "you will be like God" and he's right. Eve was already like God, of course, made in God's image. That won't change, though the image comes to be deeply marred, after the fall, so on that level the snake does not lie, he only neglects to point out where she is like God already. And yet, through Christ's sacrifice we are again restored to that which Eve lost, and we are made like God, incarnational, knowing good (despite knowing evil also) and able to take part in all that is good and holy and eternal. Man was not made for evil and sin, sickness and death, but in Christ we are redeemed from that and once again made like God, able to commune with God and take part in his plan of divine grace in the world. That's pretty amazing stuff.

I guess this is where the anti-communions of so many modern hip re-imaging liturgies is most spiritually dangerous. For if you are what you eat, if a sacrament transforms us in real and tangible ways, then a false sacrament, a mockery, a self-serving liturgy must also transform us. Hmm... food for thought. (dreadful pun inteneded)

20 October 2008

Sometimes its good to hear someone else say it. (moved)

Since this book (Inside American Education) was published in 1993, I will clearly have to credit the author, Thomas Sowell, for being ahead of his time. But he said it. What needed to be said. What still needs to be said, but unfortunately will never really be heard by the people who need most to hear it. Well, let me just give you the quote, then we can talk about it:

"If you have no right to disapprove, then your approval means nothing. It may indeed be distressing to someone to have you express your opinion that his lifestyle is disgusting and his art, music, or writing is crude, shallow, or repugnant, but unless you are free to reach such conclusions, any praise you bestow is hollow and suspect. To say that A has a right to B's approval is to say that B has no right to his own opinion."

Or another quote I saw somewhere and will paraphrase, and I'm sorry I can't recall the attribution: equality is permanently at odds with liberty. In other words, in a free society, you can't guarantee that everyone will be treated equally. All men are indeed created equal, but they won't have equal pay, equal housing, equal education. All men are equal, but all lives will never be. And where society forces all lives to be equal, we have seen that all freedom is lost and humanity becomes yet another interchangeable part in the great system.

Equality is actually pretty unfair, too. Imagine that I should treat each of my children equally. My mother tried to do this and I was often held back from a freedom until my little brother was old enough to handle it, too. My own boys are so spread apart in age that such a scheme would be doomed to failure, and there are many tantrums as my youngest seeks equality with the eldest, which in fairness he cannot have as it would endanger his safety.

Life isn't equal. Freedom means the right to disapprove. Will my favor mean anything to you if it is forced? Would you want me as a friend if you knew my loyalty was not genuine? Would you rather be equal or would you rather be free?

I had a friend in college who got a lot of flack (to the extent that there was major public forum to address the issue) and outright hatred because he dared stand up against "affirmative action" and as an aside he also owned a Confederate flag. He knew the flag stood for states' rights, freedom... but so few in our culture think it stands for anything good and consider it a racist emblem. People hated him because he dared speak out as Sowell (who by the way is black) spoke in his book. My friend did not have the right to his opinion because it was on the censored list.

But there are others who will demand our approval anyway. These are the ones who lightly use the term racist for anyone not voting for Obama (give me a break! I would gladly have voted for Alan Keys!), who accuse women like me who question feminism of betraying womankind, who throw around words like heterosexist, homophobic, anti-choice, and intolerant as if they were candy at a Macy's parade.

I don't want my youngest to ever wonder whether he got admitted to a college because he's a "student of color." (What the heck does that mean anyway?) I recall wondering if I had been accepted to my own undergraduate school to help balance out the geographic distribution (there were few students from my home state, and being a woman, I surely got the extra nudge at my liberal college.) I want all my kids to earn their merits. I don't want my non-minority sons to resent others for maybe getting a little extra preference any more than a minority parent should want their children to think they needed the extra preference.

I can't deny that the equal rights movement has given us a lot of wonderful benefits. Thanks to the work of our forebears, a woman like me can receive as good an education as a man. My Korean born son will never have to be told "we don't serve your kind here" or called "yellow" (cringe!). I don't have to choose my neighborhood by race, my social circles can be ethnically mixed, I can enjoy a variety of ethnic foods and cultural opportunities right here in my hometown, and we do acknowledge indeed that all men are created equal.

We can enjoy all of that, but unless we sacrifice our freedom, we cannot enforce it. (And should we enforce it, we will no longer enjoy it, I can assure you.) I read a while back that in Britain, parents were flagged for possible child abusing racists if their kids said "Yuck" when forced to try ethnic foods. Well in a free society, my kids (who regularly eat Asian, Indian, Mexican, and all manner of European cuisine) have a right to say yuck... except when I cook it.

19 October 2008

A Treat (moved)

It's rare, even for someone like me who spends a lot of time in churches, to visit a church and think "that was a treat." Well I did today. I found a little church where I was older than the average person in the congregation. I'm serious, the average age was clearly under thirty. And yet the service wasn't the typical "seeker sensitive" watered down claptrap that people think draws in the "younger" generations. It was Evening Prayer, done right, no frills (and you all know I do love frills) but full of tradition, theology, liturgy, wonder, and a sense of genuine peacefulness.

And the sermon was, of all things, about adoption and how God adopts us as sons and heirs. I could almost anticipate the preacher's next sentence so many times. He clearly just gets it; when it comes to the faith, our place, our calling, our tradition... some people get it. And can articulate it. And when that happens the funniest quirks come out. Like when he said he didn't care for the second verse in Away In The Manger... a throw-away comment, I guess... except that I don't care for it either. And for the same reason. (The idea that baby Jesus, "no crying he makes, " is anti-incarnational, now don't you think? And a bit silly, for anyone who has ever known any babies.) You get in a groove with people like that, they become like old friends very early in the relationship.

And he didn't just get it with Christianity, God, Scripture and Tradition... he got it with adoption too. Even though the priest isn't an adoptive parent, he got it. Groovy.

The only thing I didn't like was the commute, so I guess it'll be a while before I get back there. Bummer. But it reminded me of something. It really doesn't matter if you have smells and bells (though I still like them, crave them)... what matters it that you worship with integrity, the kind of worship that comes from really understanding, really getting it.

For the curious... the church can be found at http://graceanglicanonline.com/

17 October 2008

I found this while cleaning out some archives. Don't forget to sing along... tastefully. (moved)

To give correct attribution: This was apparently posted (originally or at least some time ages ago) on Kendall Harmon's blog, TitusOneNine.

A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics
(tune: Aurelia: The Church's One Foundation)

Our church is mighty spikey with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction and mid-week Rosaries.

Though with a scornful wonder men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Spirit, but incense taking flight.

Now we on earth have union with Lambeth, not with Rome,
Although the wags and cynics may question our true home;
But folk masses and bingo can't possibly depose
The works of Byrd and Tallis, or Cranmer's stately prose.

(Here shall the organist modulate)

So let the organ thunder, sound fanfares "en chamade";
Rejoice, for we are treading where many saints have trod;
Let peals ring from the spire, sing descants to high C,
Just don't let your elation disrupt the liturgy.

Avignon Standing Committees (moved)

The current nonsense in which the Diocese of Pittsburgh removes one member from the Standing Committee (after all, he's expressed his intent to withdraw from the diocese and rejoin the American Province of the Episcopal Church) who then declares himself the only true member of the standing committee and appoints two more to join him, really reminds me of the competing papacies in the middle ages. Remember that from your history classes? There were, at one point, as many as three Popes who had all excommunicated one another and everyone that followed the other popes. But nobody cared because each considered their own pope to be the only legitimate one. This seems to be how things are going now in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The rump diocese thinks its the only one... and you can tell which diocese of Pittsburgh I see as the only legitimate one. There is not even a way of talking about one another without declaring where one stands, without declaring one or the other illegitimate. There can only be one Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In the end the excommunications, or at least the depositions, will come. Of course the words are empty, they won't effect anyone's ministry. For me, to be deposed by 815 is about the same to me as being deposed by the Mormons... so what. Perhaps if we can remember that it is mostly institutions that throw those empty words, and they're thrown to cover institutional rear ends... but aside from a few individuals who have chosen to make institutional rear ends of themselves, most of the people who are caught up in all this on both sides are just people, living out their convictions (or at worst their strategies), and in no way are these folks now different from when they were just the priests in the next town over with whom we enjoyed passing a pleasant hour of socal conversation.

In the end, the Avignon popes faded out... and everyone who excommunicated one another had to learn to live in the same body again. In the end, the Roman Catholic Church got things back in right order. Perhaps that is hopeful news for us.

12 October 2008

Cool! (moved)

In grocery news, (why am I so on about groceries (or as my youngest pronounces them: gwofies?) the Japanese win the award for drowning the mundane with cleverness. These, my friends, are bar codes!

Yup, functioning, kind of cute, definitely clever, bar codes. So are these:

With whimsy like that... forget it all, I'm moving to Japan. Just as soon as I learn to read Japanese.

09 October 2008

Not sure what to title this (I've changed it several times) (moved)

Searching on the web for something entirely different, I happened to stumble across my own little article entitled "A Case for Leaving the Episcopal Church." As the search turned up my own name, it drew my eye, obviously. I found a few things interesting:

First, that that little bit of mental meandering has circulated so far outside of the diocese of Pittsburgh as to be picked up by Anglicans United and some blog out of the diocese of Central New York, both of which republished it without my knowledge, though with proper credit (or blame, depending on the reader's perspective). The Central New York version is what popped up in my search, though someone had pointed me to Anglicans United a while ago and I was aware of that one.

Second, I found it interesting that someone at least read the thing and commented on the Central New York site. But what was most intriguing of all was the content of some of those comments. I was accused, presumably because I find my own call to holy orders to be less important than the good of the Church, of "internalized misogeny" wherein supposedly I hate myself for being a woman because somewhere along the lines some man must have told me to. More interesting, of course, was that the writer, whose condescending tones were impossible to miss, was a male. The debate, between two men I have never met, went on for a bit as they tried to argue with one another about how they seemed to assume I felt.

Have we truly fallen so far? Gentlemen (and ladies, wherever you may be) I do not need your psychologizing. I have chosen not to be a priest and cling lightly to my diaconal calling not because I think my feminity anything less. I do so because the so called brave pioneers of women's priesting were acting in ungodly rebellion with no regard to the good of the body which as priests they should be bound to protect. Every woman priest who is ordained in the Episcopal Church (and believe me I know several good ones) unwittingly participates in that act of rebellion. I cannot, in good faith, be part of that. That's not the only reason I remain a deacon, but it is perhaps one of the most immovable. I would welcome a re-evaluation of the nature of women's orders because I really do believe it is allowable (and therefore women in orders have nothing to fear from re-evaluating) and I also believe that to separate so dramatically from the rebellious beginning is the only way to remove the stain of those actions from women's ministry. In other words, women in orders have nothing to lose and everything to gain in so doing.

In the end, women's ordination remains an issue. Once the dust settles on the current divide, we will find ourselves in communion with folks who by and large cannot accept our ordained women, priests and (to a lesser extent) deacons. How we respond to those folks, who in the case of the Southern Cone-- I've said it before and I'll say it again-- really have gone above and beyond the call of duty in accepting Pittsburgh, girls and all. (Gracias, beloved Archbishop!), really will define the future of the Anglican Communion.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. Perhaps it is just a way of responding to the murmur I seem to have sparked. Perhaps it is a way of expressing my mild disgust with it all. Mostly I guess it's just food for thought.

08 October 2008

An Observation (moved)

This summer, as I walked out of the ladies' room at the library at Nashotah House, I couldn't help but notice a sign on the door of the men's room that said something like "please do not take library books beyond this point." It made me wonder if there had been issues with students taking books into the bathroom where they could of course be damaged by water, until I turned around and looked back at the ladies' room door and found no such sign. I had to chuckle; I guess women aren't as notorious for bathroom reading.

That was a little silly amusement, until tonight. I split my research between Nashotah's library and Trinity School for Ministry's library... and tonight at Trinity's library, on my way to the ladies' room I passed a door wih a sign on it that said "No library materials beyond this point." On second look I noticed that yes, the door was for the men's room. And no, there was no equivalent sign on the ladies' room.

So guys, particularly those of you at Anglican seminaries... you seem to be getting a reputation.

07 October 2008


What on God's dirtly little planet is with this:
""If you're the kind of person who types tipsy and regrets it in the morning, Google's "Mail Goggles," a new test-phase feature in the free Gmail service, might save you some angst.
The Goggles can kick in late at night on weekends. The feature requires you to solve a few easy math problems in short order before hitting 'send.'" (http://kdka.com/watercooler/google.mail.goggles.2.834759.html)

AND this:
"So you think junior is a little too lead-footed when he drives the family car? Starting next year, Ford Motor Co. will give you the power to do something about it.
The company will roll out a new feature on many 2010 models that can limit teen drivers to 80 mph, using a computer chip in the key.
Parents also have the option of programming the teen's key to limit the audio system's volume, and to sound continuous alerts if the driver doesn't wear a seat belt." (http://kdka.com/consumer/ford.computer.cars.2.833552.html)

Have we finally become a culture of people who are totally incapable of self regulating? We now need our email to tell us when we're too tippled to type and our cars to tell us how to drive them? Ford goes on about "our message to parents is..." blah blah... what about your message to kids? I'm sorry but if my kid can't self regulate, he can't drive. Someday he has to leave my home and figure out how to set his own limits and I want him to learn that skill while he is growing up, not get thrown out in the world to figure it out.

What next, a pillow that tells me when to got to bed? an oven that tells me when to eat? a telephone that tells me when to stop running my mouth? A blog account that shuts off when my entries are lous

06 October 2008


Saturday has been described as a sad and glorious day. But perhaps, not so glorious. In reflection, it seems to me that what we have done, in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, is admitted that we are failures, we have admitted defeat. For thirty years (less for some of us, more for others) we have struggled to to reform the church, to call it to Christ, to return the bride to her Lord. We have failed. We are now dead to them, we can never undo our failure.

On Sunday my parish voted that they would remain in the Episcopal Church, USA. On a personal level, they have voted that I, too, am a failure. It is all lost. Sure the mission was impossible. Sure the time was short. Sure the tools were few. That does not negate the failure. Failure has no excuse to redeem it. It simply is.

There is wisdom in failure. When do we admit defeat, when do we choose to fight again. In Pittsburgh this weekend we admit defeat. This is a sad day, not at all glorious.

For ourselves, we are hopeful. For the Southern Cone we are thankful. I have no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing on Saturday. But in what we set out to do, we are failures.

The Gospel is that the Church is for failures. Every day we set our feet on the path to holiness. Every day we fail. Every new day we arise to fight again, for we cannot admit defeat when Christ has promised to make us victorious. But we must accept his terms, not doing so is the sin of the church we've failed. So Jesus save us, perfect us, for you have brought us very low indeed.

To my brothers and sisters who have not yet admitted defeat: May God bless you in the fight.

05 October 2008

Final Sermon (moved)

Note: This sermon was given this morning to a congregation determined to rush headlong into a world of cultural psuedo-christianity which will eventually be the end of their existence as a congregation. They know this. There is a marked final attempt at innoculation going on here, along with some exegesis, an undertone which admits to my own failure there and a sentimental farewell.


There were a number of different groups in the early church who claimed to have the true teaching of the Christian faith. Every group claimed to be Christian, and sometimes they sounded pretty good. Paul wrote the majority of his letters either because there were disagreements within a believing church or because one or more of these groups was luring a local church towards a false gospel. Paul gets the short end of the stick in modern liberal scholarship. They accuse him of inventing his own religion, hating women, hating homosexuals, being hard-hearted and basically a jerk. I know a lot of people who won’t read Paul or try to argue that Jesus said one thing and Paul said another.

But if you take the time to get to know Paul, you’ll meet a man who tried to do nothing more than follow Jesus and love him and make him known far and wide. Paul is driven by his own sense of sinfulness. He knows what damage he did to the church when he was a Jew, how he persecuted the Christians. He knows he’s unworthy of any favor from God, but that God redeemed him anyway, through no merit of Paul’s. He knows that he has been blessed with a responsibility to share the good news of Christ Jesus, and he moves mountains to do just that. For the sake of the Church, he leaves his home, goes on three long and dangerous voyages, is beaten, shipwrecked three times, arrested, tried, run out of town, accused, lashed with whips. Eventually he’s even executed.

And even in today’s short reading, we see something of this Paul. He’s not a hard hearted man, though he must often be firm with those he instructs. He never fails to send them warm greetings, he tells the churches he misses them and that he will come to see them as soon as he is able. In today’s reading he tells the Philippians about some of those false teachers who are trying to sway the church away, but he does not do so with arrogance, rather he tells them with tears. He is not afraid to admit that he is shedding tears over the souls of those who would lead the church astray. Perhaps he is recalling God’s word that those who presume to teach will be judged more harshly, and those who lead the little ones astray may as well have a millstone around their necks and be thrown into the sea. Paul grieves over the fate of the enemies of the Gospel. This is no hard man.

Paul is warning the Philippians about a group whose heresy is what we now call antinomianism. It’s a large word, but if you take it apart it make sense. Anti, you can probably guess, means agaisnt. The rest of the word is rooted in the Greek word nomos which means "law". In other words, antinomianism believes there is no law, no rules, your behavior doesn’t matter in the least. Jesus saves you, but you don’t have any duty to amend you life. It takes the idea that we’re saved through no merit of our own, a right and good belief, and doubles it back in an unhealthy way. It is, what the apostle James calls faith without works, and that, he says is "dead."

Christians throughout time have fallen prey to antinomianism. False teachers arise telling people, as the gnotsics of the early church said, that the physical world is worthless so it doesn’t matter what you do with your body. Do whatever you want. Others have said that since Jesus fufilled the law, it is now totally irrelevant, and they pick and choose sections of Paul’s writing (while ignoring the whole meaning of those passages, tossing out the importance of reading his words in context, which we discussed last week) to try to prove their wrong-headed point. But Paul himself says that though we are not saved by our merit, indeed we are saved by God’s gracious work alone, "should we then sin more so that grace may abound? By no means!" Instead we are instructed to work out our faith with fear and trembling.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians offers us an image of what those who do not try to amend their lives to please God will come to be like. He says their god is their belly. Their own appetites are what they worship. They believe that if they want something, even if it’s bad for them or against God’s will, they should go get it. Things that are shameful, behaviors that should considered to be repugnant and mortifying become their pride and joy. Parade your sins and fallen nature in the streets! Be proud! Though God should be their only glory, they glorify in their shame and sin. But Paul says of these people, their end is their own destruction. Their mind is on earthly things, things which will pass away. There is nothing eternal or good or healthy awaiting those who put their stock in this fallen world. Self-esteem may be the modern necessity, we think it is vital that we feel good about ourselves at all costs. The cult of the self-esteem god is just another disguise for antinomianism.

But we are to be different. We are not to put our stock in things that are passing away… our citizenship is in heaven. We know that we need to be saved from this sinful world, not revel in it. And our savior is coming to us from the kingdom we are destined to inherit, the kingdom of heaven. And he is the one who has the power to bring everything, our sin and shame, our temptation and suffering, the world and all that is in it, under his control. Our lowly sinful bodies will be restored, free from temptation, sin, degradation and rot. Our lowly sinful bodies will be victorious and made like him, glorious and holy.

Modern antinomianism can sound appealing. I’m okay and you’re okay. Live and let live. But the Gospel says I’m not okay and neither are you. As nice and friendly as it may sometimes sound, all this modern heresy will get you is, well, to quote a song from the 1990’s… the band They Might Be Giants (a secular group, if you’re curious) is spot on when they sang "we were once so close to heaven, Peter came out and gave us medals, declaring us the nicest of the damned."

Those who follow the antinomians make the life of the Christian sound onerous. To them we are the people who don’t do what they see as good and fun. And it is true that we don’t glory in their shameful glory. But the task is not an onerous one. The famous Christian theologian, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, said it this way: Only the man who follows the command of Jesus single-mindedly, and unresistingly lets his yoke rest upon him, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.

And so we come, as A.A.Milne said in his Winnie the Pooh books, to the end, and it’s time to say goodbye. If you recall those lovely stories, Pooh Bear asks can’t we just go back to the beginning and start over? Would that we could. I hope, in all these months, I have left you with something good, a better sense of our God, a little growth in the right direction. I told Maxine last week that I had wanted oh so much more for this little church. My heart is heavy to say goodbye. This week a dear friend posted this poem on her blog. She felt it appropriate to the current issues in the Episcopal Church… I shall close by sharing it with you, for here also it is fitting.

If Everything is Lost, by Dom Julian

If everything is lost, thanks be to God
If I must see it go, watch it go,
Watch it fade away, die
Thanks be to God that He is all I have.
And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all.
Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind
Farewell to the grey sky
Goodbye, God be with you, evening October sky.
If all is lost, thanks be to God,
For He is He, and I, I am only I.

04 October 2008


Words from a friend outside of the Pittsburgh diocese..."watching the brave but dignified way this played out in Pgh"... Made me smile, and I thought all of you on both sides of the issue should hear that comment.

Top Ten Moments at Pittsburgh's Convention (as I experienced it) (moved)

10. Fr. JG's reminder that wherever you go you'll always be my friend.
9. Excitement at lunch over Dcn. RS's call to support the sanctity of life.
8. Fr. AK's warm greeting (and other reunions with far flung friends who are still canonically resident in da Burgh.)
7. Fr. JM's grace under constant fire.
6. Bp. RD (okay, we all know who he is!) beaming as we applauded him and then reminding us by joyful hand jestures (over the applause) to give the glory to God.
5. Fr. BR, a friend "Across the Aisle" asking me for a "He's still my bishop" button, and assuring me that our friendship won't change after the vote (as if I had doubts).
4. DP at the organ for opening Eucharist.
3. The tension and then respectful quiet as the results of the realignment vote were announced.
2. Receiving my license from the Southern Cone. (And hugs and greetings of 'buenos dias' among realigned friends afterwards!)
1. Cn. MH.... "Pittsburgh Babe", breaking the tension just when it most needed to be broken. :)

Okay, receiving my license was actually number one, but David Letterman would not be pleased if I didn't save the Pittsburgh Babe zinger for number one. M may have been a bit embarrassed but she handled it well and the laughter was a total gift from God.

And to misuse a quote from Lewis Grizzard, I'll end by saying, "I'm American by birth and Southern (Cone) by the grace of God!"

Buenos Dias (moved)

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with this somewhat pitiful tired deacon, have taken our leave of the Episcopal Church and have realigned to the Province of the Southern Cone. It was a very bittersweet time. A lot of people asked me if I was okay during the convention. I guess I looked like heck. 2.5 hours of sleep will do that. I admit, I'm an insomniac and had it bad the night before. I think I was a little doom cloud through the first half of convention, at least until the break.

After the resolution passed, some deputations got up and walked out. But on the whole the mood was hopeful. Now that I'm home, it feels like I'm somehow older and a bit worn down. Maybe that also is the after effects of the insomnia.

At any rate, I am now part of a province I can at least pronounce if I have the words in front of me but can't remember on my own in its proper language. The extent of my pathetic Spanish is camping happily in the subject line. I expect, with differing opinions on women priests, this will be a learning curve for all involved. But the work is no doubt worth it, the tired feeling is a small price to pay.

I look forward to being able to pray regularly "For Greg, our Archbishop" among the prayers of the people. And to the clergy and people of the Southern Cone, who have so graciously accepted us as their northern-most outpost... Gracias.

29 September 2008

The Twelve Days of Convention (or "Thank God Convention is only one day") (Moved)

On the first day of convention my church gave to me a lawsuit from 815.

On the second day of convention my church gave to me two deposed bishops (Schofield and Duncan, of course)
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the third day of convention my church gave to me three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the fourth day of convention my church gave to me four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the fifth day of Convention my church gave to me five golden patens... no wait, they took those.
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the sixth day of Convention my church gave to me six MDG's
five golden chalises... no wait, they took those too.
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the seventh day of Convention my church gave to me seven bloggers blogging
six MDG's
five golden thuribles... oops, no they were taken too.
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815.

On the 8th day of Convention my church gave to me eight empty promises
seven bloggers blogging
six MDG's
five golden offering plates... oh, they took those too??? drat.
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815

On the 9th day of convention my church gave to me nine press releases
eight empty promises
seven bloggers bloggin
six MDG's
five golden candlesti---... Oh, not those too.
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815

On the tenth day of convention my church gave to me ten empty buildings
nine press releases
eight empty promises
seven bloggers blogging
six MDG's
five pieces of missing altarware (there, is that more accurate?)
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815

On the eleventh day of convention my church gave to me eleven lawyers suing
ten empty buildings
nine press releases
eight empty promises
seven bloggers blogging
six MDG's
five pieces of missing altarware
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops
and a lawsuit from 815

On the twelfth day of convention my church gave to me... (deep breath... ready? let's go for it!)
twelve StandFirm comments
eleven lawyers suing
ten empty buildings
nine press releases
eight empty promises
seven bloggers blogging
six MDG's
five pieces of missing altarware
four angry wardens
three pre-convention hearings
two deposed bishops...
....and a lawsuit from 815!!!!

28 September 2008


God and the Convention willing, today will be my last Sunday in the Episcopal Church. It comes very close to the point at which I can claim half my life was spent here. wow.

26 September 2008

In Two Weeks (moved)

In two weeks time, this will all be over. Nothing about my church life will look like it does today. None of the stresses I currently have will be relevant. I'm sure there will be some new stresses, but the current ones have an end date. My parish, my diocese, my province... none of it will look the same. In some ways, that's a relief. I've pretty much had it. I'm tired. It's time to end this and move on. But in some ways its really sad. Parting ways with friends is never good. And some friends I'm sure won't be able to see ways to maintain the friendship past the fork in the road. And we are giving TEC up for lost. I am glad some of my brothers are able to stay behind and fight for the souls TEC has kidnapped into her agenda. Perhaps these brothers are stronger than I am. And more than anything, what will happen in the next two weeks is awesome... in the old fashioned since of awe inducing. This is the moment. Plant a flag for Jesus or don't plant any flag at all, folks. Or as the bishop has so often said, we must "be ourselves at our best."

It's gone on for so long, I find it hard to believe that it is coming to an end. Sunday, will be my last Eucharist in TEC, God willing. TEC was a home to me when I needed one, but I know what it looks like when it's time to move on. I moved on once before from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). There was no big vote then, no mass movement. It was just me, moving on. It wasn't sudden; there were no milestones and big dates. I just slipped quietly out. But one thing is common to both, this overwhelming feeling that I want more. More Scripture, more tradition, more godly fellowship and spiritual growth. More.

May you, too, receive more.

And Now for Something Completely Different (moved)

Because I'm tired of obscessing over the Church... here's a little something I've had in the works for a while and thought I'd share here. It's just a little thing about adoption.

Annie Maw: A Foster Mother’s Legacy

Her name was Annie and she was my great-grandmother. I never questioned that relationship. I never even gave it a second thought when, as a child, she told me about being born on 25 December, 1897 and how she never liked having her birthday on Christmas Day because you never got as many gifts as you would if your birthday was any other day. 1897 seemed so far in the past, a whole different century! As a child I had a sense of awe about that. I remember vividly how she told me of the very first time she ever rode in a car, she remembered it in such detail, even so many years later as Alzheimer’s Disease began to take many other more recent details from her memories. I remember how my mother told me of growing up with her Annie Maw and "Daddy" (Annie’s husband, Fritz, who died before I was born) living just up the street. My mother told me that Annie Maw could cook the best biscuits in the world. I learned that my favorite little apron that I liked to wear to play pretend or help in the kitchen was made by my Annie Maw.

I never questioned my relationship with Annie Maw as she grew older and frail and sometimes was unable to recognize us when we went to pick her up from Uncle Jim's house. She had come to live with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Margie as when she could no longer live alone in her apartment (the apartment where all her neighbors came out and greeted us children with stories of a bygone era and everyone there seemed so very old, though I doubt now that they were). At Uncle Jim’s house, she had the bedroom down the hall and she was always happy to see us come to visit her. Sometimes, we took her with us to our house for a longer visit and sometimes she stayed overnight. Nor did I ever question my relationship with Annie Maw when she could no longer live with Uncle Jim and Aunt Margie and instead was moved into a small, stark room in a nursing home. I hated visiting that nursing home, especially as I was a preteen and found it so awkward that Annie Maw sometimes could not remember who we were. I hated visiting, but I always loved her. She was my Annie Maw.

And when she died at the age of eighty-eight, she was still my Annie Maw.

It was never a secret that Annie Maw was of no genetic or legal relation to me at all. And yet I never questioned that she was my real great-grandmother. A young woman in her early thirties, Annie McCampbell did something very few people of her time would ever dream of doing; she adopted a little girl, Hazel. Hazel had had a hard story… her birthmother had died young and her father was an alcoholic. With six children and a drinking problem, my biological great-grandfather could not take care of his family; child protective services came in and took the children. They were scattered; one got married, one joined the military, two were adopted by separate families. And Hazel was adopted by the McCampbells. Only one remained: Jessie.

Adoption was a shameful thing in 1930 and the poverty of the Depression made taking in other people’s kids even less appealing. It was then that Annie and Fritz McCampbell adopted Hazel. But they also did something even more extraordinary. They became permanent foster parents for Hazel’s older sister, Jessie, who legally was too old to be adopted. Jessie was no baby, in fact she was a young woman who had already had a few unfortunate foster placements behind her, but she still needed parents. Annie and Fritz became those parents in all but legal standing. It was Jessie who was my grandmother.

Annie McCampbell was nothing more than a stranger to Jessie for the formative years of my grandmother’s life, but she was more a mother to her, a grandmother to Jessie’s daughter and a great-grandmother to me, than many biological mothers ever even dream of being. She and Fritz parented and mentored Jessie; and when Jessie’s husband left her with a tiny daughter, Annie and Fritz helped her to raise my mother. My mother’s devotion to Annie Maw and "Daddy" was unwavering. My mother never called her own biological father "daddy" but would call Fritz McCampbell by that name, and not just "daddy" but usally she would say "daddy… my daddy." These were her grandparents, no matter what genetic testing or legal documentation might say to the contrary.

And never, as a child nor as an adult have I questioned that.

When other adoptive mothers worry that their children will feel left out of genealogy projects at school and the various names and dates of family history, I think of Annie Maw. If, by mothering Jessie, she became so fully my great-grandmother, then there must be a link that goes back into time as well. Annie’s care for my mother and grandmother changed the course of my family forever. And without that course correction, I probably would never have been born. She is as much a contributor to my being and my being who I am as any biological relative. And so I have to conclude that it is not only genetic code that makes a great-grandmother. Something more is vital here, it is the life lived and the stories we pass to our children.

And so I have another treasure in my family tree, Annie Maw, who I hand down to my own children, the ones born to me and the one adopted into our family. I hope my sons will see most clearly that Annie Maw is their "real" great-great-grandmother. She was the one that sparked a passion for adoption in three generations of women in my family. And so she has had her touch on my children’s life, though she died so long before they were born. She has changed their destiny forever, as well. She has contributed to their being and being who they are. And nobody can ever question that.

22 September 2008

I Want One of These (moved)

"A Brooklyn clergyman decided to fulfill literally the admonition to ' go out into the highways'. His travelling chapel has stained-glass windows, a small organ, and a steeple that can be lowered to permit passage into a garage."
Photograph by Underwood and Underwood

21 September 2008

Passings (moved)

Give to the departed eternal rest.

Today, with the people of my former parish, in a place I once thought would be my church home forever, I said good-bye to a saint, a dear lady who graced the church militant with her gentle humor and unending optimism, who this week joined the church triumphant.

It would have been enough of a good-bye, or rather a 'fare-well sweet sister' had it not been in such a poignant location, among a people I loved and lost, had it not been in such a time when I again am faced with loving and losing. I know that I shall see my dear sister again, but not as soon as I would like, not with the easy access we once had when our worship was in the same place and our Christian family so immediate and close. I shall see her again, but I do not know when. Anne Gross, rest in peace... until we meet again.

But it was more poignant then and there... life is like a little death now. To step into the church, and remember when I was their deacon, when they were my people... how we lived our lives and shared our faith journey together. How I don't see them so readily now, how the place is not home to me. How I can never return there, though of course the awkward moment when one dear lady asked me if I might someday come back always has to take place, doesn't it?

And since I left there, I've already left another place, a place I visited last week on a joyful occasion, only to realize that it would be the last time I would celebrate such joys with these people and still be in the same church (that is church with a little c, for they will always be my brothers and sisters in the Christian family). I could feel a separation between us, like the veil that goes between life and death, only in this it was merely between one life and another.

And in all this, I know I am leaving again. I know I won't be able to remain long where I am. I know the choices we are making will again divide me from the people I now love and serve. (Twice in one year is truly too much.)

And yet, in confidence, I know I shall see them all again. When we are not accessible to one another, we are still part of one another, and through it all, God gives promise that his children will again be together. And so, while so much is perishing, there is new life. It is hard to see, but I know it is there. I've had so many conversations recently centered around the dying part, let's not forget the living. And though we may be more absent from one another than we may like, dear friends do not let me be gone from you and let us indeed see one another again.

20 September 2008

More Old Wounds (moved)

While I'm posting stupid things I wrote once upon a time, my mother-in-law asked that I make this available for her, so I'm just putting it here for convenience. I don't think I want this blog to be *about* this tragic time in my life and my diocese, but have some patience with my ramblings. Once I have managed to make it through church tomorrow, without my bishop and rector and brother at the helm, maybe I'll shut up and finish that novel I started this week (reading, that is, not writing).

The Case for Leaving The Episcopal Church
(Note: Fr. Simons' article is found on parishtoolbox.org)

I want to thank Fr. Jim Simons for his thoughtful comments on the situation in the Episcopal Church. On many things we agree, or as I have often said to others, we disagree on strategy, not theology. Jim Simons is my brother in Christ, and the current situation has no power to change that. In fact, I know all of "the twelve" who signed the now infamous letter, the twelve conservative priests who publicly decline to realign. I respect each of them, some of them I count as close friends.

And yet, it remains that we do disagree on strategy. Fr. Simons mentioned that it is not the way of the Old Testament faith for the faithful to set themselves outside the body. He is correct. It was never appropriate, no matter how apostate Israel became, for the faithful to go off and found a new Israel. At one time, my own argument ended here, as do the arguments in Fr. Simons’ document. But there are two fallacies at play here. The first is that the body of the faithful who are in favor of realigning are not going off and founding a new Christianity. The Episcopal Church is not our Israel. We belong first and foremost to a body of believers, world wide and across the millennia, who profess Christ crucified and raised from the dead. The Episcopal Church is only a tiny faction within that larger new Israel. Furthermore, we seek to found nothing new, as that would be an affront to the catholicity of our faith. We seek only to be under the authority of another, already existing, segment of that one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith.

Many have accused us of seeking schism. This is not what we are doing. Schism seeks to separate from the body, realignment in fact seeks fuller membership in the larger body of confessing Christians. If the Episcopal Church were the fullness of the valid expression of the faith, of course this would be schism. Of course, this is not the case. Centuries of schism in the church catholic and generations of decline in the Episcopal Church have left the Church fragmented and the Episcopal Church sliding further and further from the few boundaries of Christianity on which that torn and fragmented Church can manage to agree. Dr. Rod Whitacre once told a class that there is only one kind of schism, schism from the Body of Christ. Regrettably, that schism has already taken place long ago in the Episcopal Church.

The second fallacy in the Old Testament Israel model is that this is not how the New Testament church has functioned. While the people of Israel were always defined by their ethnic heritage, no matter what faith they espoused, whether faithful or apostate, the church does not have the luxury of similar boundaries. The Church has always defined itself by the faith, not the ethnicity. The church has therefore had the obligation to consistently define what groups of people are and are not within the Body of Christ. This sacred discipline was doubtles no more comfortable on either side of the aisle during the eras of the Gnostics and Arians than it is today. It is, sadly necessary at times, for the Church to lay claim anew to her doctrines and draw lines beyond which we may not cross while claiming to be members of the body. We cannot happily sit by while the tithe dollars of faithful Christians go to support the creation of paganized liturgies, apostate theologies, and lawsuits against servant of Christ.

Personally, I find Fr. Simons’ arguments to be a bit naïve. His comments about women’s ordination being a difficult subject for the Southern Cone are indeed accurate. However it is very ungracious to assume that our brothers and sisters in the Southern Cone, having truly exceeded the call of duty in accepting our ordained women in the first place, would be anything less than charitable in their behavior towards us. Still more disturbing is Fr. Simons’ assumption that the women of the church might not be aware that our vocations are difficult for some to accept and that we would not be ready and willing to set aside our own personal positions and feelings for the cause of Christ. I, for one, would gladly set aside my ordination if the body of Christ required it. This is not because I have some distaste for my calling, rather it is because the nature of the ordained call is not about retaining one’s rights but emptying oneself of those rights for the sake of the Cross.

I further find Fr. Simons’ assumption that the Episcopal Church would treat Pittsburgh any more kindly than other dioceses and parishes have been treated and that the Episcopal Church would repent of their extra-canonical actions against the orthodox to date to be a little naïve. The whole idea that this abusive relationship will get any better if the one party would only return to the vulnerability and intimacy that was once shared is, unfortunately, neither a likely outcome nor a responsible risk. No doubt my cynicism is a symptom of my fallen human nature, and yet at the same time we must be as wise as serpents, not leading our people intentionally into danger.

I agree with Fr. Simons on much, including that this will be a painful process. However, the faithful have counted the cost and it is a pain we are willing to bear. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the relationships we have built here in Pittsburgh can stand as a testimony to the Episcopal Church and to the world that no matter what side of the strategic debate we stand on, Christians honor one another and strive to love one another as Christ loved us. I have been honored these four years to serve among the finest clergy and most inspiring Christian men and women I have ever met. I pray those relationships are not ended over issues of strategy.

Old Wounds

I wrote this a year ago and shared it with some members of my diocese. But because of my then parish assignment, I did so anonymously. Maybe it's because I'm reacting, a little ticked off with TEC, kind of want to slug the first person I find in a tacky mitre.... or at least grab such a person and shake some sense into her. Actually, its part that, but I also feel it's time to claim my words. So here they are.

What Do We Leave Them?
October 19, 2007
I have been an Anglican, an Episcopalian, for fifteen years. It was the liturgy that wooed me from my childhood church. I was a young Christian looking for more. A cultural Protestantism, a surface faith, could not hold me. I would rather be an agnostic than a shallow, cultural Christian. Finding liturgical worship was like finding my way home to something richer, more all-enfolding. I had come home.

I thought long and hard, though, before taking the plunge. My only hesitation about the Episcopal Church was this: at the ripe old age of eighteen it was clear to me that the Episcopal Church had done an abysmal job of keeping its children Christian. None of my friends who were “cradle Episcopalians” were really practicing the faith. They were just marking time, Sunday by Sunday, before they would go off to college and graduate from church. Most of them would return for their wedding day, but none of them could really say they knew Jesus. Their lives bore no fruit.

Even at eighteen, I knew that the church I stepped into would be the church in which I raised my own children. I thought long and hard about joining a church in which membership would be a parenting handicap. I knew that I wanted my own children to know Christ. It was heartbreaking to choose a church which I could not trust to assist in that venture, but at least I can say that I went in with my eyes open.

Even fifteen years ago, America was a nation in search of culture. The Episcopal Church with our liturgy gives young people, Gen-X’ers a sense of belonging and ritual that so many of us desire. With our sense of Tradition, the Episcopal Church (like the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches) gives otherwise disconnected X’ers a sense of place in a long chain of believers stretching back to the dawn of time. This is immensely valuable, a rare and precious gift. It is a gift which can be a tool to attract people my age to the Christian faith. It is a gift that can combat the surface Christianity which so repelled me, even at the age of eighteen. It is a gift which so many in the world at large are seeking. Yet it is a gift which we have utterly failed to pass on to at least two generations of our children. The median age in the church is somewhere in the upper Baby-Boomer range; that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Fifteen years later, I have three children of my own. Having gone in with my eyes open, I work every day to make sure they are discipled in the Christian faith. I realize that the church I have freely chosen has long ago abandoned any real Christian upbringing of children, relegating Christian mentoring to watered-down Sunday schools and pre-digested preaching. In some ways, I am thankful. I have no illusions that I can leave the discipleship of my children to the work of the church. I take up my task as a parent with eyes open and heart willing.

At the same time, I see the children of my parish as they grow up and graduate from church. I can count on one hand the number of kids who will likely come back, voluntarily, when it does not involve pleasing their parents or finding a decent backdrop for their wedding pictures. Ministry in this environment is like swimming upstream; how can we disciple the kids when for over a generation we have left the parents as fallow fields?

And when my own children grow and leave this nest, where am I to direct them in their search for a faithful church community, for I can no longer simply accept that a church that has a similar name on its sign will have a similar doctrine from its pulpit. My children can no longer trust the guidance of the church on the simple basis that it is the church of their youth. Within our own lands, our children are like lambs among wolves.

It comes down to this, in the end. When asked why I choose the road that I have chosen, the road to support the realignment of the church, though it will mean loss for me, personally, I have three reasons which are second in importance only to the truth of the Scriptures… three young children for whom the church will be an inheritance. We must be good stewards of the faith for their sakes. For at least two generations we have failed in that stewardship and the inheritance has not been, in its fullness, delivered. Thus I find myself saying that this must stop here. This young generation must not suffer for the sins of their forefathers. We must ask ourselves: what do we leave them?