"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)

29 June 2010

There But For the Grace of God...

Stumbled across this one today:
Battle Escalates over Homeschooled Child Seized by Swedish Govt
ADF, HSLDA file suit with European Court of Human Rights


STRASBOURG, France, June 28, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Friday asking it to hear the case of a 7-year-old boy seized by Swedish authorities because his parents homeschool.

“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “A government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image should not be allowed to violate this basic and fundamental human right."

"The refusal of Swedish authorities to respect that right has left us no choice but to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Swedish authorities forcibly removed Dominic Johansson from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, in June 2009 after the family had boarded a plane to move to Annie’s home country of India. The officials did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with any crime. The officials, say ADF lawyers, seized the child because they believe homeschooling is inappropriate and insist the government should raise Dominic instead.

Social services authorities have placed Dominic in foster care and a government school. Christer and Annie are only allowed to visit their son for one hour every five weeks.
The rest is here.

Similar cases have happened in Germany. I find it particularly cruel that government forces can dictate by force the education of children. It seems to me that parents themselves have the greatest "vested interest" in their children's education and the greatest knowledge base with which to custom design a child's learning experience to the child's maximum benefit. If a parent is willing to sacrifice his own time, monies and effort to educate their child, what cost is that to the society? Unless of course the cause of the culture is one of indoctrination, in which case one can only say that such countries must truly fear that they have given their citizens something against which to rebel.

26 June 2010

Brilliance courtesy of my good friend and fellow liturgical connoisseur, Geoff Mackey. He's got a whole slew of these up on his Facebook page; made my week!

25 June 2010


Do you know what I find utterly boring? The latest kerfluffle with the Episcopal Church. When we stood in the middle of the storm, I watched the news intently (usually over at standfirminfaith.com) for the egotistic reason that it pertained to me, it was happening in my backyard. I looked for the names of people I knew and cared about, on both sides. I checked the blogs every day.
But after we left the Episcopal Church, I continued to check the blogs daily, morbidly wondering what would happen next. After a few weeks, I tore myself away from the prattle, it wasn't good for my spiritual health, it was breeding smugness. I watched again when I knew my friends who were still in TEC were involved or hurting, but then from more of a distance. And finally, for a few months I didn't watch at all.

But lately, the last two or three weeks or so, I've gone back to the old blogs. And you know what I find; I find that I merely skim the headlines and move on. If I do read deeper I shake my head a little and let it go. It isn't my fight. I've lost my voice in that debate.

And maybe that says something about me. Maybe I'm still an egocentric three year old at heart, if it doesn't relate to me, then it doesn't matter. But I'm also bored with all the people who wheedle away their hours maligning the Episcopal Church without doing anything, neither leaving nor making an effort to fight the good fight. I'm not interested in small children throwing small rocks. I'm interested in change, moving forward, mission.

I know not everyone who feels as I do is in a position to leave the Episcopal Church right now. Some of my friends are doubtless on the same trajectory but are not in the same place on the road. They still read avidly because the news is still theirs, they still look for people they know. But I think I need something new to blog about, something interesting.

18 June 2010

Catholic Scholar Asks Why Bishops Haven't Denied Communion Over Ariz. Law

The above is a headline (with no article attached, at least at the moment, which I spotted on FoxNews.com. I can't decide if the report is in the process of coming online or being taken offline, but from the fact that there are lots of reader comments, I assume the latter).

Is this what church/state relations have come to? That some "catholic" scholar out there thinks that not only is it okay to use the Sacrament as a political weapon, it's just nifty if he goes public with the idea. I can understand the decision of many moons ago to withhold the Sacrament from those politicans who actively further the mortal sin of abortion, but to try to shape a country's immigration laws? To do this would be utter abuse of the Sacrament. Fortunately, it doesn't seem that anyone out there is taking that idea very seriously.

However.... another headline from today's news:
Obama Administration Planning to File Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law

Every ounce of States-Rights Southerner in me is ready to have an absolute and total fit over this one.... So many aspects of this (announced first in an interview abroad, stepping all over state's rights, the federal government saying they should be in control when they haven't done anything effective to date) just steams my carrots. Now, honestly, I have severe mixed feelings about Arizona's law. On the one hand, they need to do something as a matter of local survival over there. On the other hand, some of it smacks of the concentration camps we shipped Japanese Americans off to in World War II. I won't weigh in on the good, bad, and ugly of the law and I really prefer to not talk politics at all, since it usually just depresses me, but sometimes I just have to ask what in the world are they thinking???

Big Brother is Calling You

Okay, I'm creeped out, and a little ticked off. I got a call just now from my friendly automated Giant Eagle call center. For those of you not local to the area, Giant Eagle is the big grocery store chain where I do most of my shopping. To keep our grocery costs down, most everyone uses their "Advantage" system, which we all know is their excuse to: 1. raise prices on unsuspecting non-locals who may pass through and need something to eat and 2. market at us whether we like it or not. But most of us just sigh and use the stupid little card.

Today I got a call from their automated call center informing me of the recall on Campbells Spaghettios products. Fine, nice of you to call. Except the call went on to say that "our records indicate that someone in your household may have purchased this product within the last eighteen months... " Wait a minute... you're telling me that Giant Eagle has records of my purchases, who I am and what I've bought, down to the last can of Campbells Nasty-O's (which I promise I almost never buy and when I do I instantly remember they are gross as soon as the can is opened... there are absolutely no recalled cans in this house) for the last year and a half??? And you can pull up that information at will and do whatever you want with it???

I'm sorry but I'm a little creeped out about this. Does Giant Eagle therefore have a record of every roll of toilet tissue and every unhealthy food choice my family has purchased for over a year??? Can I expect a call sometime in the not-so-distant future from social services telling me I haven't bought my family's quota of green-leafies or is that information just in-house so that Giant Eagle can pester me with unwanted advertisements that go straight into the land-fill?

Thanks for the "concern" Giant Eagle, but frankly I'm repulsed.

11 June 2010

Old Blog, New Site

Greetings all! I finally got utterly fed up with the intrusive advertisements over at LiveJournal, so I am moving the entire blog over here. There will be a final post on the Live Journal page so that I (hopefully) don't lose any of you in the move, but all future posts will reside here.

And those of you who know how much I hate Google... well, I don't want to talk about it!

05 June 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (moved)

While it isn’t quite the right time of year for “what I did on my summer vacation” reports, I couldn’t resist sharing with all of you what I experienced during my recent trip to Denver, Colorado. I had the opportunity to spend a day at the national offices of Overseas Mission Fellowship (OMF), a mission agency specializing in the unreached people groups of East Asia. God’s timing being what it is, while I was there, I received email from the diocese to the clergy asking us all what our own unreached people group might be. All this together made me ponder on what principles I see at work in our missionary fellowships that might be applicable to the domestic mission field.

The first characteristic that I observed at OMF was that they were perfectly comfortable waiting on the Lord. Here in Pittsburgh, we have a sense of urgency and the intense desire to make an impact for our Lord; but our brothers and sisters at OMF share the same intensity. The waiting, keeping watch, listening, these things are not exclusive of our desire to move forward. Individuals within the OMF structure are transparent in explaining that the system is slow to the point of frustration, but the urgency for the Gospel does not suffer. Slowness comes out of prayer, not fear, intention, not laziness. We may pray a lot in Pittsburgh, but we don’t like to wait, but I think we do realize that prayer is more about listening than speaking.

The result of that intentional listening is the strength of vision and mission shared by the people at OMF. Every step of the vision is articulated to the people (which is something we also do well here in Pittsburgh) and then the people are systematically equipped to fulfill their part in that overall plan. The word of the day was mobilization. Everywhere I went, people articulated the same vision but with their own contributions and enthusiasm because they had been systematically brought along and mentored in their work and faith.

I also observed a sense of community at OMF, not only in the way that they pray together, but in how families were cared for, children welcomed, and joys and burdens are shared. Not only do the staff members come together to pray daily, but they also shared a clear ease with one another that carried easily over to welcoming a stranger into their space. People I had never met before seemed perfectly at ease with me because of our common passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I saw people who trusted and encouraged one another. I saw space given to children (one office sharing perfectly professional pace with a colorful array of toys, and a couple of dedicated kid-in-the-office areas in other parts of the building) and to the artifacts of the Asian peoples who OMF members have a passion to reach for Jesus. All these things, the risks the people were willing to take, the trust they had in one another, and the concerted effort to bring those who are far off near to their hearts were all visible signs of Christ’s love in Christian community.

Third, I saw a culture of adaptability, willing to use whatever tools God presented in order to accomplish the express goal of raising up indigenous leaders for peoples yet unreached. They use the same model domestically while raising up partners in ministry, prayer and financial support, home based leadership. Again came that word, mobilization; we aren’t called to do all of God’s work ourselves, but we are to give ministry away, equip and encourage others, multiply the mission. I suppose it only makes sense that if your entire message is that God has a place for you in his Kingdom, that we must also equip and encourage kingdom citizens to take up the work of the kingdom on earth.

So if we’re thinking of our own unreached people groups, perhaps we can learn to think a little more like missionaries, being passionate, connected, mobilizing and encouraging one another. I am really excited about what I experienced at OMF and I think we have the same potential for building intentional prayerful community here among our leadership and indigenous leadership among the currently unreached of Pittsburgh.