"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)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just wishing all my blog friends a very merry Christmas. Its twelve days, y'know. Enjoy them all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I am one who stands, in the very throne room of God the King
Drinking in his power, majesty, and glory, and sent
To give his word to man. Now standing before this daughter of Eve.

(Gabriel: Batik on Silk by Elizabeth Jones


To perfection we brought sin,
To sin he brought perfection.
To become man,
so that we might be like God.
To be scarred
so that we might be made whole.
To be bound,
so that we might be set free.
To die
to make us immortal.
To become accursed,
so that we may be holy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why we must pray for North Korea

All major news outlets are reporting that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il has died.

And most of the world will say good riddance. Kim Jong Il maintained concentration camps to rival Hitler's. He was a sworn enemy of the United States, referring to us as "American Bastards" and warmongers while our leaders placed North Korea on the "axis of evil." Name calling is the only foreign policy we have with North Korea, unless you count sabre rattling and finger pointing.

And misappropriated food aid.

Kim Jong Il gladly glutted on gourmet food and Hollywood movies while the People scraped and starved.

But do not think for a minute that there is dancing in the streets in North Korea. This is the only leadership most North Koreans have ever known. And in a confucian culture which values elders, leaders, and parents, Kim Jong Il was, like his father, all of the above. Loyal North Koreans have lost a member of their family.

Never outside Korea has a communist regime passed successfully from father to son. North Korea is entering on a very unstable and unpredictable venture. Kim's son Kim Jong Un may prove to be a good leader or a poor one, but don't think the days ahead will be easy for the people either way.

In a nation where inflation is rampant,
food is scarce,
perceived loyalty is everything,
neighbors spy on neighbors,
Christians are persecuted,
fear breeds accusation,
outside information is limited,
inside information is controlled,
and winter cold is bitter and at hand...
these people, who choose neither their government nor its policies, need our prayers.

Christ have mercy.

One of the versions of this week's sermon that didn't get preached

We like to take the Bible in small chunks, maybe just a verse, maybe a little more, a story, a chapter, an idea. If we’re really ambitious we may tackle a whole book of the Bible, but we take it in isolation, with no idea of how one book lends to a coherent whole. A particularly cranky Old Testament professor I once endured referred to it as “cross-stitch it on a pillow syndrome.”
But the Bible, all sixty six books written over centuries and by many human hands was inspired of one Holy Spirit, and makes one coherent whole, one narrative, one history. And Luke was quite aware of that when he told the story of a young woman and an angel and a moment that would shatter the reality we think we know.
Luke surely remembered another young woman who was visited by an angel. Like this Mary, she was an innocent, and the angel took a harmless and common enough form, enticing her to take and eat. And as Father Paul is known to say, her day did not end well. When Eve ate the apple and gave it to her husband and he ate, the very fabric of the universe was changed. Human kind had been given the power to introduce sin into perfection, and that’s exactly what they did. But in God’s love, right there in the Garden the woman was also promised the power to introduce perfection into the world of sin. That fallen angel, that serpent of old, was forewarned… the offspring of the woman would be the one to crush his head.
Luke would have known the stories of other women, young and old, women like Hannah and Sarah who had no children. Barren women are a theme in Scripture; fruitlessness attributed to the eating of that first fruit. A barren woman was unworthy, to be scorned, presumed overlooked by God. And if she should be left a widow, she had nothing. It happened that an angel visited Sarah, a promise was made, with God all things were possible. Hannah called out to God, a prayer was heard, and not one but seven children were born to her.
And it happened that in the city of Jerusalem, somewhere about 5 or 6 BC that angel visited Zechariah and promised him that his barren wife would have a child. And half a year later, another woman, not barren by physiology but having no business bearing children in her unmarried state, would learn that she, too, was to bear a son.
The Bible, you see, is like a symphony, each movement repeating its theme, each theme contributing to the whole, slowly building until that point where, with the crash of symbols (pun not intended) and the frantic hum of winds, the symphony reaches its great moment, where it all comes together, where the music makes sense.
The incarnation, in the life of the church, is that moment.
Isaiah had promised, seven hundred years before, that a young, unmarried woman would conceive and bear a child. Of course it was assumed at she’d conceive in the normal way, get married and birth babies. But how much greater when we find that a woman, engaged but quite biologically a virgin (you can doubt the Hebrew word in Isaiah means virgin, but there’s no questioning Luke’s Greek… the good doctor that St. Luke was, is pretty certain of the medical meaning of what he’s putting forth here) conceives a child by the mere power of the Holy Spirit.
And so an angel once again visited a young woman, and Mary was rightly afraid. This was no cute cuddly little cherub from some Renaissance painting, this was one “who stands in the presence of God.” This was God’s own messenger, of the ilk that carried flaming swords before the entrance to Eden and would charge forth to cast Satan out of heaven at the end of time. And here one was, right there in the room.
And there are a million reasons for Mary to run. A million reasons to say no. A million reasons. It’s a horrible time to bring a child into the world, occupied Israel, Romans everywhere. She’s betrothed to a man who knows for a fact the baby isn’t going to be his. The punishment for adultery is death by stoning, Joseph could have her publicly shamed, or even executed.
But for some reason, Mary only asks “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel tells her, your child will be the very son of God. Your child shall be holy, the Holy One himself. And just so you know my words are true, your cousin Elizabeth, who could not conceive a child, is now outgrowing her clothes with pregnancy.
Luke knows the story, how a woman known as the mother of all living saw fruit that looked pleasing and denied the will of God in favor of her own will. Now he tells the story of a woman who saw fruit that looked quite difficult indeed and answered “let be to me according to your will.” God’s will, not hers.
And the world as we fallen people know it began to unravel that day.
There is a word in Hebrew, which we usually translate “visited.” But as my favorite Hebrew professor used to say, “its not like visited for tea.” The best translation of the word is to break into the timeline and change the destiny of the one being visited. In this way, the angel visited Mary, and God visited humanity, and the destiny which began at the fall began to be changed.
And it was a terrible time to have a baby, just like every time in which every baby since the Fall had been born. The Jewish king would try to kill this baby, the Roman Emperor would send the young family on a desperate pilgrimage, the world would whisper about his paternity, even his earthly father would for a while consider ridding himself of the whole mess. He would be born in an occupied country, far from home, in a world hostile to him.
And yet, “he will be great,” says the Angel. “And he will be called the son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
And, as if that were not enough, because every baby ever born is born into the same fallen world as he has emptied himself of the splendor of heaven to visit, his name shall be called Jesus.
Which means “God saves.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Preaching on Mary this weekend...

One of the difficult things in preaching is the familiar story, the one that everyone knows so well they could recite it in Sunday School terms in their sleep so that it feels like there's nothing new to say.

One of the difficult things in preaching is to realize that when we have something "new" we think we want to say that it's usually heresy. Orthodox Christianity has been around a while and there's not much that wasn't said in the last two thousand years.

One of the difficult things in preaching is the temptation to be entertaining.

Damn. That is a problem.

And clever.

And a crafter of lovely sermon-art.

Because those things are narcissistic.

So I'm preaching on Sunday, on the BVM, aka Our Lady, aka Mother Mary. And I'm thinking of starting out with a Hebrew word and some Greek.

Which is usually just a sign that the preacher is full of herself.

But I think its cool that Jesus came to change our destiny (that's the crux of the sermon, for the curious sneak-peeker (Dave)) and that Jesus more than fulfills the prophecy about him and that his identity is clear and clearly articulated by some gentile doctor who ran around with St. Paul.

And I think its cool that angels aren't fat little babies with wings, but rather fierce. And I'm thinking of bringing my husband's grandmother's batik on silk of Gabriel who looks like he might be just a little feral. Or at least tough.

I've torn a lot of pages out of my notebook trying to figure out how to structure this thing. I like to type out ideas, but I'm changing my note style for a season, in part because there is no pulpit at St. Elizabeth's to hide behind, or at least to hold my notes. So I'm writing this one by hand, at least for now I think I am. But percolating all these ideas into one is a rough road right now. Biblical theology is like a salad, all sorts of good stuff jumbled up together but hard (right now) to string into a sermon.

Part of it is that the people are new to me still. And part may be that I'm not preaching as often as I was in previous parishes. And part of it is that I think I have lost the overinflated estimation I once had of my own preaching. Rats. It was fun thinking I was good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A few thoughts on the AMiA

The internet has been blessedly silent in the last few days since the majority of the Anglcian Mission in America bishops resigned from the Rwandan house of bishops in an apparent huff. The immediate and expected two days of bustle and then nothing more came from the internet voices. Today I noticed some rather barbed remarks over on Stand Firm, but on the whole, perhaps the silence is as it should be... though it is deafening to those of us who are waiting for the other shoe to drop. How will Rwanda respond? How will the ACNA respond?

But one good thing is that those responses are not happening immediately. Cooler heads seem to be sorting things out, and for that we can be thankful.

But a few reflections:
1. These bishops have resigned on their own behalf. Nothing is up for grabs, parish and priest statuses are not changed. And while, organizationally and ecclesiastically, AMiA has beheadded itself, there is nothing to prevent the existing AMiA dioceses (I think they call them Networks, but I'm not sure) from simply electing new bishops. It would likely be a poor course of action, seen as a public betrayal of the former bishops with no guarantee that Rwanda would accept the new bishops, but it is a sign of how this does not need to trickle down to every parish, priest, deacon, altar guild, etc. in the AMiA.

2. If, for some reason, an AMiA parish or member of the clergy would be better suited to life in the ACNA, he/she/it is no more free to reaffilitate now than at this time last week. No move either to leave Rwanda or to accept a new parish/clergyperson should happen without consultation with Rwanda as the overseeing body.

3. A wholesale move of AMiA into the ACNA is unlikely. The one tragic thing that has come out of this is that dioceses and parishes and clergy are forced to divide their loyalties, to their former bishops and friends or to the overseeing body which sheltered them in the storm. One is near and relational, the other far off but worthy of a particular loyalty and affection. The rest of us are in no place to tell others how to respond.

4. Right now this reflects (and it reflects badly) on certain North American Anglicans, the ones whose names are on the letter. But a free-for-all, parish poach-fest, ACNA support for these bishops or slight to Rwanda, or further division in the AMiA will reflect badly on all North American Anglicans. We haven't shamed ourselves in the eyes of the world, but it will be very easy to do if we don't step out gently in honor and respect, especially for Rwanda's care for our brothers in distress. Even now, Rwanda has not turned its back on the AMiA, let's honor the grace which has been given.

5. Short summary, there are no lone rangers in the Church. Some folks have chosen to learn that the hard way, but the rest deserve our affection and support. We need each other; that's just how we were made.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stand Firm | On the AMiA and the ACNA

Stand Firm | On the AMiA and the ACNA

Matt Kennedy has posted my thoughts exactly.... For those who would like a reasonable read amid the insanity.

In the news....

Someone once said that most of what we see passed off as "news" is really just gossip. Its not something the public needs to know; its something the public wants to gawp at.

And most of it is sensationalized.

And if there's any example of that for the modern mind to wrap around, here's a harmless but obvious one:

"URGENT: Report: Pujols Agrees to 10-Year Deal"

Found on Foxnews.com. And yes the word "urgent" was in red.

Now I'm as big a baseball fan as anyone, and it doesn't take much to know that Pujols is the human baseball machine of our era. But really, nobody needs to know his private decisions. It doesn't affect our lives other than cheering for our teams. And it sure isn't "urgent." He'll still be with the Angels when the season opens in the spring... there's nothing here that is going to change between now and next time I look at the news.

People use dramatic words entirely too easily in the media.

(And no, I have no intention of commenting on the AMiA, dramatic words or no.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

On Poverty and Charity

"Some people wonder why we don’t take care of our own poor first. Why send money and resources half way around the world when we have poor people living in our own communities? Here is the simple answer: America does not have poverty. Compared to the poverty in Africa, Asia and South America, what we call the American poor are actually people, for the most part, enjoying a quality of life superior to the middle class in much of the rest of the world.

According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the CIA Fact Book average per capita income differs greatly between the United States and much of the Third World. In Kenya, for example, the average person lives on $775 per year. The average American lives on $47,184 per year."

Please go read the rest over on my friend Fr. Scott's blog.

People say "charity begins at home." But friends, what happens at home is self-service. True charity is reaching out a little further, a little care for strangers or even (oh the thought of it!) for an enemy. There is no faceless, distant "other" in the eyes of our God. Thanks, Scott, for telling it like it is.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Local Artists

I found the coolest gift for my sister-in-law tonight, made by a local artist.

China Boycott year two has definitely taken an "off the internet" turn. For one thing, its almost impossible to know for sure where things are made if you order from big sites like Amazon. And all the interesting native craft sites I found last year are pretty much offering the same fare this year, so two years in a row ain't happening.

So I'm forced from my introverted little hidey hole into my COMMUNITY! Supporting local artists is always fun, mostly just to see what they've created over the past year. While I firmly believe in the message I posted below, there are some people in my life who have flat out told me they will be disappointed if they don't get gifts. As in people over legal driving age who know better.

I hate shopping, but I have to admit, snooping local artistry is kind of like a museum tour rather than shopping. We saw some cool stuff we'd never even try to afford, but it was fun to see it. And I walked about in town, found a few neat places I didn't know existed, saw a few folks I knew, talked with shopkeepers.

What we did buy benefited the local arts center, so that was a win, too.

For those of you in the area, the Sweetwater Center for the Arts will continue their Holiday mArt through the weekend. Cool stuff there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On "Ignorance"

A friend of mine posted this article on the Kentucky congregation which will not allow membership for interracial couples. She wasn't the only one to post this to Facebook today, apparently a lot of people are shocked and appalled and want to tell the world via Facebook. Fine. But this particular friend was perhaps the most interesting person to post the article, as she is a Korean adoptee to Caucasian parents now married to a Caucasian husband and raising two adorable Korean kids. So she knows she's got a horse in this race. No problem.

I read the article. I have several horses in this race too. My youngest, as most of you know, is adopted from Korea. Our family is of mixed ethnic heritage. My kids may grow up to marry someone of another race or not, but either my youngest marries transracially or I get a Korean daughter-in-law some day. Either way is fine, but you know how folks will talk!

I read the article, and I saw in it people I know. My own grandmother, the only time I ever heard the infamous "N-word" used in actual person to person conversation, freaked out at the idea of interracial marriage. She'd been born and bred in those same Kentucky mountains, but a few decades out of those hills didn't change her ideas about interracial marriage. She wasn't being mean, she wasn't being hateful, but boy the idea rocked her world.

I posted a response to my friend on Facebook saying, "I understand this... not saying its right, but I understand. Culturally these Kentucky mountain pockets are very clan-oriented. They come out of the Scottish highlands a few hundred years ago and have been isolated and inward looking ever since. Outsiders come to be seen as a threat to their culture. They're not hateful people but their worlds are very closed. My grandmother was dead set against interracial marriage, even decades after she moved out of those mountains. Add to that the idea that they come from a tradition that takes the Bible as word-for-word literal without demanding interpretation within context (both narrative and historical context) and that early on God tells the Hebrew people not to marry outside their race.... of course he told them that because to do so was to marry outside the faith (which the church still discourages for obvious reasons) at the risk of introducing foreign gods to Israel. When Jesus came for all people, this idea of race shifted radically, but these folks don't realize that. They want to do the right thing, they just have no idea what that is. You or I would probably genuinely like some of these people, they just wouldn't have the tools for understanding us and our families."

In other words, we may not agree with this, but we do need to understand what motivates the idea. We can't communicate with people if we just label them ignorant and backwards, as so many people were doing in the Facebook marketplace. Someone else wrote back that the problem wasn't racism so much as bad theology, and on that I agree.

But I was shocked that others responded to this by stamping feet, calling people ignorant and declaring the "rationalization" of this behavior to be wrong and equally ignorant. I had thought that the root of ignorance is having the information available and choosing to ignore it, and ignorance here seems to fall to those who are told that this is why a small group of people is behaving in this way but choose instead to label that group as somehow less than themselves.

Members of my own family, a mere generation ago, would have agreed with this, not because they were ignorant, but because they simply did not have all the data available to them. And yet they would be called ignorant by those who do have the data today. They would be called hateful too, although these same people would give anyone of any race the very shirt off their backs. There's a deep hospitality in those mountains, very little hate for the stranger (though the nosy neighbor and those who would trespass on perceived privacy and rights best watch their back) in those hills. Its not hate, just clan behavior. But there's also a deep spirituality, not of ignorance but of devotion. Unfortunately its a spirituality that's fallen prey to some of the worst teaching in Christendom.

This is the problem of much of Protestantism, the idea that we're all theologians, me and my Jesus, and there's no canon for measuring the good theology from the bad. But the thing about Christianity is that we recognize that we have problems and that these who have been so poorly taught are not to be scorned but loved, they are our brothers. Jesus died for such as these. The same is true when we look at Christians of other races, Christians who hold to differing opinions, Christians of other nationalities.

To cast off a brother as "ignorant" and "intolerant" without attempting to understand the root of the error, to walk a mile or two in their shoes, is, in the Christian way of thinking, to do unto others exactly what we accuse them of doing. And to watch it happen is utterly, shockingly, horrifying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

China Free Toys

A little help for folks shopping for kids and going China-Free this year! I stumbled across this blog when checking to see if the Melissa and Doug item I had hoped to buy on Amazon (which doesn't give country of origin information for any of their products!!! Thanks for nothing, Amazon.) was made in China or not... I was shocked to find that Melissa and Doug items are usually Chinese made. They go on about their quality, but that's not so much the point as the exploitative nature of Chinese manufacture. But Huzzah, thanks to China-Free Toys Blog, I found an alternative.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Sijo for Dave

Why the hurry? Why the rush?
Advent comes just once a year.
Waiting, fasting, expectation,
The savior draws near to us.
In human form, divinity--
And we waste it all at WalMart.

Friday, November 25, 2011

China Boycott, year two, day one.....

Thus begins my "Black Friday" to Christmas boycott of everything made in China, for the second year. I strongly encourage you all to participate in this! Last year resulted in fewer gifts, but all thought out, fun to give and interesting, elegant offerings. It made sense, to think about what we're doing, do less of it, and offer gifts to our loved ones which reflect our love for them rather than expressing our credit limits.

I drove by the local WalMart on the way back to my mother's house from my inlaws' Thanksgiving dinner. We'd stayed late at auntie-in-law's house (because my inlaws are frankly too much fun for words; these folks should have to come with a warning label) and as we drove by the WalMart parking lot at almost 11:00 pm on Thanksgiving we could see that the lot was already full, not just crowded or busy but space by space from close to the farthest corner of the concrete jungle, full. Full of people mindlessly giving up a relaxing family time, replete and mellow with dinner's afterglow, whose families are obviously not fun enough to wear warning labels in their estimation, who failed to take the time to enjoy one another. Full of people mindlessly looking for deals, submitting to marketing, being flooded with Christmas mutations that scream over stuff. Full of people pouring dollars into China, forced abortions, environmental sabotage, sweatshops, and abused North Korean refugees, in order to buy cheap plastic junk that will collect dust until it breaks and joins the rest of the holiday hoorah in the local landfills. Greedy people encouraging greedy industry at every level.

Whatever your political drum, mindless merchandise is societal death. It brings out the worst in us.

Will I shop today? probably not. But I might venture out. My mother has found a small local shopkeeper, a candle seller here in Knoxville, who expressed to her in casual conversation that she's no longer carrying merchandise made in China. I don't know about buying anything, but I think we may venture over. I'd like to meet her. Thank her. And if the product suits, I might even financially support her courage by buying a few appropriate gifts there.

Other gifts, for those of you who would like to follow in my tracks from last year, have come from the Hunger Site for lovely gifts that give back and Shepherd's Flock a locally grown business where you can actually get to know the people who make the things that keep your toes and ears warm.

So happy hunting. Enjoy the sport of it. Give gifts that give back. Think about those you love. And glorify God in the giving. Anything less is not worthy of the joy and mystery of the Christmas that's coming.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Miles to go before we sleep....

Well, we're taking our show on the road again. They say that in England a hundred miles is a long way and in America a hundred years is a long time. Very well. A hundred miles doesn't seem like much to the American road-tripper, but oh five hundred miles in a station wagon with three kids sure does wear thin. I dread the trip, I complained about it before we were even a hundred miles from home. I got bored, and I got silly. I'll spare you the video I made as we were headding down the endless highway.

There's nothing like a good old American road trip to remind us how big our world is. We may say the world is getting smaller, with our cars, computers and jet airplanes, but slowed down to daily life, we see very little of the world. Our scope is so limited. Slowed down to the speed of a walk, a horse, we're small indeed.

Anyway, I dread the ride back. I'll likely get bored. But for now here I am. And maybe I'll figure some great cosmic truth out on the way home.

Or maybe I'll just go out of my mind with boredom and start watching the kids' cartoons on my iPod and let them fend for themselves. They're strapped down back there; how much damage can they possibly do?

(Don't answer that!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Now We are Six

My littlest kiddo is six years old today. He's been hanging around our house and eating our food for just over five of those years. Its hard to believe how fast time flies. In another five years our eldest will be off at some college somewhere (God willing).

Anyway, little guy is six. The hugs are good. He's reading a bit. He's great at math and taekwondo. He's got a neat sense of humor... I guess we'll keep him.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

I had forgotten; church planting is all about surprises. Some of them not so pleasant, like the police showing up at Edgeworth one fateful night or the multitude of forgotten items that are not where they're supposed to be when they're needed. Those surprises are somehow more easily remembered, they're the stuff of stories. And when the parish is ten years old, they're told at reunions and celebrations over bad parish coffee in the undercroft. But the pleasant surprises fade too quickly and need more to be recorded.

Today we had a visit from Dave (aka OlDave who kindly comments from time to time) and from a friend of the organist who had poked his head in at the old place a few times in recent weeks. I had felt that we weren't ready for guests, we hadn't gotten our liturgical space down quite and things still went bump at the altar. I'd been reluctant to invite folks because we weren't polished.

Too many years in theater in my misspent youth.

Worship isn't a show. It isn't going to be polished. Its about us coming before God's altar to be polished up. And its pride which stands between us and inviting friends to church, almost always.

And I had forgotten that until guests did show up. And no, things weren't polished (one of the -- brand spankin' new first time we'd managed to get candles on the altar ever -- candles almost made more of a light than we had intended (thanks we think to a localized draft from the main doors) and there's still that typo in the service book that I keep forgetting to mention to the rector, and I'm sure any number of other blips that mean nothing to God. The bigger blips are in us, not things that just happen.

Anyway, I guess that means the parish is open for business... we're not hanging out a sign just yet, but if you want directions, you know how to ask. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day, Prosperity, and Just Not Getting It.

We get told a lot that we should support our troops. And I'm on board with that. But as a GenX American, I don't have any clue about how supporting our troops is accomplished. It doesn't seem to me that waving our flag and rah-rah'ing America supports much of anybody except our self-congratulatory self-esteem, self-serving feelings.

Everyone's pretty clear that hollering "bring them home" isn't support, although I'm pretty firmly convinced that wasting their lives in foolish wars is neither supporting them nor preparing our country in the event a not-so-foolish war breaks into our common life. But in an all volunteer army, I can see how shouting "bring them home" is almost insulting, how it says to the manliest men America has that they're not able to figure out what is a wise use of their lifeblood and what is a fools errand.

In wars of old the people rationed stuff. Maybe that's part of the problem. We have too much stuff. Civilians don't have to sacrifice for our troops. And it is all too clear to those who are risking and sacrificing daily that we wouldn't, as a nation, be willing to sacrifice. We're glad to have a military class go off and sacrifice, we have people to do that, daaaahling.

Yellow Ribbon Girls are a sweet organization that sends useful stuff to soldiers, like sunscreen and snacks and encouraging letters. I guess that is support and I'm sure its appreciated. But it seems kind of paltry compared to the Greatest Generation's war rations and rubber drives and so forth. And how many people have even heard of the Yellow Ribbon Girls? Yeah. Figured.

I don't know. I think its cool that we have an all volunteer military. I don't believe that countries that can't muster an army without coersion have any business going to war. A volunteer army is a passionate army and that's the stuff real leadership is made of.

But I don't believe that most of the wars we fight are just wars or even "protecting our way of life" these days. Our leaders seem to expend life foolishly, though I admit that they know much that I don't know. I know I would never have sent men off to fight and die in Korea, if I'd been alive in the Fifties, but I also know in that hindsight that's 20/20 that the US Alliance with South Korea bore tremendous fruit on that penninsula (and my youngest kiddo is part of that fruit).

I do have little patience with the icon going around facebook right now that says "Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for what we have; Veterans' Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have." Way to trivialize our lives to our stuff. I hope nobody ever feels called to fight and die for my "things."

I'll admit, I don't say the Pledge or wave the flag. I have one allegiance and my earthly country isn't it. But I do think we can do a heck of a lot better as Christians in loving the people who are called to the military life; men who feel the need to put their lives on the line (whether we think foolishly or not) for the sake of others. But I look around me and I see a bunch of people who wag flags around (and make them into such things as shirts and swimsuits... is patriotism really about wearing your flag on your butt?? That makes no sense to me!) and hoot and holler but sacrifice nothing and love little.

And frankly, I just don't get it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Begin-againdings

I am one of those unfortunate souls who rather likes to let everything pile up on my desk until it becomes such an overwhelming mess that I knock the whole thing into the trash bin and start over. I said to my husband tonight, wouldn't it be nice to throw out everything we own and start again? Partly that's because I have that intuitive perceiver personality type that just goes with the moment until the moment arrives that things have gotten out of control. Partly its due to my personal value for running life lean enough to turn on a dime. I'm not good at it (as my body shape and house clutter both attest) but I value it.

Its rare, in life, that you get the opportunity to knock everything off the table and start over. A major move, perhaps, but that's about all I can think of. And since throwing out the baby with the bathwater is patently unhealthy, I suppose its right that the opportunity be rare.

But that is, vocationally, what a friend and I have done. Sunday was our last Sunday in an established church, one with a real roof and floor, a mailing address and place to keep our stuff. After years of telling the congregation that they had to be willing to let the building and all its contents go, we did just that. We dared to walk away. We now store the entire inventory of our congregation's stuff in a box under the table in my hallway.

Its been ten years since I lived this lifestyle, passing off 'the mobile sacristy' from one car to another, making checklists of what needed to be in 'the box' each week, forgetting things and making do, watching after one another in the event the forgotten stuff wasn't mine, doing all the weird tasks of the church because there's not yet someone who likes to do the behind the scenes stuff like baking bread and buying wine (although we have a lady who washes the linens, may God grant her many years).

But its easier this time, in some ways. There's no mother church to split our time with (though I wouldn't trade the years at Grace in both places for anything). There's heat and light (though Grace in the Mausoleum was utterly wonderous beyond words). But I feel, without that mother church, profoundly that we're on our own out there. Its just us and our meager gifts and the grace of God. And I tend to see the grace of God as if through the wrong end of a telescope, sometimes, as further away and smaller than reality would indicate.

Its different and kind of free-floating. I've served a couple of parishes that spoil their clergy, picking up after me as I go along. There's no one to pick up after me here.

But everythings is fresh and new. I'm good at beginnings. Its endings that I don't do so well. I resonate well with a God who makes all things new.

Anyway, that's the long way of saying, wish us luck. We're church planters again. And that's kind of groovy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ancestor Worship and the Episcopal Church

No tricks, but treats, prayer, music as Episcopalians honor the departed in weekend of celebrations

By Pat McCaughan, October 28, 2011

 

[Episcopal News Service] "Trunks or treats," ghoulishly gripping music, eek-o friendly organic pumpkin giveaways, and commemorative ancestor altars — both real and virtual — are just some of the ways Episcopal churches are planning to observe the tricky triduum of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

All three holidays — Halloween or All Hallow's Eve on Oct. 31, All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and the Nov. 2 All Souls Day celebration, also known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed — are meant for prayers and remembrance of those who have died. In Latin American culture, Dia de los Muertos is observed Nov. 1-2, and is also a day to remember the beloved departed….

Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, Illinois in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago participated in an Oct. 15 communitywide "Green Halloween," according to the Rev. Shawn Schreiner, rector.

Billed as "the healthy, eek-o friendly and fun revolution," Green Halloween is a four-year-old program that began in Seattle and has spread to more than 70 U.S. cities this year, according to the organization's website. It aims to create child and earth-friendly holiday traditions, beginning with Halloween.

Schreiner said Grace served as the registration site, handing out little organic pumpkins to trick or treaters and other visitors to local businesses. "We had a D.J. playing music as well and offered organic apple cider and passed out organic popcorn to folks as they were coming in and sending them forth."

The event "was a new opportunity to step it up a level to begin to have some conversations and sermons around carbon footprint and what it means to make it a healthy environment for those of us here today and for those who will inherit what we have done or have not done," said Schreiner….

…On Oct. 27 Lupe Garcia, 35, spent several hours creating a three-tiered altar for the annual Dia de Los Muertos observance at Immanuel Episcopal Church, El Monte in the Diocese of Los Angeles…..

…Because her grandmother loved honey, Garcia placed a jar of the gooey goodie on the altar, along with pan de muerto, bread of the dead -- white sweetbread shaped in the form of a cross and sugar-coated.

She also placed mementoes in honor of about eight others of her extended family, and two of her children, Emanuel and Lupita, who were stillborn, on the altar. Along with photos are edible pumpkin, coffee and even a beer bottle for a relative who enjoyed a cerveza now and then.

Despite its skeletons and sugar skulls, the Day of the Dead is not another version of Halloween ghosts and goblins, but a day of remembrance for loved ones who have died, said the Rev. Gary Bradley, Immanuel's rector.

According to Latin and Central American tradition, spirits of loved ones return on Dia de los Muertos — Nov. 1 or All Saints for children and All Souls on Nov. 2 for adults — and need refreshments, so favorite foods and beverages are placed on the altars for them.

Sugar skulls bearing the names of those commemorated are also placed on the altar, along with flores de muerto, flowers of the dead, cempasuchil or gold marigolds, and candles. The marigolds are sometimes strewn along the way, to help the beloved departed find their way to the altars, he said.

The rest can be found here.

Yes, brothers and sisters… “Eek-o-friendly” indeed.  Sermons on the carbon footprint, ancestor worship, Latin Paganism… these are a few of TEC’s favorite things, apparently.  Good lord deliver us. 

Totally off any sort of topic this blog may have ever had: Restaurant Review, Saga in Cranberry Township PA

I tried to write all this to Saga's management directly on their web page, but apparently you can only send them short pithy remarks. So I've directed them here, and you can all share in my letter to the management. You might want to take a break first and pop popcorn. It promises to be lengthy and entertaining. I am nothing if not entertaining, right gentle readers?

To: Saga Restaurants

Dear sir,
After our recent visit to your Cranberry Township restaurant, our first (and last) visit to Saga, I felt it worthwhile that you be aware of the sort of experience your customers are receiving.
We arrived on time for our 6:30 reservation on Saturday 11/5. After waiting in a somewhat cramped space behind the party that came in right before us for a while (along with a second party that joined us and cut through to be seated somehow that seemed at the time to make a little sense) the other party was seated and we were told that we would be seated shortly. A few moments later, the hostess informed us that we would be delayed "a few minutes while we find some menus." I was unaware until this time that the Menu is a rare and endangered exotic animal which much be stalked slowly through the kitchens and storage rooms of restaurant chains. I formerly believed that they were inanimate, incapable of hiding themselves either by methods of concealment or escape, usually made of mere paper and easily located by restaurant staff. I am now more sophisticated in my understanding of this rare and fanatstical creature.
Apparently finding menus involves two members of the front end staff taking extensive pictures for an overdressed party of late-teens or early twentysomethings, presumably a late Homecoming event. After several minutes of watching their photos being made, we were again addressed and informed that they were still having trouble finding those menus. I was close to pointing out the small pile of take-out menus on the front desk next to me, when we were ushered to our seats. Take-out menus, however, must be the protected young of the endangered menu-beast and unacceptable for hunting. These grazed freely and unmolested on the desk.
All in all this was nothing more than an amusement, lasting perhaps 10-15 minutes. Within a resonable time after being seated, a soft spoken waitress took the order for our party of five (including two small children).
Appetizers were brought within a reasonable time expectation, and the crab rangoon was quite good. We were a little alarmed to find the soggy receipt for a previous customer attached firmly to the bottom of the plate containing the edamame we ordered, but otherwise nothing was out of place. (For the record, the receipt was not for edamame but for drinks and how it came to be attached to the bottom of the dish is absolutely beyond comprehension unless it was being trained in the escape and concealment skills of the menu-beast.)
During the course of our appetizer, a second family (including another two small children) was seated at our grill section. Knowing the routine in places like this, we expected this would cause delay. We had no idea how much delay we were in for!
I must say at this point that the restaurant is well named. What proceded was a meal of epic porportions, a true saga indeed. While our soup was being brought to our table, I noticed another grill section being filled with people across the restaurant from us. These folks having arrived about half an hour after us, and about twenty minutes after the second family at our table would eventually see a chef far faster than we did.
Our soup was brought, and salads, and that was the last we saw of the wait staff. There was not even so much as a refill on my husband's cup of tea for the next half an hour. In the course of serving the soup, the waitress spilt a noticble amount of soup on the floor, but no effort was made to clean it up. On further reflection, it may be that the waitress was a secret agent for the protection of the menu-beast and the soup perhaps is how these are fed in the wild. When our chef arrived I was concerned that he might slip in the soup puddle, but perhaps unobserved the menubeast had slurped it up in the intervening hour.
After waiting at the table for a full hour, seeing other families come and go, and noting that families seated later than us had already received their entrees, our family became understandibly irritable. The children began to melt off of their seats in one direction or another, their patience exhausted. We began giving forlorn looks to any staff person who passed our table, but apparently they had all been well trained in ignoring puppy-dog-eyes. Another family was seated at the grill across from ours and we considered slipping them a note saying "run while you can."
Eventually an employee slowed near our table long enough for me to ask "Will there be dinner tonight." He looked appropriately confused by my remark and made no reply, but a waitress returned within five minutes promising that there would be a chef at our table "soon."
It was one hour and fifteen minutes after seating that we finally saw our chef. All the other chefs were high-energy and by the time ours arrived we were rather dreading the show. We were fortunate to have a chef who was able to sense that we weren't interested in being much entertained. He was delightful and didn't push the showmanship too far. We also ended up with a second chef croweded into the area, as the other party apparently merited much faster service.
It was fully two and a half hours that we ended up spending on this dinner and just over $100. At no time did a waitress come by and ask if our food was okay or our experience satisfactory. After the chef left, we never heard a single word from the wait staff. They also took a rather long time processing our credit card. Perhaps they were again distracted with the need to hunt for menus for another family.
While we understand that a Saturday night is a busy time in a restaurant, Saga was far from capacity and made no attempt to acknowledge or apologize for the slow service. Our meal was overpriced (and our rice undercooked) and mediocre.
I am not writing because I want coupons (trust me, you can keep them). I am writing because I am the daughter of a small business owner and my father would have wanted to know if his clientele was dissatisfied. I presume that you should want to know these things also.
On second thought, perhaps the menu is so rare in this establishment because starving patrons have resorted to eating them in order to survive.
We won't be back.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eastern Orthodox News: Quick Someone Get That Man a Terrible Towel

Found here!

Appointment humbles new Orthodox bishop

Saturday, November 05, 2011

By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


A tech-savvy scholar and commentator on popular culture has been elected metropolitan bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh.

Bishop Savas of Troas, a 54-year-old native of Gary, Ind., will succeed Metropolitan Maximos, who resigned Sept. 1 for health reasons after 32 years as bishop.

"I'm humbled. It's a very big thing to be entrusted with a metropolis, but especially to follow in the footsteps of such a good and holy man as Metropolitan Maximos," Metropolitan Savas said Friday.

The bishops at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, Turkey, elected him Thursday from atop a list of three candidates chosen by the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Despite his monastic garb and Oxford University doctorate, he said, "I'm from a steel town in Indiana, so I have an affinity for places like Pittsburgh."

He offered to forsake his NFL team in New York, citing the presence of Steelers defensive back Troy Polamalu.

Welcome to Pittsburgh Metropolitan Savas.

Diocesan Convention

This morning the diocese of Pittsburgh welcomed 21 new parishes, missions, and mission in formation congregations. More of them are beyond the "Burgh" than local, and it must be an overwhelming thing to meet with the "beyond the Burgh" district caucuses. Pittsburgh is everywhere, and with tipping our balance a little outside the local Pittsburgh village, everywhere is coming to be Pittsburgh.

We got the first peep of a church that will be leaving us to be joining their own diocese, and by this time next year we may be bidding them fare-well. And as mutterings come to fruition, I expect more church plants to be accepted next year.

On the legislative front, the convention is, as was said of last year's event, 'boring.' But relationally, dynamically, in our character and fellowship, we're anything but boring. I spent lunch today with Pittsburgh leaders from California and Wisconsin, break with Springield, MO. We're raising up churches (and therefore deacons) from coast to coast. And we're faced with how to export our resources and successes and grow because of who and what are being imported, however temporarily.

It is cool to be in Pittsburgh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Student Suspended for Breaking School's Zero-Tolerance No-Hugging Policy

PALM BAY, Fla. – A 14-year-old Florida student who hugged his friend was suspended as a result of his middle school's zero-tolerance no-hugging policy, myFOXorlando.com reported.

Nick Martinez said he gave a quick hug to his best friend, a female student, between classes.

The public display of affection was spotted by the principal of Palm Bay's Southwest Middle School, 74 miles southeast of Orlando. While the principal said he believed the hug was innocent, he brought the two students to the school's dean, who penalized them with in-school suspensions.

According to the Southwest Middle School's student handbook, students can receive a one-day out-of-school suspension for kissing, while students caught hugging or hand-holding are penalized with a dean's detention or suspension.

School administrators said a committee of parents approved the "no hugging" policy years ago, and there aren't plans to change it any time soon.

The school's strict policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, or sexual harassment, and a hug between friends.

Christine Davis, spokesman for Brevard County School said the school's "focus is on learning; therefore, we cannot discriminate or make an opinion on what is an appropriate hug, what's not an appropriate hug," said Davis. "What you may think is appropriate, another person may view as inappropriate."

"A lot of friends are hugging. I just happened to be the one caught doing it," Nick said. "Honestly, I didn't know because I didn't think hugging was a bad thing. I didn't know you could get suspended for it."

Nick's mother, Nancy Crecente, said she plans to ask the school board to change the policy.

I went to school with some guys who would have never survived high school if they were suspended every time they hugged a girl. One of them, a sweet guy who never meant anything inappropriate, was so notorious for hugging us girls, that one April Fool's day we got the vice principal involved in a prank that looked just like the reality posted above. Our friend was called in and written up for "Public Displays of Affection" and it wasn't until he'd gotten the whole treatment that the vice principal handed him an envelope (aka "letter home") that was really a note from his friends saying we'd hoaxed him.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

What I find most amazing is the principal saying that because the focus is on learning they can't discriminate between a hug and harrassment. Last I checked, learning was all about discriminating between right and wrong, good and bad, correct and incorrect. Its like saying that because the focus is on writing they can't be bothered to teach research methods. Who are these people?

The mother of course, plans to take this to the school board. Good for her. But may I suggest she simply vote with her feet. Get her kid out of there.

And newsflash to school systems: in-school suspension is far worse for the kid than at home suspension. I never knew why schools deluded themselves into thinking it was the other way around. Heck there's all sorts of cool stuff to do at home. School is not the priviledge you think it is. And sitting in the suspension room staring at a wall is only moderately less boring than what most kids experience in the classroom anyway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Taking one for the team

My son plays flag football. He's fourteen, fast and agile. Not much of a real football player type, but he's a good flag puller. The top six teams are in the play-offs tomorrow, and fifth place Allison Park is on the field bright and early.

And in the last few minutes of the last practice, guess who got smacked in the face, hard, against another player's shoulder. He's being good natured about it, but he's got a good sized knot and is guaranteed a bruise to match by morning. He does not want to play tomorrow morning.

But he's going.
He's going so his teammates can see that he's okay. He got hit hard and an injured teammate is bad for morale. They need to know he's fine.
He is going so that he can be there for his team. If he'd broken both legs, he'd still be going. They need to know he's there for them.
He is going so that the teammate he collided with can see that there are no hard feelings. They'll see each other in class on Monday, but sooner is always better for such things.
He's going, hopefully, to play in the tournament. He needs to know that he's not as injured as he feels and that he can shake it off with the best of them.

So my young'un is going to play football tomorrow, with a bruised up face, and hopefullly a black belt attitude. He's probably still going to have that bruise a week later when he competes in a martial arts tournament.

And whether he brings home a trophy or not, once that bruise fades, he'll have lasting reminders in who he is becoming, how he handles crisis, and how he remembers to put a team first.

And it seems that is a good lesson for the adults around him, too. In crisis, turmoil, on the rough waters the church is sailing, every man for himself is a doomed philosophy. But catholicity, unity, the things the church is to be, will make us better through and in response to the adversity, once all is said and done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fifteen authors, for good or ill

There's this thing going around on Facebook... its been there for ages, where you are supposed to take no more than fifteen minutes to list the fifteen authors you find most influential. I thought I'd bring this over here, though, because I like the question and want to spend a little more time with the idea, not just making a list but thinking about why. So here's my list:

1. John the Evangelist-- I think it would be cheating to say "the Bible" or to list other biblical writers in the next fourteen spaces, so I'm boiling down the expected Bible entry to just this one. Why John? Well, because with John (who I firmly believe is the writer of not only the Gospel, but also the Epistles and Revelation, modern scholars can say what they like to the contrary, but I don't buy it) its not just about his content but about the way the mind is shaped to soar to new heights in theologically shaped devotion. The language of John is rich and lush and vibrant, just like the whole incarnation and resurrection, kingdom and creation that John spreads out at our feet.
2. Ephrem the Syrian-- his poem "On the Death of a Deacon" defines the order of deacons, a fourth century voice every deacon should hear. I know, that's the least of Ephrem's wonderous written works, but for me, its everything.
3. Victor Hugo-- unabridged, thank you. Les Miserables is almost cliche, but the full version of Hunchback of Notre Dame is hautning and deep and, well, miserable. I was so offended when Disney sank their claws into Hugo's work.
4. Thomas Hardy-- Similar reasons, only the Jude the Obscure, Mayor of Casterbridge... Hardy plumbs the depth of human desperation
5. Gustav Flaubert-- because Madame Bovary taught me, when I was only seventeen, that our own problems always seem huge in our own eyes and maybe it is a bad plan to idealize what we think other people have.
6. Elisabeth Fiorenza-- Because the overly verbose waste of time that is entitled In Memory of Her that so awed my classmates, taught me to question people with PhD's and that maybe, just maybe, the biggest windbag in the room wasn't the smartest and a twenty year old undergraduate might just be able to shoot holes in the writer's argument.
7. Thomas Aquinas-- Summa Theologica, nice and all, but for me its about the hymnody.
8. Linda Sue Park-- a peek into the history and people of Korea, in story and suitable for children.
9. Cranmer-- Book of Common Prayer... 'nuff said
10. Arthur Miller-- the Crucible. My first introduction, as a high school freshman, to the meaning of the word witch hunt, the importance of going against the tide, and the possibility of mass hysteria, and how the good guys are really never all good and the bad guys never all bad.
11. Douglas Wilson-- Angels in the Architecture and a lot of good stuff on homeschooling and culture and the tools of classical education. But he also makes me scream for his uberpresbyterianism. But the word is influential, not necessarily favorite. Althought Angels in the Architecture is definitely a favorite. Everyone should read that.
12. Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise-- because I bought into the classical education model. And because I've used their stuff to teach my kids. And because I wonder how or if Bauer really does have the life I dream of or if she fakes it.
13. Allen Ross- Because exegesis is beautiful, like music or painting and literal doesn't mean closed minded or ignorant and serious scholarship can be joyful.
14. Abraham Joshua Heschel and Chaiam Potok-- they share this spot because, between the two of them, Hasidism captured my imagination. And suddenly Christianity didn't have to exist in a vacuum.
15. Jodi Picoult-- I disagree vehemently with her politics, with which she infuses every single book, but she's not afraid of controversy and she sure can weave a story. I read her when my brain wants to take a little vacation.

There you have it... I wonder what this says about me. I have a few honorable mentions too:
David Mills, Saints' Guide to Knowing the Real Jesus
Simon Winchester, Korea, a Walk through the Land of Miracles
Matthew Polly, American Shaolin
Sharon Shinn's Archangel series
Heilie Lee, Still Life with Rice
Simon Weisenthal, The Sunflower

These didn't change so much how I think, but they made me think a little bigger somehow. And isn't the mark of a good book the captivity of the imagination?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PA Supreme Court, Adult Supervision, and other things that are obviously not so obvious

My nine year old was reading the intstructions on his new remote controlled helicopter yesterday. He's been through a million of these little "pocket copters" as he calls them, and when they inevitably break they become electronics projects. So he's reading the directions and warnings out loud, some of which are a bit amusing. Finally he comes to "Adult Supervision Required" and he adds in his cynical nine year old voice "ha ha."

I'm really not sure why adult supervision is required for a pocket copter, except that my nine year old is inherently dangerous anyway.

But kind of like the "contents may be hot" labels on disposable coffee cups, the courts sometimes require us to state the obvious to cover our butts. And if we fail to do so, we have legal precedent that on our own heads be it. Heck, you can probably sue in this day and age if the weatherman predicts clouds and you neglect sunscreen and get burned. Look up, figure it out.

Adult supervision required.

So the PA Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of the Pittsburgh church property case. This is a clear case of failed butt covering on our part. The strict interpretation of the Pittsburgh stipulation seems, to me, to sign over pretty much everything. And the courts seem to be agreeing with that. The property ownership is as clear as looking up reveals a cloudless sky. Its obvious that churches don't 'belong' either to individuals or denominations but to God. It is just as obvious that the fair and kind response is to let worshiping communities have the buildings they've maintained and sustained for generations. But the stipulation says you have to put "contents may be hot" on your coffee cups, "buildings may be taken" on your cornerstones. The stipulation signs away all logical and compassionate answers to the questions that ordinary circumstances would consider too mundane to bother asking.

So we lost. I hope its over. Like every other petty, greedy lawsuit out there, the victors can count their ill-gotten gains, legally gained sure, but legal abuse. And the losers can move forward, do mission, love Jesus.

And hopefully we won't have to remind normal parents to pay attention to their kids.
or coffee drinkers that their beverage is hot.
or Christians that its wrong to sue one another.
or churches that their churches, their lives, their sacred honor is not their own.
or dioceses that those things don't belong to them either.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TEC-Pittsburgh and Mark Lawrence

My friend the Anglican Yinzer has posted some entries which made me wonder a few things. I posted my initial remarks on his site, but I thought I'd expound here, because its still rattling around in my mind.

Way back, (a long time ago, children, before there was an ACNA... amazing, I know) when we were all one diocese here in Pittsburgh, the conservative clergy (or so called) gathered together to try to figure out what we should do about the problems we were facing. We had already pubically declared that we would stand for the Gospel "whatever the cost" and had begun to calculate that cost.

There were three major groups of opinions, all firmly held and boldly proclaimed, but the minority opinion was that we should "Stay in TEC and build a firewall" against the influence of the national church. The main proponent of that idea was Jim Simons, of subsequent TEC/PGH fame. Jim assured us that we could remain faithful and remain within TEC and protect our people from what the national church was doing. This was the start of the twelve conservative clergy who then broke ranks with the rest of us to attempt to maintain relationship with TEC.

Maybe I'm naive, but when the real split happened and those twelve stayed behind in TEC, I figured that would really be their strategy, made more difficult for the fact that the voting majority had just left (I can sympathize with that). I was a little shocked when it seemed that they were no longer trying to build that firewall and were in fact welcoming TEC into the diocese. Had something changed?

But now I really wonder. Over in South Carolina, Mark Lawrence has publically proposed exactly what the Pittsburgh Twelve once believed so strongly in that they were willing to be seen as betraying their bishop and friends, to stay in TEC and build a firewall. Bishop Lawrence has never made a move to leave TEC and it looks for all the world that he has no intention of leaving. All he's done is to attempt to make a firewall.

I understand why TEC is a little paranoid. There was a time after all when Bishop Duncan thought he could stay and work within the system, too. From the TEC point of view, that didn't work out so well for them. But what I don't understand is why the people who know best the strategy of working from within haven't made a peep in Bishop Lawrence's defense. Have they abandoned completely the idea of building a firewall? Is TEC-PGH now welcoming the alien overloards? Or are they just afraid for their own hides (understandable)?

Likewise where is the support from the other bishops who claim a conservative position but also plan to remain within TEC? Or has this become an all out witch hunt, wherein to even associate with the suspected is to bring suspicion on oneself.

Has no one here ever read the Crucible? And for those who have, need I remind you that the events of the book were no mere fiction? I'm too young to personally remember the McCarthy era (against which Miller wrote the Crucible, based on the true events of the Salem Witch Trials) but surely the current situation should ring some alarm bells for many who are watching these events unfold. Or have we failed to learn from history and damned ourselves to repeat it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reminders of what interesting times looked like

Re-posting from Kendall Harmon.... just go read it, ye watchers of Anglicanism.

Pre-Convention Hearings

Well, it promises to be a boring convention. Most of the resolutions are simple procedural matters to clean up the details where the canons and day to day practice differ. Nothing here is a matter of salvation, ultimate importance, or the lowest level of intrigue. If last year's convention was described as "boring" this one promises to induce coma.

For one ordained into an active battlefield, where every vote in every convention would lead us further down one path or another, a pivotal moment, a weighty matter, this era of conventions is a bit lackluster. Its a rough but necessary lesson that the Church does not exist to feed my sense of self-importance and entertainment. While I'm not one of the major combatants (to whom we owe a great debt in many cases), or a political animal (like my friend over at anglicanyinzer.blogspot.com), I am rather fond of friendly debate. A diocesan convention where there is no disagreement seems to be a waste of time and money. I'm not sure why we can't just show up to dinner on Friday night, and afterwards take ten minutes to a-okay the resolutions and go home.

But I'm aware that that's a sign of a need to grow up and pay attention to the details (that I'd prefer to ignore) and get on with the work of the church, even its minutae. I doubt I'm the only one suffering from that need... most of us are ready to launch into The Next Great Thing (tm) and want to not have time for boring little things... but God is still in the details, too.

So I guess we have some growing up to do, or at least I do (surprise, surprise), but it was nice to spend more time in the post-hearing beer session than in the hearings themselves.

And members of the press, if you're looking for anything intersting happening in the diocese next month... well, let me know if you find anything. For now the interesting things are far from newsworthy, just building relationships and doing day to day ministry, and the occasionally utterly non-exciting entertainmentless resolution on the Convention floor.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LolSaints


I just now discovered this little blog... and I thought a few of you kindred spirits warped souls would find it amusing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homeschool Mom Prepares for Two Days Away....

Its an overnight, how hard is this? Throw a clean outfit and toothbrush in a bag and walk out the door. Not, definitely and profoundly not rocket science.
Except that my kids are home schooled. At vastly different grade levels. And Dad gets stuck with their pianolessonfootballpracticespanishgreekandkorean flashcardshomeschoolstudycenteronlineclasstaekwondoprojectstoemailtoteachertesttostudyfornewbooktoreadforhomeschoolgroup insanity routine. Most of which rattles around in my head and never sees its way to paper. Ever.

So I'm leaving my husband the usual two days worth of lesson plans. Writing down the plan itself is easy. We all do that. Its the sorting out of how he should record the work, where he can find the online and study center assignment sheets, and passwords for online classrooms that takes a while. I'm sure I've forgotten something. To date I have left him the following notes, all in a haphazard pile to be enjoyed tomorrow... while most wives leave little love notes I've left the following:

ALL OF ISAAC'S ASSIGNMENTS ARE IN THE WHITE NOTEBOOK. LOG HIS HOURS!!!!

(This is an easy note since Isaac is 14 and better be able to figure out his assignments for himself. Except his Art History project, which can wait until I get home. Its a necessary note though, because the white notebook is, conviently and thoughfully, otherwise totally unlabelled. Yup. It makes sense to me... it only needs to make sense to me, right? Right??)

N: FLL#63,64, S.W. two pages, Math 1 less./day, Ginger Pye, SOTW5B, VP>> EVERYTHING ELSE IS IN HIS CARS BINDER!!!

M: WORKBOOKS IN DESK, Math 1.5 less/day, Ginger Pye, S.W. two pages, 100EASYLESS#37-38

Does any of this make sense to anyone who doesn't homeschool? Its like a super secret code. I bet the Taliban is trying to crack this sucker as we speak. My world is a pile of books that only my mind ties one to the other.

And crud, I forgot to remind him to make N practice the Gettysburg Address. Daily. Ratz.

And I'm going to be behind when I get back. There's no mention above of any of their language studies, except Isaac's Spanish (in the white notebook!).

But to those readers who might homeschool it does make sense... I bet you can see exactly how my day goes from those lines of familiar initials used in internet speak so frequently you almost forget what the actual programs and titles they represent are. Add to that the Wednesday piano lesson and Tae Kwon Do lesson and the Thursday football practice and I can account for almost every significant chunk of time between when I wake the yard apes and when they're done with school. Its like a secret Homeschool Handshake... Most people ask "what do you do?" homeschoolers ask "what curriculum do you use?" "FLL/SOTW, SWB is my homie!" "Oh,yeah, us too! Are you using OPGTTR for your kindie?" "Nah, we have been using EZLESS. since the eldest learned."

Its like a blinkin' secret handshake to know which homeschool tribe you belong to. Classical, Unschool, Traditional School at Home, Online, Charolotte Mason??? Or maybe there ought to be a flow chart...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Anger, Charity, Politics, and Sin.

A friend of mine posed the question on Facebook, why are Americans so angry at the poor? He was responding to a very well written piece found here.

I like the article, particularly the first part, because the writer articulates well the human sin behind the anger that the middle class is expressing toward the poor right now. We're angry because we guard our wealthy, basically, those treasures where moth and rust consume and thieves (and governments) break in and steal.

What the article fails to articulate is that most people are not angry at the poor directly but at the government who is taking their hard won possessions and distributing them without their consent. The poor are, more precisely, caught in the crossfire.

I remarked to my friend that: Before "entitlement" spending and welfare initiatives, the poor had faces and charity demanded love and relationship. We've taken a lot of those opportunities away with government control of welfare.

And here is where the crux of it lies. Its not in defending one's own wealth, we're supposed to give it away. What the welfare state has truly taken from the "rich" is the opportunity to give freely. When giving is forced, it becomes a begrudged burden. When giving is forced and then given to someone whose need is never truly seen by the giver, it becomes faceless and sterile. And love is lost. And relationship is lost.

Jesus said anyone can give good gifts to his friends. He's right. It is much harder to give to our enemies, strangers, the sterile, faceless need. But when we don't even have an opportunity for relationship to enter into giving, the fallen world becomes resentful and downright angry, not only at the government that takes and mandates but at the one who, often innocently, receives.

My political bias is libertarian. But I also understand that in a fallen world, libertarian becomes libertine and eventually anarchy. I know that we can't maintain a true libertarian utopia. We're too broken, and outside of the liberty of Christ's Kingdom, which comes from true unity and submission, it will never work. And so pragmatically I figure that governments will do what they will do, and rather fatalistically and cynically I figure there's not much point in political rhetoric.

But I do see a real unhealth in taking the responsibility for charity from the hands of the people. Charity should be the result of libertarian sort of giving. Taxation giving isn't giving at all, and both the modern democrats and republicans would rather take what is not their and use it for their own agendas, rather than consider how to return financial management (including giving) to the hands of the people.

Have we grown that lazy and irresponsible towards our brothers and our resources that a giant impersonal government thinks it can step in and take that responsibility from us entirely?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The San Francisco Treat


Its San Francisco, made out of Jello... how cool is that??
Apparently the "artist" is Liz Hickok, who does stuff like this pretty regularly. On one level its the weirdest thing ever, on another level... well this just looks awesome!!! Anyway, for your viewing enjoyment, folks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

While I'm busily posting desperately important news stories...

Drunk Swedish elk found in apple tree near Gothenburg
The elk was apparently searching for fermenting apples when she got stuck

A homeowner in southern Sweden got a shock when he found a drunken elk stuck in his neighbour's apple tree.

The animal was apparently on the hunt for fermenting apples when she lost her balance and became trapped in the tree.

Per Johansson, from Saro near Gothenburg, found the elk making a roaring noise in the garden next door.

He called the emergency services, who helped him free the boozed-up beast by sawing off branches. She spent the night recovering in the garden.

The next day she took herself off into the woods with her hangover.

It is not unusual to see elk, or moose as they are known in North America, drunk in Sweden during autumn, when there are plenty of apples about.

Other residents of Saro had seen the elk on the loose in the preceding days.

Mr Johansson said the elk appeared to be sick, drunk, or "half-stupid", the Associated Press reported.





There's even a picture:

Is there a twelve step program for moose??

Rowan to resign????

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William set to quit next year


The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to resign next year, nearly a decade before he is due to step down, it can be revealed.

Dr Rowan Williams is understood to have told friends he is ready to quit the highest office in the Church of England to pursue a life in academia.

The news will trigger intense plotting behind the scenes over who should succeed the 61-year-old archbishop, who is not required to retire until he is 70.

Bishops have privately been arguing for Dr Williams to stand down, with the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, telling clergy he should give someone else a chance after nearly ten years in the post.

Lambeth Palace would not be drawn into confirming or denying whether the archbishop will be leaving next year.


A friend of mine posted this to Facebook, but I don't see it reported in any of the usual places, so I thought I'd pass along for y'all.
The rest is here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nuts to you!!!

Well, soap nuts anyway.

I've been reading, once again, on how toxic our world is and how simple things like our laundry deterget are going to, at some unknown time, rise up in the middle of the night and murder us all in our beds.

Okay, not really.

I'm not much of an environmentalist per se, since I am pretty sure all the hooplah in the media is bunk, phoney science, and propaganda to keep us all in line. But I do believe in good stewardship of the earth, and I don't trust big corporations to decree on what's healthy and good. Nope not at all. So I've come to the conclusion that "better living through chemistry" is usually a lie and that the less chemical mess we pour on our lawns, water systems, and bodies the better.

Over a couple of years of going more natural in my housekeeping (however lackluster my housekeeping skills may be) I've grown to seriously dislike chemical smells, even and especially those that are supposed to be "mountain fresh" or some variation on the theme. I switched to unscented, then to natural home-made stuff. I've saved a bundle in cash.

Some of the stuff doesn't work as well... but a lot of it does. Castille soap, watered down, and a good shot of lavender oil makes a really good bathroom cleaner. A sprinkling of baking soda beforehand turns the spray soap into a scrub. If you're interested in how to do such things, the book Better Basics for the Home is a great resource.

My garden is organic, mostly from lack of care, but I've come to the point where I can't manage to pour pesticides on potential food, my lawn, or places where any human I've ever known is likely to hang around. I eat organic blackberries for free because they grow wild near my house. The herbs I cook with are equally orgainc, again mostly from laziness on the part of the gardner.

I am convinced that CFL light bulbs are not only ugly lighting but a massive environmental disaster in the making. And that antibacterial hand goo causes superbugs and weakened immune systems.

And I have learned how to do organic laundry. I stumbled a while ago across a product called "soap nuts" (this is not an advertisement) and thought I'd try it out. I found a recipe for using soap nuts to make liquid laundry detergent. The problem was that, according to the website where I found the recipe, the detergent spoils pretty quickly. So I made my own (nicer smelling) adaptation. And a while back someone asked for the recipe. I promised to offer it IF it worked. And so here it is:

Organic Laundry Soap
8 cups water
16 Soap Nuts
a big ol' handful of organic due to lazy gardening practices dried lavender

Boil up the whole mess for half an hour (of actual boil time). Allow to cool and ironically store it all in an old oxyclean canister.

One load of large load of laundry takes two ounces of liquid. The lavender slows the spoilage of the soap nuts liquid, but storing it in the fridge won't hurt either. :) Lavender is kind of antibacterial. Yea.

So that's my domestic posting for now. There ya go.

And stay away from CFL's. No joke, they're nasty.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Close of the Fair

The county fair is officially over! I'm thankful. Every day we've had to haul out to the fairgrounds and feed my middle child's show rabbit. Today required two trips, one to feed and one to close out the rabbit barn. I'm very glad to have the time back in my day now that the fair is done.

But its a little sad, too. I don't much care for the hoorah of a county fair, but the quiet of the day is a nice time to go visit. And the end of the fair means the end of the 4H season. While 4H drives me nuts most of the time, the kids are good kids and my kids will miss them until summer. Summer friends are interesting friends, on for a while and never with hard feelings apart for most of the year.

And I was proud of my kiddos tonight. The eldest helped the bunny club leader's husband haul rabbits and cages back and forth between barn and car, even though he's had nothing to do with bunnies all year. The youngest was the most enthusiastic cage cleaner I ever met, sweeping and chatting with the other bunny owners. He made a huge impression tonight as he cleaned cages for bunnies that weren't his own. The whole idea was for his bunny club leader, who's given so much to the kids all year, not to have to spend all night in the bunny barn.

Middle boy now wants to run a bunny kennel, so people who go on vacation can board their rabbits. Its a cool idea, since its easy to board the dog, but we always have to wrangle a friend to watch the bunnies. But mostly middle boy just likes to play with rabbits and wants to be around hundreds of them. I'm sure he envisions a booming business!

There's something neatly mature an entrepreneurial about the county fair. Its cool to see people showing their skills, winning prizes, demonstrating the talent hiding in our little corner of the world. For one week, amazing skills, not just in farming but in art and baking and whatever else lurks at county fairs, come out of the woodwork. And you know, people seem to go back in time to a kinder age. Especially during the day, when the midway is closed.

Thanks again Big Knob Fair. See you next year, I'm sure.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Indigestion

I'm sure its just the fact that my dinner took place at the county fair last night, but I feel miserable.

It doesn't help, however, that I looked at today's news. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh is reporting that All Saints' Rosedale has had to vacate their property. Of course in the never-ending media he-said-she-said game, the Episcopal Diocese says they never forced anyone to go anywhere, as if cuddly ol' TEC would be glad to just let bygones be bygones.

But the bottom line isn't money, it never is and never will be. The bottom line is that my good friends in Rosedale refused to turn their back on the Anglican Church in North America. Yes, Rosedale has publically stated that they couldn't afford the TEC diocese's price on their building, but disaffiliation with the ACNA is a non-starter for most everyone I know over here in Anglican Pittsburgh. There's not a price low enough that most of us would be willing to turn our back on our brothers and sisters. TEC needs to understand and get used to that.

We've already been through one split, where we have to turn and walk away from friends and loved ones with whom we shared our ministry and our lives. We didn't walk away from those relationships lightly, we preferred not to walk away from them at all. Don't our friends in TEC see how much we loved them, how we grieved to lose them? Why would they think we'd then so lightly be able to walk away from the friends in ACNA with whom we've been through so much, whom we love with the same love. We've lost enough, relationships that will never be the same. We know we can't go back again.

Do they not understand that nothing short of the cross of Christ could have ripped us from our friendships in TEC? If we were following the Cross when we left, how can we turn from it now. We have paid the cost in our friends, what a petty price is a building.

I'm honored to serve alongside my friends in Rosedale, who now will abandon the building they've loved and cared for and worshiped in for generations. They're the real deal, and they get to prove it by paying a visible price.

I can't presume to speak for a diocese, or even for my little parish. But I can speak for myself... on the one side I see friends willing to make sacrifice for the Gospel, for their friends, for generations yet unborn. On the other, I see the institutional equivalent of a petulant teenage boyfriend who whines "If you really love me... " And as every girl knows, such boyfriends aren't worth keeping.

Thanks, TEC, for yet again confirming my decision to leave.

I'll try to remember that the nasty feeling I have inside is the result of dinner at the county fair.

I Have Decided to Become A Math Teacher....

Because apparently I no longer have to worry about whether I get the answers right.

Arizona: Teachers Can Have Accents and Use Bad Grammar

Published August 31, 2011
It's not how you speak English – it's about whether you know it at all.

That was the final word out of Arizona, where the state and two federal agencies reached a settlement over an allegation that the state was discriminating against teachers who may have thick accents or use bad grammar when teaching English-immersion classes.
***snipped****
The agencies alleged that application of a state law requiring English teachers to possess a good knowledge of the English language discriminated against Hispanic teachers and students.


Glad to see Arizona is keeping the best interests of the students at the forefront in all of this. Didn't you read in the Declaration of Independence that all expressions of the English language are created equal? I honestly don't care about the accents... but good grammar is best taught by exposure.

Oh for crying out loud.

Monday, August 29, 2011

County Fair

My children seem set to take home a bundle (by kid standards) from the county fair. We went by today and saw all the blue ribbons on the 4H projects (mostly for lack of competition... 4H has a lot of ribbons and not always a lot of kids) and entered the usual photography for the youth open. Littlest guy entered a pumpkin. We'll see how he does, but he's the only one that did any garden weeding anyway, so I say he's the only one who has rights to enter the one thing that's ready in our garden... a almost ripe pie pumpkin.

And middle boy will be showing a rabbit on Wednesday.

There's a lot that a kid can learn from the 4H skill of showing a rabbit: how to talk to adults while handling a sqirmy little animal, how to make eye contact and enunciate, remembering to ask if there are any questions. And then there are the random facts about the animal, breed, variety, length of gestation, common diseases. He's learned a little bit about compassion (as rabbits can be fragile little fuzzy creatures) and firmness (as they try to get away when you turn them onto their backs). He now has one of his rabbits well trained to tolerate being handled and he's much more confident in the handling.

Which makes me think that county fairs are just plain good for kids. Not the hoorah and glitz of the evening, with its rides and games and noise, but the day to day goings on, judgind (winning and losing), a sense of accomplishment and presenting a product, performance, and skill.

I have to haul my bunny boy out to the fair grounds every day this week to feed that rabbit, but its worth it. He'll be cleaning the cage, and making sure the bunny is comfy and well cared for, but its mostly worth it because in the end, he's gotten to grow a bit this summer. I never knew a rabbit could help a boy become a man, but for a certain red headed nine year old, the rabbit has helped him take a step or two in that direction this year.

And one must wonder what next year will bring.

For those who want to come on out, the Big Knob Fair runs from now until Saturday. Rabbit show is Wednesday at 6:30. The kids and the bunnies are all impressive.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Serenity Prayer for Meyers Briggs Types

INFP: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to sing in the shower if there's someone else in the house, and the wisdom to, oh forget that last bit, okay, God?"

INTP: “God grant me the serenity to think of a viable plan for how to solve these problems, the courage to get the ball rolling, and the wisdom to remember what we were talking about in the first place.”

ESFP: “God, oh, hi God!  How are you today?  I was wondering, God, if you’re not too busy and all, there’s a lot of stuff in my life right now that gives me some anxiety and makes me kind of nervous about the future and there’s nothing I can do about it and all, so if you could just help me have, I don’t know, some sense of being not so worried or something.   And maybe help to stand up to some problems that, oh look a puppy! and um, what were we talking about again?  Sorry, I lost track.”

INTJ: “God, the prayer says I’m supposed to ask you to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference, so could you do that for me?  Thanks.”

I started this in a conversation with a friend, it seemed like a fun idea to blog them out.  But being an Intuitive Perceiver, I’m feel no deep personal need to finish all sixteen types, so I’ll leave it for the reader to add on.  I think I like the first two best… but since I’m borderline between INFP and INTP, they’re the types I know best.  Write what you know, right?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lastly, a truly famous sijo kidnapped from the vast expanse of internet

 

Though I die, and die again; though I die one hundred times,

Long after my bones have turned to dust, whether my soul remains or not,

Ever loyal to my Lord, how can this one red heart of mine ever fade away?--

Sijo by Jeong Mong-ju ...

Sijo on today’s gospel

Who do men say that I am, he asked. Prophet, teacher, king?

Elijah, Jeremiah,  scoundrel, or scam?  Crucified risen? Absurd!

How can this be?  He who answers holds the keys to heaven’s gate.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sijo on Sijo, for Dave

Korean poetry in three short lines; rhyme and meter be damned.

Fourteen syllables, maybe sixteen, a single line is formed.

Forty-four, five or six, syllables summed; the deacon needs a hobby.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sijo: In honor of a new school year

 

Pencils’ scent of fresh cut wood.  Papers unwritten stacked neatly by.

History, poetry, beauty and art.  Awaiting children’s eyes.

Softly the cool of autumn, unfolding a new school year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sijo: Korean Poetry

 

On blogging

Thoughts vanish into the wind, let the gentle reader understand.

Who shall read them?  Who shall hear?  The voice of a writer unseen.

A penny for your thoughts; the reader is greatly overcharged.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Little Mysteries

My mother-in-law is moving to a smaller house.  In the process of clearing out the extra stuff, she gave me a picture I’ve always liked.  Its an obviously aged black and white image of a grist mill, framed quite simply, which hung in her living room for years.  Taken off the wall, the back of the picture reveals that it was framed with parts of a box as a backing (much in the fashion my grandfather used to “frame” things with bits of box and electrician’s tape… in fact their marriage license was framed like that, the electrician’s tape being the frame part) and a few very old nails holding it in.

There was a spot on the picture where it looked like the image had been eaten away to reveal the other side of the box parts, and so, when I got it home, I decided to take the whole thing apart to see if i could manage a little conservation work and keep the image from further degrading.  Funny, I had never noticed that damaged portion before, but there it was.

Nail by nail, I removed the backing, gently as I wanted to keep the original cardboard look when I was finished.  I slowly lifted the box portions out to find a thinner box advertising a fur coat.  I gently lifted the fur  box, expecting a fragile image beneath.  That’s where I got my surprise.

First, the image was quite thoroughly cemented to the fur box; I don’t know how or why.  But when it was away from the matting, the top and bottom of the image were revealed.  It turns out that the picture was actually a page from a newspaper.  The section heading and date were hidden by the matting. 

WP_000316

The section which seemed to be worn through was actually an attribution or explanation of some sort for the picture itself, not underlying text showing through the page.  The attribution is mostly illegible, though.

So now I’m left with questions.  Whose picture was this?  Why did someone feel the need to frame a page from the newspaper? Was the framer also the photographer or maybe the owner of the grist mill?  Or maybe it was somebody’s proud mother who framed this page. 

I’ve learned that the Springfield Union- Springfield Republican was a newspaper in Springfield MA.  I wonder how that image made its way from Springfield to Norris, TN before coming to Pennsylvania to hang behind my sofa. 

Anyway, I now know why the picture seemed to hover in its own little world between photography and drawing, why it is aged and yellowed and why I had a sense that if I took it apart I’d find something thin and fragile underneath.  But why someone framed it in the first place, I have no idea. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Norris With Adult Eyes

Of course we took it all for granted. Growing up way out in the country, Norris was the Mecca of places to see and be seen... by other kids of course. All the cool kids lived in Norris, hung out together, walked to each other's houses, didn't ride the hideous school bus. Norris was where the kids were.

This week was the first week of school in Norris and as I came back into my old hometown with my own kids in tow, it seemed really weird that the streets were empty of kids. Probably, when the middle school let out, there were plenty of kids at the old-fashioned soda fountain, kind of Mayberry style, buying chocolate malted drinks and whatever sugary thing they could afford with their pocket money. But in the late morning when I went in for a cup of coffee, only my own were spinning on the stools.

We drove past Norris Elementary School yesterday and my husband casually remarked that he never went to school there. I did, even though it wasn't our district. I was there from first grade through fifth, before moving across the Commons to Norris Middle.

Homeschoolers are we, so off we went to the old Norris Grist Mill. Its kind of iconic, timeless, the destination of at least half a dozen school field trips in as many years that I was in Norris Elementary. My husband notes that he'd never been in the nearby museum. "That's because you didn't go to Norris Elementary," I replied. He notes that he'd never been inside the grist mill building. "That's becasue you didn't go to Norris Elementary."

I can't say I'm all that nostalgic about Norris Elementary, and my thoughts on the Midddle School are far from warm and fuzzy. (Still, Norris Middle School was in 1960 Norris High School, from which my father graduated, and he had fonder memories, I suppose.) Still, its interesting how the places and experiences of our childhoods shape us. Part of me expected to be able to walk right into those schools and still find the same teachers, and the only one to have aged would be me. But now its my friends' children who grace those halls, and some of my friends, the former students of those schools, are back as teachers. And most, though not all, of those teachers I knew are now retired. The ones that aren't retired turned out to have been surprisingly young when they were my teachers, tenured and experienced teachers who we thought had been there since the dawn of time but were really closer to the age I am now.

My husband remarked that maybe you can't go home again; but I don't think its that. You can go back to the places and see some of the same people and intuitively know how to find what you need to find. And it is the sameness that strikes you as pleasantly out of place, not the difference. The man who lived next to my grandmother still lives next to her old house, why is he still there? My same cousin still teaches at the elementary school; her great-grandson is going to be graduating from there this year, will she finally retire?

Its kind of cool how time marches in uneven phases, how some things zip ahead and some get left behind. Admittedly disturbing, but still, kind of cool.