"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)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Yoboseyo? Anglicans who don't speak English.

Okay, I know, statistically, that we Americans make up an itsy bitsy teensy weensy portion of the Anglican Communion. And I know that most of us Anglican-types are in very non-American contexts. But I live here, I don't see it every day like some of my missionary friends do.

And Anglican means English. So you do kind of assume....

I'll be in Baltimore this weekend. And usually we would hop on by the Church of the Resurrection, which is a nifty little congregation. I've preached over there twice; great folks. They have a new priest and a new building and it would be nice to visit. But curiosity and cats and all, I hit the "find a church" website for the Anglican Church in North America. There was Resurrection, but listed ahead of them was a rather odd duck, ecclesiastically speaking. I mean how often do you find a church named "The Korean Anglican Church in Maryland." How many Korean Anglicans can there possibly be in Maryland? Most Korean Churches in the US are Presbyterian (they kind of cornered the mission field over there at some point) anyway. Interesting. Short story; I wanna go.

More interestingly, in the multi-cultural sense; they are a CANA parish, which means they have received some degree of oversight, support, and ecclesiastical whatzit from Nigera. Yeah, these guys must be fascinating. Definitely a story I want to hear.

So I looked for a website. None.
After a little internet stalking, still no website.
So I decided to pony up and call. Yeah, telephone. Retro.
Dialing... ringing. ringing. still ringing. Obviously either no one is in the office on Fridays (clearly not a big industrial strength church, but again how many Korean Anglicans can there be in America?)... more ringing. Sneaking suspicion that the number is the pastor's home phone.
click.
"Yoboseyo?"

Now I know just enough Korean to recognize that as standard answer the telephone fare. I also know just enough Korean to ask for a glass of water but not enough to say "please don't kill me" if I'm ever mugged in a dark alley by a Korean pastor. yeah.

um, hello. I managed that in Korean. Yea.
Rats... then the words of American-centric Euroshame... At least I uttered them haltingly in Korean.... "English... do you speak?"

Thankfully his English, for which he was apologetic, was far superior to my Korean. I can't make the service (maybe next time I'm in the area) which he informed me was in Korean only (no English service in this Anglican Church). I don't mind the language barrier, but the schedule problem is a bummer. Maybe next time I'm in Baltimore. I managed to thank the guy in Korean, learn a more authentic pronunciation of "you're welcome." And I think they're truly welcoming, although obviously a little flummoxed about why a non-Korean speaker from Pittsburgh was inquiring.

Anyway, I hope to drop in some day. They seem really cool.

But mostly I'm thankful that just because you call yourselves Anglican doesn't mean you have to speak English or wear pale skin or eat bland food and tea. I'm thankful that there are brothers and sisters I'm called to love and be in relationship with that don't have to live in my country, speak my language. We're all citizens of a higher kingdom.

And if you're ever in Baltimore; tell the Korean Anglican Church of Maryland "anyonghaseyo" for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Woody Woodpecker

SG204629

This little guy was having an absolute field day on a tree in my yard.  He may still be there; I got bored before he did.   There must just be tons of tasty bugs in that almost dead tree he found.  He’s a downy woodpecker; cute, eh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three blessings for which to be thankful.

1. I am thankful for the friend who reminded me that my friends in TEC/PGH are still my friends and are simply trying to live out what they think is the right thing to do, as am I. I will love who I love, and no one can take that from me. To my friends in TEC, I confess and apologize that I needed reminding.

2. I am thankful that the diocese of South Carolina, seeing what we're experiencing in Pittsburgh, did not shy away from putting their feet on the path to suffering and freedom. Bless you, brothers, in the days ahead.

3. I am thankful for a brief walk, a moment in a grand chapel (not Episcopal or Anglican) in which it became clear while looking at the tremendous stained glass windows that sometimes, what we see up close is not nearly the big picture. And thankful also for the all consuming music of the practicing organist, which began suddenly and ended just as suddenly as I needed to head out the door for a meeting, to be reminded that the beauty seek is all consuming, overwhelming, enveloping and not of our own making.

And if we suffer we suffer for a while. Our true brothers and sisters have seen their buildings burned to the ground before their eyes. Of what do we have rights to complain? But if we suffer we suffer only for a short while. And our Lord didn't stay on the cross or in the grave. And joy comes in the morning.

Post script... A fourth thing for which to be thankful: Girl Scout Cookies that have the basic decency to arrive BEFORE Lent starts... for once.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Be aware.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that one of the stipulations TEC is hoping to make on us is access to ACNA laity to try to lure them back into TEC... (wording more nicey, like to provide for any disaffected TECies who somehow meandered over to the "wrong" side... translation: pilpher sheep.) Cute.

Um, personally I am of the belief that the people are aware of whether they're in the ACNA or TEC and will tend to seek pastoral care accordingly. ACNA clergy owe to the people the dignity and privacy not to publish their names and contact information without their consent.

Amusements at the expense of stink bugs.

Stink bugs are all over the place up here in the woods. Seriously they line the back of my house every September so that we can't use our back door without fifty or a hundred of them falling into our kitchen as soon as we open it. Nasty little things. I read today about a trap that's expected on the market in July... never fear, I'll be test driving it. I bet if we set it by the back porch it'll be full in a matter of minutes... but then what do you do? Throw the whole thing trap and all into a bonfire? I'm sure not opening that thing.

But some folks out in internet land have a better sense of humor than I do and are amusing themselves at the expense of the stinkbug.... hoorah. Here, for your viewing pleasure:


Coasters! The website says to toss a few of those around the place when you have your next party and see how that goes over. Think of the potential here as house warming gifts. Reminds of how about four of the little stinkers came to visit our New Year's Party this year. blast.

And then there's jewelery:


While the idea of smashing the little critters between plates of glass has its appeal, the idea of wearing them on my body does not. Some of this artist's work is kind of cute, until you realize it involves wearing stinkbugs. I mean REAL stink bugs.

Enter stinkbug into Cafe press and you'll find a whole host of items from tee-shirts to ornaments, including a pair of pink underwear with "stinkbug" on the rear. Who thinks of these things? Although I admit to finding this one rather amusing:

Friday, February 18, 2011

The post I was going to post....

For those who read my previous post, it is now set as "draft." If you want it, email me... I'll put it back in a few days.

But I hate it when I sit down to blog something and nonsense that is in my inbox usurps my thoughts. So here is the post I originally sat down to post.

___________________________________

Tourists at home.
One thing that's nice about homeschooling is that we get to actually dig into history, the stuff we were supposed to learn in school but either ignored or forgot. Or both. And the best history is history that happens in places where you are. There's not a square inch of this earth that doesn't have some sort of history to it, but the big recorded stuff has few landmarks.

My middle child is studying the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. It seemed a good idea to go visit Fort Pitt. Kind of like paying homage I guess, but we loaded up some friends and went into town. A beautiful day for it here in Pittsburgh, windy but sunny on the Point of the three rivers. And really the wind was fun. We made "I'm flying" jokes all the way from the parking garage. February and there wasn't a bit of snow left. February and blue skies. February and sixty degrees.

Somehow we managed to miss the more authentic Fort in February experience we were expecting.

Fort Pitt has a nice little museum. A well designed walk-through with dioramas and mock fort rooms and cannons (lots of them) everywhere. An awesome spot of local history; and it was totally and completely empty. My kids got plenty of elbow room, the video presentations were all ours, and no lines no waiting. Pittsburgh seems to have totally missed out on its own claim to historic fame.

That's the thing; we usually visit all the historic sites while on vacation, but nobody plays tourist in their own home town. We make fun of tourists sometimes, but we forget that there is such thing as the academic tourist, not visiting to shop and gawk but to learn and grow. And we miss the chance to learn and grow without leaving home.

The curator at the Fort Pitt Blockhouse gave us the historic tour. We got to chat with her and ask questions. Some how we got to talking about how nobody visits the local sites. She remarked that many people she knew had never even heard of Fort Pitt, locals, Pittsburghers, until she took this job. Don't they know that our city was the linchpin of the Mississippi? That the importance of controlling the middle of the mighty river which was controlled at North and South by the French was a deciding point in American history? Do they not understand that it was the cost of this war that spurred the taxes from Britain that sparked the Revolutionary War? That our humble hometown was a supply center between the Revolutionary war-front and the whole rest of the American frontier? No, I guess they don't.

But perhaps history would not feel so far off and sterile if they walked the grounds, looked through the slits of the redoubts in mock gunfire, walked the paved outlines of the fort walls, pointed out the confluence of the Rivers to their kids, and ran their fingers across a real cannon.

Another thing I noted was that the cannons themselves were most of them artistically designed. They weren't just killing machines, they were iron cast works of art with fleur de lys and coats of arms and images and art. To touch them is to touch the work of an artist past, who knew his work would be grave indeed. To touch them is to touch a world gone by where war had rules and gentlemen had honor and beauty was tangible even in battle. To touch them is to admit our land was won by fighting dirty and to wonder how that has shaped us into who we are and if we're wholly better for it.

But if you don't walk the roads of history even just when it happens across your own path, then how will you know where you came from, and how will you admit who you are?

Let me get this straight....

A letter from Bishop Price (TEC) to the ACNA/Pittsburgh parishes... addressed to Rector, Vestry and Wardens:
As you consider this, I want you to be aware of a canonical determination that I have made as Bishop with the advice of the Standing Committee of this Diocese. Diocesan Canons state that any parish failing to meet its assessment obligation to our Diocese for two years will become a Transitional Parish (Canon XV, Section 6), which carries the consequence that the title of all property held by or for the use of that parish shall be vested in the Board of Trustees for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Canon XV, Section 13).
Under the most favorable interpretation of our Diocesan Canons, any parish that has failed to pay its assessments to the Episcopal Diocese for the past two years has until March 13, 2011, to once again become an active, participating parish in the Diocese, including resuming assessment payments, or its status will become that of Transitional Parish.
My first hope, of course, is that we be reconciled in a way that your parish can share in the life of the Episcopal Diocese again. If that is not possible at this time, I reiterate my invitation that you contact me to begin a conversation seeking an amicable resolution of these property issues. By this all will know that we are His disciples.

The rest of the letter is here.

All comments are my own and don't represent anybody else, blah blah. And frankly I don't have the authority to do what I'd really like to do, which is probably for everyone's benefit, not least of which is the benefit of my own spiritual state. Lucky everyone.

But let me get this right, bishop....
1. If we want to come back with our tail between our legs, after you make sure we're sufficiently shamed, you'll gladly take all the stuff.
2. If we don't come back tails tucked, we're welcome to pay up our "assessments" and if we don't do that you'll gladly take all the stuff.
So basically our options are give you everything or have it taken from us.
3. While the presiding judge in the lawsuit expressly stated that he did not wish to see the mission of any parish interrupted, you'll gladly disregard the civil authorities that granted you hearing, threaten us, and take all the stuff.

But "By this" all will know that you are his disciples? What is "this? By threats? Just whose disciples would that be? I've been generous to TEC as anyone can be from where I sit. I know that some are in TEC who are Jesus' disciples as am I. But whose disciple is it that thinks it is okay to rape the church's theology and pillage her property when the faithful protest? Sorry, fella, but we are NOT on the same side.

I follow a lord who said whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy of him. Pittsburgh faithful, do not look back. That's the lord whose disciples we are.

I follow a lord who said if you're asked to go one mile, go two. There's not a church on this earth, basilica or basement, that is more important than the one whose disciples we are.

I follow a lord whose Scriptures forbid suing your brother, and who insists that it is by self-sacrificial love, love that is willing to lay down our own lives for one another, that all men will know his disciples.

I follow a Lord who reminds us not to put our faith in the things of this world, where moth and rust consume and thieves break in and steal. Stuff is stuff... it doesn't last. I'm not in this for the here and now. In case you missed it, there's a bigger picture.

I see your fruit, Bishop Price; don't ask me to travel the way you're going.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Strange comforts.

Today we managed finally, to bury my grandfather. Not that that's really a mournful thing; I never met him and he died in 1985. But I had wondered from time to time, especially after the last of my grandparents passed away in 1991, if the old guy was out there somewhere.

I guess that's part of what my youngest (adopted) child will experience. Is his bio father around the corner? Still in Korea? Dead? There is hope some day that he will be able to make contact again with his birth mom, and I hope he can, but his bio dad is probably out of the question.

I guess its healthy for our family to have had that same set of questions, that my maternal grandfather was an unknown all my life. He knew as little about me as my son's bio father knows of him; we don't even exist to him. Last mother saw her father she was pregnant with me. Last M's biomom saw his biodad, she didn't even know she was pregnant.

Judging from traces on the internet and mother's retelling of that last meeting over 35 years ago, I think my grandfather had regrets that are the fruit of repentance. Holy shame and the desire to make things right that could never be righted. Its sad to think how many dads are out there who have by their own actions been so alienated from their offspring that all they can offer the next generation is their own regret.

But sometimes regret is a holy offering indeed; and sometimes it can't be fully received as such in this lifetime. Those are the sad facts of a broken world.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Observations from the deep inner workings of my mind.

Last night, I had a dream. Since I almost never remember my dreams, that's notable in itself. I dreamed that we were at clergy conference, the annual social/educational/spiritual gathering of clergy around the diocese. Personally, I almost always enjoy clergy conference and look forward to it every year. Don't ask me who "we" in the dream was, because I really don't know. Just people, a few of whom are real in my life, the rest were just kind of mental filler.

I dreamed that we were at that point at the end of the day where everyone kind of gathers for social time. Speakers have spoken, prayers have been said, food has been eaten, and skits have been performed. Except that instead of gathering for social time, everyone kind of divided up into committees. And in my room, there were half a dozen of us or so, meeting about whatever we were meeting about. It didn't seem important, or at least my friend and I weren't paying attention. We had our laptops out and were each getting reports in from people in other meetings. After a while, we ended up spending more of our attention alternately turning our laptops so that each could read the others' reports. We were more interested in what went on in the next room than what we were supposed to be attending.

And I wonder if that's sort of the temptation in this era, if we're in danger of spending too much time wondering what the other "side" is going to do, what court documents are going to be filed, whose strategy is what, and not spending our time on more valuable and even pleasant pursuits. When we could be enjoying one another's company, deep in the complexities of life and ministry, we are snooping around to see what's going on in the other room.

Maybe, just maybe, the innerworkings of my mind are a metaphor to which we ought to pay some attention.

Or maybe I just have boring mundane dreams.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On losses, implosions, and things that just go "boom" in the night.

Ten years ago today, I was here:

I saw the anniversary video on the local news. Since I'm not one to get too attached to places and things, the Three Rivers Stadium was not exactly a poignant moment for me. It helps too that we'd only lived in the area for four years and only been to one game there (Pirates vs. Reds, Mothers' Day 1998. With some very good friends. Reds won and my then tiny child was on the Jumbotron. Triple oh yeah!)

So we sat from the point of view of our insulated office building, some twenty stories up, and ate bagels while the landscape was forever changed.

After a while, though, even from our insulated office building, you could smell, just faintly the dust that was surely clogging the lungs of every outdoor spectator who had braved the clouds that frigid morning.

Today a friend posted a poignant blog piece about his own reaction to his losses with regard to the implosion of the Episcopal Church here in Pittsburgh. Now that the smoke has cleared a little and he can see the landscape, he expressed no regrets. He did the right thing, but that doesn't mean his landscape doesn't bear its scars. I treasured his words, they could as well been mine.

The smoke has begun to clear here in Pittsburgh and we're beginning to be able to view the destruction. We've come to a place where we can acknowldege that we've lost a lot, that the landscape is forever changed. We can admit that we're hurting; that this wasn't anyone's first choice for an outcome. Some of us saw it coming and signed on anyway. Some are angry because they had no idea that this would be the outcome. Most of us are somewhere in between. And yet I'm not hearing a lot of regrets. Sure we would have liked to have avoided all the anger, division and general mess, but we see it as a small price to pay for faithfulness. We sacrificed, we will continue to sacrifice, because he first sacrificed himself for us.

On the whole, one place where my patience tends to fail is among those who think we are persecuted. My friends, our experience pales next to real persecution. We have not so much as begun to suffer (though suffering will be necessary if we have any hopes of growing to maturity). But as the smoke clears, as we're forced to begin to let go of the old icons of our identity, let's not shy away from sacrifice, even suffering. Material things are just things. Sometimes the landscape just needs to change; you gotta blow up a few buildings to build again.

I guess the moral of the story is that fancy buildings don't matter. Blow them up or build them to the finest splendor; God keeps on winning, year after year. And year after year, the Pirates...

well, we love the Pirates.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

From the Korea Times
'Abuses in NK prison camps unimaginable'

By Kim Se-jeong

Kim Sang-hun, an activist on North Korean human rights, stood before a surprisingly large crowd on Jan. 29 at the Ilmin Art Center in downtown Seoul where the documentary “Kimjongilia” was screened.

“What you saw in the documentary is only the surface (of the brutality by the North Korean regime against its people),” he said.

Directed by Nancy Heikin, “Kimjongilia” offers a glimpse of North Korean political prison camps through testimony of people who escaped from the country.

According to Kim, the degree of brutality committed by the regime goes beyond imagination.

For example, he said, authorities hung 15 women from a crane and set fires beneath them. “They were burnt to death.”

Prisoners facing public execution have all the joints in their body broken in advance. “No prisoner walks on his or her own feet. They’re all dragged to the spot. And they are gagged shut at all times,” he said.

Kim has counless testimonies like this ― all in written form ― collected over the last 15 years. The number of people he and the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, an organization he has worked with since its inception, have interviewed reaches over a thousand.

----------

Kim said he is positive that by then, China, one of five at the members ignoring human rights violations in North Korea, won’t be able to distance itself from the issue.

Prison camps in North Korea serve to “re-brainwash” those who have shown “acts of disloyalty” to the state.

The worst kind is an attempt to flee the country, and if caught, the escapee and his or her entire family are sent to the camps indefinitely.



The movie in question is already released for instant viewing on Netflix. I haven't watched it yet; just stumbled across it the other day and was surprised to find one I hadn't seen. Judging from the article, its fairly new. I'm off to watch it now; it looks to be quite well produced.

Sermon excerpts, 5 Epiphany

Admittedly, I went a little long this week… told a few stories (that are fun, but they’re not in the written out parts of the sermon, and some of them aren’t even in my notes.  Apologies to the reader.  If you want the good parts, you had to be there.)   Below are a few thoughts on Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, chapters one and two:

Cultures that seek after eloquence and academic credentials seem to fall into the notion that the way to make disciples for Jesus is to get your book published, you name in lights, to be on TV, and have everyone recognize you as the Gospel-superstar of your generation. But Paul’s whole point here is that seeking those things actually robs the brutal cross of its beauty. Paul didn’t get his name in lights, he was just a work-a-day tent maker who claimed to know nothing other than the cross of Christ. He was willing to live among the people of Corinth, get himself in a little trouble with the law now and then, risk being beaten or even killed. He was willing to be ordinary to preach an extraordinary Gospel. If you’re waiting for fame and glory before being an evangelist, then you’re wasting your time.

If it’s not about us, then it’s about Jesus. And if we don’t get the liberty of waiting around to be famous then what are we waiting for? Paul says to the Corinthians, what he could easily say to us: “consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”

If you’re not particularly rich or powerful or smart or good looking… all the better for you! God chose you, who were foolish in the eyes of the world, to shame the wise. Those who think they know better, the academy, the eloquent, are put to shame by printers, dropouts, mechanics. Famous or not, the idea that Troy Polamalu, a football player from Pittsburgh [readers, do I get points for including the local Steelers on Superbowl Sunday?], has a better understanding of Jesus Christ than most professors in the academy would surely put the PhD’s to shame. God chose you. And there are indeed some among you that do put the Ph.D’s to shame.

So what do we do about that? If the Church is to be what we say we are, then we need folks who are out there in the community who care that others hear the Gospel of Jesus and experience his healing. We need people who stop saying we need more people here and start saying we need more people to know Jesus. We need to be willing to be weak and willing set aside our own needs, so that the Cross of Christ can show forth its strength.

Crud. [For some reason, I didn’t actually say “crud” in the pulpit.  but it is in my notes.  Actually I had a less pulpit-worthy word in mind, but crud won.] That’s starting to sound hard. But what’s the alternative? Jesus mentions something about salt that loses its saltiness. In other words, the very essence of what it is has gone, and it is no longer good for anything but to be tossed by the wayside and trampled underfoot. If you are the salt of the earth, the cross is your saltiness. It is your essence, and if you seek after anything else, then as a church you’re tasteless salt. If you are the church, the roof over your head doesn’t matter. And if you’re not going to be the church, whatever you house between these stone walls is worthless. Those are the alternatives.

This feels like a free fall. I know it. Everything we know is at risk. Every method of church growth we want to hold onto just flew out the window. Don’t come here because you like the preaching, the liturgy, the music, smells and bells or the fellowship. Those things are great, but they’re not why you’re here and they’re not why others should come. Don’t invite friends because we need more people; a church that exists for others never needs more people. Instead invite them because God desires more people to come to him. Invite them to Jesus, not to church. And whether church is here or somewhere else, make sure its always the kind of church that is where Jesus is. All the things we think are great are suddenly not what we thought they were. But at the same time, suddenly the burden isn’t just on the preacher to preach an eloquent message, the organist to play the finest tunes, the altar guild to polish and shine. We still do those things to the glory of God, but its not our performance that holds up the church! It’s not about the building and the stuff, its not about the priest and leadership; suddenly the burden is on every one of us that wants to be something more worthwhile than unsalted salt, to be vulnerable, to be present in our communities, and to preach the Cross of Christ crucified and raised. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at that. Its radical, it imposes on my pleasant little humdrum world. However, it is comforting to know that if we do choose to be the salt of the earth, the very hardest work has been done for us, for by his death he has indeed destroyed death, and by his rising to life he has won for us life eternal and “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A break from the bad news...

My youngest child is that special blend of both stubborn and shy. Almost stereotypically Korean, the little stinker refuses to risk losing face by admitting strong emotion. He hates to applogize. He's fiercly proud of his Korean heritage and has asked repeatedly to go visit Korea, but he's also particularly shy about trying out his Korean words. And the greatest compliment he's given both our rector and his tae kwon do instructor has been to announce in his gravelly pooh-bear voice that "I'm not shy at him anymore." Before he had turned five, he had firmly anounced that, "I don't like it when girls look at me." And likewise he refuses to say "I love you." I don't think I've ever heard him say those words, except once or twice in a lighter moment to a grandmother. Grandmothers, it seems, are safer.

If asked, he will occasionally admit, with a stubborn expression and silent head nod, an affirmative response when asked "do you love your brothers, do you love your mommy, do you love your dad." But never with words.

He's as affectionate as the day is long. He's gentle and well adjusted and firmly attached to his parents, especially to me. He responds, according to his own personality, within the same norms as his brothers do, who are not adopted. But he doesn't say the words.

Lately however, as he is just beginning to learn to write letters, he has begun to experiment with writing as a a new way of expressing his affections. He started out drawing pictures of our family, all in a house together, with five beds (oddly all stacked up) and all holding hands. If he was mad at one brother he sometimes drew him outside, or on the other side of the bed stack, or not at all. If he was especially happy with someone, he drew just him and that parent/brother in the house.

The other day, with help from his dad who showed him how to make the letters, my youngest child came in with a card that read: "MOM, I LOVE YOU." And he signed his name.

Tonight, all on his own, he wrote me a note. It says: "BEQL EQO FEL"... When he handed it to me he said "I was trying to write 'I love you.'"

He may be adopted, but moments like that remind me of my dad and grandfather. He never met them, but when it comes to emotions he's just like the men of my dad's family. My uncle Marion, who usually sits silently strong, a lifetime of memories behind his eyes; my grandfather, who loved deeply and with great affection but unless given an invitation would presume nothing; my dad, who expressed his love equally with the words "I love you" as with the words "you're retarded kid." (You had to grow up with his humor to understand the affection and amusement behind those words) and dealt with real grief by silently staring out the window.

I understand that culture. There's a stubborn shyness about it, but also a solidity to that sort of love. I never doubted my dad's love. I was sure I was my grandfather's secret favorite. I have my own sense of reserve, the closer things are the less I may say about them.

Adoptive parents often get nervous if their kids don't seem to "attach" the way they expect them to. If they don't give hugs and kisses, parents may come to feel rejected. If after four and a half years of parenting they never hear the words "I love you" they may begin to freak out a little. And sometimes there is something amiss. Attachment disorders do happen. But sometimes things go beyond words, especially for reserved, stubborn, grandfatherly men in little boys' bodies.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reposted from the bowels of the internet... for the morbidly curious

Executive Summary of the Agreement between The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and

St. Philip's Church, Moon Township


February 2, 2011

St. Philip's intends to operate as an independent Christian congregation holding services in the Anglican tradition. The Agreement permits St. Philip's to continue to operate independently in its current facilities.

The Agreement acknowledges the existence of the provisions of Canon I.7.4 of The Episcopal Church, also known as the "Dennis Canon" and adopted in 1979, which provides that all real and personal property held by or for the benefit of a parish church is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese thereof in which the parish is located.

Because St. Philip's will be operating as an independent Christian congregation, the parish has agreed that it will no longer be affiliated with the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh or any similar group outside The Episcopal Church for a minimum period of five years.

The financial terms of the Agreement require St. Philip's to pay off its existing mortgage; repay the Diocese the amount of a 2007 distribution from a Diocesan endowment fund; and, pay the Diocese an additional cash amount. The Diocese agrees to finance this sum, with interest, over a term of up to 15 years, and to do so in a manner that will not be an unreasonable burden to St. Philip's . The Diocese will continue to hold the deed for the property until these payments have all been made . [Holy mortgage batman! Fifteen years?!? They're planning to be paying into TEC's bankroll, having their property held hostage, for fifteen years??? better you than me, bro.]

The Agreement expressly states that the parties have entered into it for the purpose of avoiding unnecessary controversy and litigation, and that they commit themselves to that mutual purpose in their implementation of the Agreement. They pledge to work cooperatively to resolve any dispute that might arise under the Agreement before resorting to legal remedies. Additionally, St. Philip's agrees not to support any litigation brought by another against the Diocese involving property.. [I note, however, that no such promises are made to St. Philips if TEC should, ho hum, decide to sue anyway.]

The Agreement provides for the maintenance of, and ongoing access to, parish records and files. Provisions also cover memorials, dedications and similar parish assets.

Because of the nature of the Agreement, Court approval is required. Under an October 14, 2005 Stipulation and Order of Court in the case Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. The Rt. Rev. Robert William Duncan, et al., No. GD-03-020941 (C.P. Allegheny County) (the "Calvary Suit"), any person seeking to raise an objection to the Agreement has a period of 45 days from the mailing of this public announcement to file the objection with that Court. The Agreement is also subject to the approval of the Orphans' Court division of the Court. The Diocese and St. Philip's have agreed to cooperate in seeking these court approvals.

Subject to the required Court approval, the Agreement will resolve all potential legal disputes between the Diocese and St. Philip's and allow both to go forward with their respective principal missions, including new forms of ministry, outreach and service, in the name of our one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

[Obviously, bolded italics and snarky comments in brackets are mine, not in the original document.]

It Ain't Over

A while back, The Episcopal Church put out a memo to anyone concerned telling them that they could not rent or sell buildings to any former Episcopal current Anglican churches out there. The silence in the blogosphere was almost deafening; was I the only one who saw that this was a blatant case of religious discrimination? People were upset; we all knew this was reprehensible, but nobody used the magic words: Unconstitutional and Religious Discrimination. Admittedly, I didn't really say anything either, so maybe everyone saw it bright and clear but kept their mouths closed. Discretion and valor and all.

But if they had refused to rent or sell to a group because they were Jewish or Muslim, Black or Asian, or anything else you want to pick, someone would cry foul. Heck, someone would sue.

At the time I remember thinking, this just goes to show how much they hate us. They aren't willing to unload an empty building, take our sale price, and call it a day. They actively want us to be homeless. They would rather their churches became mosques (I believe one) and bars, than for them to become homes for Anglican worship as they were intended to be.

Today, I read that a church in my diocese has been offered such a "settlement." TEC tells them they can buy the building that is by all logical rights already theirs IF they disaffiliate with the Anglican Church in North America and any churches they plant have to be non-Anglican Churches. To his credit, Archbishop Duncan used the magic words: "It is our sincere hope that The Episcopal Church will stop these abusive and unconstitutional practices so that St. Philip’s can move forward with its mission and ministry."

Abusive is right. To tell a congregation of faithful people that they have to buy the church they built with their own funds and hands is abusive. To drag them into court for settlement fees, which are surely substantial, is abusive. To attempt to manipulate their affiliations after they have left your jurisdiction is abusive. And to impose your own restrictions on their free exercise of religion is absolutely abusive AND unconstitutional. They can't expect a court of law to uphold this for them, so unless the parties involved freely agree to be abused, the idea would have no teeth.

And unfortunately it could be seen as a precedent. If the church in question agrees to be thus abused and manipulated, it will appear that the rest of us consider this an acceptable option. If the courts approve such a blatantly unconstitutional settlement, it will be clear that the courts consider this an acceptable option. And frankly this is far from acceptable. So let me just say now, on behalf of me and my house (which means zilch since my house isn't up for grabs and my jurisdiction doesn't extend beyond my back yard... but someone has to put the words out there):

Dear TEC: We are not willing to roll over and be abused. We follow a Lord who was crucified and buried, but not before his time. You can come after us all you want, but we refuse to simply hand over what is not yours, which we hold in stewardship for our Lord and his faithful people. If you think you have a case against us, we ask that you obey the laws of this land and not impose on our affiliations, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and liberty of private property ownership on behalf of congregating church bodies. We ask that you keep your blatant loathing of our governing bodies from clouding your eyes to basic fairness and decency. It is clear that you are becoming consumed in your hatred; we vow to love you as Christ commands but admit we are having trouble living out that calling if you insist on treating us with abuse, contempt, and inappropriate attempts to claim what is not yours. We will not negotiate with modern litigious terrorism. We are willing to risk all for what is simply right. Our Lord did no less and much more. If necessary, we will just have to wish you luck heating empty buildings. It gets cold here in the winter and most of them leak heat like a seive.
This needs to be over; we walked away two years ago. Since then, local Episcopalians and Anglicans have been working to to repair our friendships and joint ministries. We're doing pretty well with that. Your lawsuits just open old wounds, which seems to give you pleasure. None of my friends, on either side, is interested in the suffering you insist upon. Just leave us in peace and we'll do the same for you.