31 January 2008

I should be suspicious of what I want, poem by Rumi

Who Makes These Changes

Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.

~Jelaluddin Rumi


29 January 2008

Blogs I read daily - Anglican Communion - The Episcopal Church

Anglican/Episcopal blogs I read every day:

I received an email today from a friend who asked what blogs I recommend related to the Anglican Church and The Episcopal Church...well, here are some of the blogs that I read daily. I've probably forgotten some that I actually do read daily (or nearly daily), and I probably am leaving out some important ones. Please let me know what your favorites are...!

The Episcopal Cafe
The Diocese of Washington sponsors this blog that does a pretty good job of covering the actions and intrigues of the Anglican and the Episcopal Church. There are a variety of editors, and some very good writers, as well as some folks who stay amazingly aware of the actions of our church.


Preludium is written by Mark Harris, who is a priest in the Diocese of Delaware and a member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. He is an incredible reader and observer of the goings-on in our church, and I have learned a great deal from his observations. I read everything he writes.

A Guy in the Pew
Chuck Blanchard at A Guy in the Pew is one of the editors for The Episcopal Cafe, but he also has his own blog in which he comments quite often on the goings-on of The Episcopal Church. He is extremely thoughtful, and is amazing in his ability to digest other articles and offer his thoughts on them. For just "a guy in the pew" he is amazingly wise about all that is going on in our church!

Father Jake Stops the World
Father Jake is the pseudonym of an Episcopal priest who serves on the East Coast of the United States. He is decidedly "liberal" in his outlook, and can be polemical about those on the "right" on many issues in the church. Lately, I have been reading him daily. He is often (somehow) the first person to "break" stories on the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. He can be polemical and biting in his observations and I love him for it - even if I don't agree with him hook, line, and sinker.

"Covenant" is another very thoughtful blog, that is written (I believe) by a small group of writers, and I find their level of theological knowledge and understanding to be very valuable in understanding our present situation. The perspective is hard to pidgeon-hole, but they seem to occupy somewhere in the moderate-to-conservative area. I find the comments and the coverage on "Covenant" to be just excellent.

In a Godward direction
In a Godward direction is written by Tobias Haller, who is an extremely intelligent and keen observer of the actions and stances taken by the Anglican Communion and by people in (and trying to leave) The Episcopal Church. He writes extremely well, and tackles some difficult subjects. I find his thoughts helpful to my understanding, and his awareness of the "news" as well as the "Good News" is impressive.

The Anglican Centrist
The difficulty of occuping the "center" in any discussion or debate is extremely hard, but Father Jones at the Anglican Centrist does an amazing job of walking that "via media." I was alerted to his work by a friend of mine (DK), and I find Fr. Jones to be very helpful to me as I work to challenge my own assumptions. His blog is well-written and helpful and important for an understanding of the goings on of our kooky (and wonderful) church, and his knowledge of theology is excellent.

Inch at a Time
This blog is written by the president of Integrity, Susan Russell. She is a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles and is a good and pithy writer, and interesting commenter on all things Episcopal. I don't agree with all her perspectives (I am leaning toward Obama over Clinton, for instance), but I appreciate her writing and observations.

Titus One Nine
Titus One Nine is not a blog that I always agree with, and more often or not my blood pressure rises after reading Kendall Harmon's observations. However, he is a very good writer and is courageous in his willingness to (from his own perspective) "call a spade a spade." Of late, I have appreciated his writing and am glad that he is out there writing. He certainly gets me thinking!

The Episcopal Majority
The Episcopal Majority writes from a decidedly moderate to liberal (or just liberal) perspective on The Episcopal Church. There are a variety of commenters, and there have been some real gems in the last few months. They don't post every day, or even every week, but when they do post, it usually is pretty good.

Episcopalooza is mostly a "news blog" as the writer(s) tend to post a lot of articles and videos and pictures and such related to The Episcopal Church. I check out what they post each day, and it is often a good read.

Stand Firm
Stand Firm tends to drive me wacko with much of what is written and commented upon, but in the spirit of fair treatment, I strive to read what is posted each day and try to take it in with an open mind. Behind some of the vitriol there is a lot of hurt on the part of many people in our church and I keep us all in my prayers. I recognize that there are extremely faithful people writing at Stand Firm and though I disagree with them about issues more than I agree, I do consider them brothers and sisters in Christ.

Irenic Thoughts
Frank Logue is the rector of King of Peace Episcopal Church and posts on a wide variety of topics - not solely the "large" Episcopal Church stuff. He is clearly dedicated to his people, and to his particular calling as a parish priest. I enjoy reading and viewing all the wonderful things that go on at his church, and I enjoy reading his theological and biblical reflections as well. In addition, he was a member of the VTS (Virginia Theological Seminary) "Fightin' Friars" flag football team back when he was at seminary (I, too was a member of the team, but several years after Frank was.)

Andrew Plus
Andrew Plus is written by an Episcopal Priest who is another good commenter on the goings-on of our church. In addition, he has a great list of Anglican Blog links on his site as well, which is well-worth checking out.

Ember Days
I think I first found Ember Days when I was trying to figure out when I needed to write my "Ember Day Letter" to my bishop (people in the ordination process are asked to write their bishops four times a year, on the traditional "ember days'). The writer of Ember Days blog is a professor of ethics and theology and is also a postulant for holy orders in the church. He is bright, articulate, and connects his deep understanding of theology with the everyday events in our church.

Episcope is the quasi-official blog of the national Episcopal Church. They mostly post news releases from The Episcopal Church, and coverage of Episcopal churches from around the country. What I really like about this blog is that they have a list of blog links that are categorized as "eyes left" (liberal), "eyes center" (moderate), and "eyes right" (conservative). Good stuff linked here!

Ruth Gledhill at the London Times
Ruth Gledhill is the religion reporter at the London Times, and she does a really good job of covering the Anglican Communion, and also a pretty good job of covering The Episcopal Church.

Cartoon Church
Cartoon Church is a really funny and good blog written by Dave Walker who offers, funny, wise and challenging cartoons about church. He has some great ones that are really well-worth checking out - and for Dave, a picture is often worth several thousand words!


Now, to prove that I am fallible and human, I clearly left out a few of the blogs that I do read often...as a quite "new priest" perhaps I was afraid, somewhere subconsciously, to include the following blog because I feel myself going mad at times in the midst of this vocation.

Of course, I could be wrong
A priest with more courage, and far more self-knowledge about his own 'madness' than myself calls himself the "MadPriest" and he offers a terrific blog, that he so wonderfully named "Of Course I Could Be Wrong," (talk about epistemic humility!) which is a wonderful way to offer his quite challenging and polemical and funny and strange, and, well...quite mad observations on all things Anglican.

In addition, a commenter let me know about the Kew Continuum, which I have added to my "read list" ... also, the same commenter said that there are far too many clergy-types on this list, and I agree - - I can't believe I am already falling into the trap (having been a priest for just over a month!) of not listening to the laity enough. I am on the lookout for "the best Anglican blogs written by the laity"...more later on that!

28 January 2008

What would it take?

I have been wondering what it would take for people today to take to the streets to protest the current state of affairs in our country. At lunch today I had an interesting conversation with a colleague who had been in school in the '60s and described the protests that occurred related to the Vietnam War and the struggle for Civil Rights. Today, we have what amounts to a perpetual war in Iraq - and we may be soon at war with Iran. I wonder what it would take for people to finally say that they are fed up? I think that we have, perhaps, done better to work to support our troops - - I hope we are doing better at this task, but we seem to be lacking in leaders who have a level of nuance when it comes to discussing our foreign policy and who might be able to help us to both support our troops, and also seek solutions that won't take decades of occupation in the Middle East.

What would it take for people to take a stand on this issue, and so many others? I am also complicit in this non-action. Feeling relatively comfortable in my present state of economy, I feel the inertia of the status quo keeping me from standing firm with those who are working for justice. I feel the inertia of the status quo that whispers to me that I shouldn't rock the boat, lest I may fall in water. However, perhaps falling in is what is needed. I remember being at Bates College when the first Iraq War broke out in the Winter of 1991, and we took to the streets! And, from this vantage point, that military action looks like it may have fallen within the requirements of a Just War (perhaps). But today, we hear of Waterboarding, of some very strange and scary practices with detainees at Gitmo, the ongoing work of the School of the Americas (School of the Assassins?) to train mercenaries and "security" forces for corrupt regimes. We hear of this, we hear of the actions that our government is taking, yet there is not much criticism of these actions. Why not? What is keeping us glued to our sofas? What is keeping us from turning off American Idol?

I am not sure, but whether you are in full support of our current administration's policies or not, I would love to have a debate about it. I would love to hear some experts and ordinary people go head to head on these issues. I would love to see some Anti-War (and even "pro-war") marches!

What would it take to get people off their fat behinds to step up and stand for something?

"You've got to stand right up for something, or you're goin' to fall for everything" John Cougar Mellencamp

27 January 2008

Into your hands I commend my spirit - 2006 Good Friday Reflection

Into your hands I commend my spirit

Good Friday Reflection – Peter Carey – 14 April 2006

Gesturing to the fishermen, He called them
To set down their nets and become fishers of people.
His hands gave healing to the sick and the unclean
The spirit of healing flowed from his hands
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them
He laid his hands on one, and immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
Water became wine and a few loaves and fishes became a feast.

He predicted he would end up betrayed into human hands
But he continued to heal and to teach parables of the kingdom
The powers wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.

Though they tried, they did not lay hands upon him when he was a babe
They did not lay hands upon him in the temple
They did not lay hands upon him on the plain
They did not lay hands upon him when he healed
They did not lay hands upon him when he cleaned the temple
And he saw that they did not lay hands upon him
Day after day in the temple, they did not lay hands on him.
But this is their hour, and the power of darkness
Brought their hands upon him.

The journey he has made into the world from God
is nearly done,
but his work and his life will endure in a new way.

His work of healing,
of teaching,
of preaching,
of walking the way of God in the world.
Welcoming the outcast,
visiting the lonely,
the sick
those in prison,
healing those in turmoil,
liberating the oppressed.
He walked with them,
healed them
and offered hope.
But his work and his life will endure in a new way.

His life is gift,
God’s gift to God’s creation.
Ours, too are pure gift,
We are brought into the world
and are held in loving hands as infants,
hands of our parents,
hands of our guardians,
hands of the ones who baptize us,
the hands of our siblings,
and the hands of our teachers, priests and the hands of our friends.

We lay our hands upon others in healing,
we hold the hurt of others as we offer our open hands up in prayer,
we hold up our hands to receive the Eucharistic Feast.
We offer up our hands as we commend our lives to God’s service.
From your hands we have received our lives,
Into your hands we commend our lives and our spirit.

Their hands held him,
Their hands nailed his hands to the cross.
In the moment that worldly hands bound him
He offered no curse
No condemnation
But the gift of radical forgiveness
He saw the hands that would bring him home,
The hands that had supported him all along,
The hands that had held him up in the temple,
The hands that supported him in the wilderness,
The hands that had offered direction and comfort.

In that moment that the hands of the world bound him,
He commended his spirit to the hands that endure,
When he might have cried out in anger or fear
Jesus offered a prayer from the Psalms,
“Into your hands I commend my spirit”

No longer bound by the hands of his captors,
No longer bound by his hand to the cross,
Jesus makes his own funeral commendation.
This cry is no cry of loneliness
of dereliction,
but is a prayer and a deep hope.
He seeks out the hands of his father, from whose hands he became incarnate
The hands that hold the entire world, and caress us as newborn children.

In that moment of cosmic loneliness,
He felt God’s hands reaching to him,
He saw the hands of his Father,
his Abba,
caressing him
offering love,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
In the moment when the hands of the world betrayed him
a prayer.
Calling out into the darkness
But, in hope and love,
God would hear him and hold him
Not a distant deity without care or concern
But a compassionate and loving God
He trusted the loving hands of his Father
He trusted those hands that had held him from the beginning
And were there all along
Holding him, supporting him, and guiding him.

His life is gift,
God’s gift to God’s creation.
Darkness came over the whole land,
The sun’s light failed,
The curtain of the temple was torn in two,
Crying with a loud voice,

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”


26 January 2008

Jim Wallis on the Daily Show with John Stewart

I am a big fan of Jim Wallis, who is the leader of Sojourners, but also has become a spokesperson for people who identify at Evangelical, and who also care deeply about peace and justice issues. He has found a degree of fame in all of this work that he is using to highlight poverty as an issue on the national level. He was on the Daily Show with John Stewart on Comedy Central recently, and the interview is quite excellent, and I recommend it highly!


Click HERE
to watch the video (for some reason I couldn't embed it in this post.)

Bishop Peter James Lee's address at Annual Council

Bishop Peter Lee gave what I thought was an excellent and inspiring Pastoral Address at this year's Annual Diocesan Council meeting on Friday. Some excerpts are below. I am proud to be serving in this diocese in this Episcopal Church and believe that the work of Christ is being done here with great passion, care, and dedication. Amidst what some would call a "time of turmoil" in our church, there are wonderful things happening, and I am glad to be serving in this place, at this time.

I've included the conclusion of Bishop Lee's address, but you can read it all HERE.



Last Sunday, at an evensong at St. James’s Church, Richmond, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., the celebrated Norfolk State University Concert Choir sang that beautiful old spiritual “There is a balm in Gilead.” It speaks of what I have experienced in this last year.

“Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
If you cannot sing like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus, and say, ‘He died for all.’

It is the abundance of God’s love for all that we proclaim. You and I may not have the gifts either of the angels or of Paul, but all of us can tell the abundant love of Jesus and demonstrate by our lives and our words that he died for all.

As I move around the diocese, I rejoice in the signs of that abundant love. Congregations are nourishing their young, caring for the disabled, celebrating the sacraments, and in all things, preaching the Gospel, all out of a love for the Lord Jesus Christ and devotion to his coming kingdom. It is an encouraging time to be serving the church in Virginia, especially when we focus on the positive rather than on the shadows that may accompany us. My prayer for the diocese in this coming year is that we can navigate our differences with grace, support those Episcopalians who have been abandoned by the majorities in their congregations, increase our support for the ministries we share, and emphasize the mission of God’s abundance that unites us more than any effort of darkness that seeks to overcome us. May God continue to bless and prosper the Diocese of Virginia.

"This Republic of Suffering" book by Harvard's President

Harvard's president, Drew Gilpin Faust, has written a book that looks at how American's dealt with death in the Civil War and its aftermath. I heard a great interview with the author on NPR, and am really looking forward to reading the book...the book is reviewed in the Sunday New York Times this week.

You can listen to the interview on National Public Radio, (NPR) HERE.

THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING: Death and the American Civil War.

By Drew Gilpin Faust Illustrated. 346 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $27.95.


Death's Army

Published: January 27, 2008

During the Civil War, my great-great-grandfather, a Presbyterian clergyman, served as chaplain to the 104th New York Infantry Regiment. He was a man of stern moral conviction and in weekly letters to his parishioners back home allowed little to escape his censorious eye. President Lincoln’s erratic church attendance irritated him. So did mud and heat and the “intemperance” and “profanity” that he believed were the “great sins of our army,” and he was infuriated by the proximity of his quarters to the “tents of several of the most blasphemous, immoral persons I ever heard.” But in the aftermath of Gettysburg, words failed him. “Sad scenes!” was all he could write after two days spent officiating at the trench burials of Union and Confederate boys. “I have no time, strength nor heart to recall and narrate what I have seen!”

Death and the American Civil War.
By Drew Gilpin Faust.
Illustrated. 346 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $27.95.

Little wonder. Some 7,000 corpses lay scattered across the Pennsylvania countryside, alongside more than 3,000 dead horses and mules — an estimated six million pounds of human and animal flesh, swollen and blackening in the July heat. For weeks afterward, townspeople carried bottles of peppermint oil to neutralize the smell.

Americans had never endured anything like the losses they suffered between 1861 and 1865 and have experienced nothing like them since. Two percent of the United States population died in uniform — 620,000 men, North and South, roughly the same number as those lost in all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Korea combined. The equivalent toll today would be six million.

Read the rest HERE.

Jesus and Martin Article

In my blog surfing, I ran across this excellent and challenging article about Jesus and Martin on the "Inward/Outward Blog"

Read it all HERE.


By Ched Myers

Rev. James W. Lawson, a retired Methodist minister in his 80s now, has been a major figure in faith-based activism in the U.S. One of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s closest colleagues in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Lawson continues to work tirelessly in the tradition of nonviolent activism for social justice. Speaking at a King commemoration recently in Los Angeles, he said something that caught my theological attention.

“If you want to understand King,” Lawson asserted, “you must look at Jesus.” He was acknowledging that King was a committed Christian disciple who understood the call of the gospel as a vocation of advocacy for the oppressed, of love for adversaries and of nonviolent resistance to injustice. King can’t be understood apart from his faith: he organized his movement in church basements, prayed as he picketed, sang gospel hymns in jail, preached to presidents, and challenged other church leaders to join him (most poignantly in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”). But Lawson was saying more than this. He was alluding to the undeniable, if uncomfortable, parallels between the Jesus story and the ministry of Dr. King.

Like King, Jesus was a member of an ethnic community that suffered great discrimination at the hands of a world power. Both of them:

* spent time listening to the pain of the dispossessed and broken among their own people, and advocating on their behalf;
* worked to build popular movements of identity, renewal and
* resistance to injustice;
* proclaimed the vision of God’s “Beloved Community” in ways
* that got them into trouble with both local and national authorities;
* were widely perceived as operating in the biblical prophetic
* tradition by both allies and adversaries;
* animated dramatic public protests resulting in arrest and jail;
* were deemed such a threat to national security that their inner
* circles were infiltrated by government informers; and
* in the end, were killed through an official conspiracy because of their work and witness.

These parallels have been oddly absent from longstanding, abstract theological debates as to whether or not Jesus was a “pacifist,” or whether he was politically engaged, and are thus worth exploring. King not only looked to Jesus; if we want to understand this greatest of figures in the history of social change in the U.S., we must look at Jesus.

It strikes me that the converse also applies, however: If we want to understand Jesus, we would do well to look at King. Read it all HERE.

25 January 2008

"Santos Woodcarving Popsicles," ..Photos from Chimayo, New Mexico

The name of this blog comes from a shop in Chimayo, New Mexico where I visited 6 years ago when my in-laws were living in Santa Fe. Chimayo is a wonderful town, and also is a pilgrimage site for people who travel there, seeking the miraculous healing soil that is located in a chapel in the back of the church in Chimayo.

Here are some photos of this wonderful little town:


23 January 2008

from my Seminary OT Professor: Continued Prayers Requested for Kenya

My Seminary Old Testament professor, Dr. Stephen L. Cook has reminded me of the importance of praying and working to help end the violence in Kenya. I was very close with at least one of the students he mentioned and I keep them, and their families, and all of Kenya in my prayers.



Biblische Ausbildung: Continued Prayers Requested for Kenya

As readers of this blog may know, we have several international students from East Africa, and particularly from Kenya, studying here at VTS. I have several of them in my own classes---these students have a much greater appreciation for the Hebrew Scriptures than many (not all!) US seminarians. This request for continued prayers just in from our Dean of Community Life:

As you may know, the current government in Kenya has given “the shoot to kill” order if demonstrators gather. As a result demonstrators as well as innocent bystanders have been shot, beaten and killed. The unrest persists and often explodes into violence in a very short span of time. Please continue to pray for the people of Kenya and especially for Mary Tororeiy, Daniel Mwiti Munene and Peter Kanyi who all have loved ones in Kenya.

Biblische Ausbildung: Continued Prayers Requested for Kenya

"Me and MLK, Jr." from Theolog Blog

I just loved this short article by Jonathan Marlowe about "Me and MLK, Jr." that was posted in the Christian Century's "Theolog" blog. I loved it so much, that I have adapted it, (with attribution) for my chapel talk today. His wonderful piece is below:

Martin Luther King Jr. and me

By Jonathan Marlowe

Martin Luther King was 39 years old when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. This January, I am turning 39 years old. What have I done with my life, compared with what Martin Luther King did with his?

Well, not much. But that’s OK.

Rowan Williams once said that when he gets to heaven, God will not ask him why he was not Martin Luther King; God will ask him why he was not Rowan Williams. I figure when I show up at the pearly gates, there’s a good chance that God will ask me, “Why weren’t you Jonathan Marlowe?”

God will ask: why didn’t you do the things I called you to do? Why didn’t you do the things that I uniquely equipped you to do?

I may not lead a civil rights movement, but I can help one person find a job. I may not win a Nobel Peace Prize, but I can live peacefully with my neighbor. I won’t give a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but I can do my best with next week’s lectionary. We sometimes focus on the great movers and shakers of history and forget that God usually works through ordinary people like you and me.

I know that faith isn’t private—God works through communities and churches and even nations. But Martin Luther King Jr. did not set out to be a great American hero. He set out to be faithful to God one day at a time, and found himself the leader of a nation-wide movement for freedom and equality. We too should begin with the little things—being faithful to our spouses, patient with a friend, gracious with an enemy, merciful with those who need our help, and generous in giving.

I doubt I’ll ever spend the night in a Birmingham jail, but I can visit someone in a Salisbury jail. I will never organize a bus boycott, but I can make a friend of one of the school bus drivers here in Rowan County. I won’t integrate a school system, but I can be a big brother to a child who needs a kind person to eat lunch with at the school. I need the church to help me be faithful in these ways, so that God won’t have to ask me, “Why weren’t you Jonathan Marlowe?”

Jonathan Marlowe is pastor of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Granite Quarry, North Carolina.

22 January 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury launches Lambeth Conference 2008 programme

Question and Answer Session 1

Question and Answer Session 2

History of World-wide Religion in 90 Seconds

Hat tip goes to Chuck at "A Guy in thew Pew" for this cool map. One of his commenters mentioned that this map leaves out Lao Tzu and Taoism, also Indigenous religions and others. Though incomplete, this is a pretty great map. Check it out below:

21 January 2008

Train Up a Child? by the Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell

On the "Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation" blog is this fine piece about Martin Luther King and our responsibility for continuing the work that he did:


"Train up a Child?" - by the Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell

Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell is the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Honeoye Falls, NY, MDG coordinator for Diocese of Rochester.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, RSV)

This past week, my 7 year old daughter Hannah came home from school and proudly showed me her “Peace Prize.” She had a paper medal around her neck that was a copy of the medal given to the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. That day at school, she had learned all about Martin Luther King, Jr. She learned that he won the Nobel Prize. She learned that he had a dream. She learned that he had been assassinated on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. She didn’t understand why someone would want to kill a person who just wanted people to be treated fairly.

Then she told me that her teacher taught her a hard lesson. While the children in the class were watching a dvd, the teacher put stars on the back of some of the medals and not others. After the movie was over, the teacher told them to look at their medals. Everyone who had a star got to come to the front of the class and get candy. The children who didn’t have stars didn’t get candy. There was no reason why some kids got stars and some didn’t. The kids who didn’t get stars were very upset. The teacher explained that this is how discrimination works. And the way that the children without stars felt was the way that Dr. King had felt lots of the time and it’s what he was fighting. Hannah asked the teacher how the kids who got the stars were supposed to learn the lesson which the teacher said was a “Very Good Question.”

I am incredibly privileged, as are my kids. How do I teach them about poverty, disease, thirst, genocide, discrimination? They hear me talk about the MDG’s but in reality, my kids were born with stars on the back of their medals. I want them to enjoy the blessings of this life but I want them to be aware of the kids without the stars. And I want them to share the candy.

Today my kids have the day off from school in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you’re taking the time to read this, take some more time and read some of Dr. King’s amazing writings, especially his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” And tell a child about what you read.

Editor's Note: An excellent resource for spending time with Dr. King's writings and speeches today is the website of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. There are audio excerpts from many of his speeches as well as complete texts of his writings.

20 January 2008

San Joaquin's Standing Committee Says NO to the Cone!

From The Episcopal Cafe:


Dan Martins is reporting on his blog, Confessions of a Carioca, that six of the eight members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin have refused to become members of the Province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Schofield has renounced his membership in The Episcopal Church and joined the Province in South America.

The message from Bishop Schofield:

On December 8th at our Diocesan Convention the overwhelming vote to transfer from the Episcopal Church to the Province of the Southern Cone was passed. At that time I became a member of the House of Bishops of that Province. Therefore, the Standing Committee, which is my council of advice, must be composed of clergy members who are Anglican priests of the Southern Cone. This is required by Diocesan Canons and the Archbishop of the Southern Cone of South America, who writes:

Then we have this , from the duly-elected president of the Standing Committee:
During the Standing Committee meeting of January 19th, the Bishop determined that the elected members of the Standing Committee who had not publicly affirmed their standing in the Southern Cone [whose congregations are in discernment, some over the legality of convention's actions] were unqualified to hold any position of leadership in the Diocese, including any elected office. He pronounced us as unqualified. No resignations were given. The question of resignations was raised and rejected. The members of the committee at this morning's meeting were quite clear on this point, we did not resign, we were declared unqualified to hold office. The Bishop's decision affects up to 6 of the 8 elected members of the Committee including all of the clergy members.

19 January 2008

The Serenity Prayer - in full

It seems that as I grow older (and only perhaps wiser) I feel the need to draw again and again from the Serenity Prayer - often quoted by recovering addicts, and also quite a helpful prayer for those of us who are in "helping professions," and who are engaged in ministries that demand much of us. What I had not read for quite awhile was the entire Serenity Prayer, as written by Reinhold Neibuhr, but I ran across it today at the "Inward/Outward" blog...just excellent!

By Reinhold Niebuhr

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Source: Theologian, 1892-1971

Some Martin Luther King, Jr Reflections and Resources

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
- Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dec. 10, 1964

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.

- Martin Luther King, Jr, Strength to Love


From InterfaithRadio.org

Heschel and King: Soul Mates of the Civil Rights Movement

  • play show:
Date: 17 January 2008

Remembering an Interfaith Friendship

As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day, we at Interfaith Voices explore a part of King’s life often overlooked: his deep bond with Jewish spiritual leader Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Rabbi Heschel’s daugher, Susannah, joins us to reflect on

their legacy.

Dr. Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College

18 January 2008

For the Bible Tells Me So - coming to...RICHMOND!

paradoxes a'plenty

"what we keep we lose only what we give remains our own"

is our school's motto...lots to consider here...hmmmm....?

Comedian is living in an Ikea store

I love IKEA so this article on CNN Caught my eye. I guess this is actually true. I've often thought it would be cool to live in one of those "furnished" bedroom setIt also reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in which two kids camp out in the Museum of Natural History.

Check out the article HERE.


PARAMUS, New Jersey (AP) -- When Mark Malkoff thought about where he could stay while his New York City apartment was being fumigated for cockroaches, he quickly ruled out friends' places (too small) and hotels (too expensive).


Mark Malkoff sits on a display bed in a showroom at the Ikea store in Paramus, New Jersey.

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Instead, the comedian and filmmaker decided to move into an Ikea store in suburban New Jersey, where on Monday he unloaded two suitcases into a spacious bedroom at the store.

At night when the store is closed, he says he'll play laser tag with security guards and even plans to host a housewarming party.

"The fact that Ikea is letting me do this is mind-boggling," said Malkoff, lounging on a bed in his new room. "There's no way I'm going back. I love this way too much."

Check out the rest of the article HERE.

17 January 2008

Bishops Behaving Badly ... getting boring!

When I began this blog I thought I would spend a good deal of time commenting on the goings-on of the Anglican Communion, and especially the several controversies that are present in this body currently. I must admit that I do still read a dozen or more blogs that cover and comment upon (and create?) these disagreements, I have found that there is so much more going on nearby and far away, that I can't seem to muster a lot of energy for all of it. That said, I do know that people are struggling and are feeling hurt in many areas, and I do pray for them - and try to help when I can. I found this piece over at "the anglican centrist" to be especially appropriate, pithy, and descriptive of the situation, and I pretty much agree with Father Jones' impressions of the current state of affairs. I've posted a bit of it, and the rest you can find HERE.

from the anglican centrist

In all truth - I am so bored with this story that I have ceased to follow it too closely or think about it very much.

The bottom line is this: the leadership of the Episcopal Church has responded to the broad-daylight plotting of bishops Duncan, Scofield and Iker to form an alternative Anglican ecclesiastical entity in the United States, with offshore primatial 'oversight,' so that they may transfer the current property of the Episcopal Church in those dioceses, which like any one of these United States - to make a secular analogy -- are not free to secede from the Union. Not surprisingly, these men have cried, "Persecution!"

Read the rest HERE.

16 January 2008

Conversation in Christian Community

A friend and mentor of mine, Kathleen Henderson Staudt, has written a fine entry on the Episcopal Cafe blog about conversation in a Christian Community, based on Guidelines that Bishop Mark Dyer laid out at VTS back in December. The guidelines are helpful and offer some good reminders for those of us who work to live in community and conversation, though not always in agreement.


By Kathleen Henderson Staudt

Shortly before Christmas I attended a forum at Virginia Theological Seminary led by Bishop Mark Dyer. His purpose was to lay out some groundwork for truly faithful and Christ-centered conversations in a community where we do not all agree on matters of theology and Biblical interpretation. Bishop Mark speaks with deep spiritual and theological authority, as an author of the Windsor report, a veteran of ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox churches, dialogue that is bearing new fruit. He also speaks out of his experience of 15 years as a Benedictine monk, living in community with people who, as he says “may not agree with each other but have to live together.”

In his introductory remarks, Bishop Mark spoke of the problem of “issue possession” in the Church: our tendency to let one issue take hold of us and shut everything else out, as if we were possessed by a demon. Do not be driven by “issue possession,” he urged, but be “possessed by Christ.”

...Here is a distillation of the “basic assumptions for conversation in Christian community” that Bishop Mark laid out for us:

1. Assume that “My partner takes the Bible as seriously as I do.” That is part of who we are as Christians: we are grounded in Scripture. Do not mistake differences in interpretation for differences in desire to be faithful to Scripture.

2. Listen with a Christlike heart. Be guided by 1 Corinthians1, where Paul urges Christlike conversations between schismatic bodies.

3. Be radically honest on what you believe and why you believe it, and let the other do the same. Bishop Mark pointed out that in Ecumenical conversations the point is not to be “nice” but to be truthful. That is the best way to acknowledge our ultimate common ground in Christ. He quoted Orthodox theologian John Zizoulas, a longtime friend partner in ecumenical conversation, who insists that our unity is grounded in our love for one another, in the church of the Triune God.

4. While you are listening, also pray for the person who is speaking: pray for discernment. Be open to the possibility that maybe they are correct.

5. Practice forgiveness and reconciliation as a habit. Think about and discuss how we forgive and find reconciliation with one another.

6. Should the other attribute to you evil intentions, take a deep breath and pray. Who is setting the agenda? Do not let them be your environment. Reach down, find the Christ within you, and only then, speak.

7. Practice daily intercession, as part of a group that meets regularly for conversation and prayer. Covenant to pray for one another daily.

8. Be guided by the Benedictines, who know that they do not agree with each other AND that they have to live together.

Frame the issue you are discussing as clearly as you can, and let everyone say where their heart is on the question, BEFORE any discussion begins. The Benedictine practice is to begin with the youngest and go to the oldest monk. Every monk must say something, even if it is “I have no opinion.” (It seemed to me, listening to Bishop Mark describe this process, that this is similar to a process some know as “appreciative inquiry” or the practice of “clearness committees” in Quaker discernment practice). The key is that there is no dialogue until everyone has spoken.

This kind of approach to conversation feels threatening to those of us who like to “manage” conflict and keep things under control, but it also reflects what is most deeply counter-cultural about the Gospel: that our ultimate identity is baptismal, rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, and that we’re called to live this out, in a way that will witness to our call to radical reconciliation and wholeness. It is counter-cultural but it is real. I am grateful to Bishop Mark for challenging the seminary community to live in this way, and hope what he said may also be a witness and a challenge for the rest of us in the Church.

Dr. Kathleen Henderson Staudt works as a teacher, poet, spiritual director and retreat leader, and teaches courses in literature and theology at Virginia Theological Seminary and the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of two books: At the Turn of a Civilisation: David Jones and Modern Poetics and Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture. Her blog is at poetproph.blogspot.com.

Forgiveness ...

I am reflecting this week on this practice of forgiveness, and thinking deeply about this miracle. About the miracle of setting aside one's supposed "right" to retribution and revenge in order to forgive others. John the Baptist was offering the assurance of forgiveness out there at the Jordan - far away from the Temple of the Lord. And people flocked to hear the words of forgiveness. Jesus is remembered as saying, "Father Forgive Them," from the cross; and Jesus set up the paragon, the paradigm, the model of forgiveness.

On Good Friday of last year, I offered these words as I reflected upon Jesus' words from the cross ... it occurs to me that Jesus' ministry began with being baptized "for the forgiveness of sins" and the other bookend to this work is on the cross when he offered forgiveness even for those who brutally crucified him. Quite an incredible model for us.

Peter Carey
Good Friday Meditation
7 Last Words: Father Forgive Them
6 April 2007

“Father Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

It sounds like a miracle.
Forgiveness is there for us, whether we engage it or not.
Forgiveness is there, are we able to turn and inhabit it?
Jesus looks down from the cross and sees us below.
We stumble around, not knowing what we’re doing.
Jesus sees us, and despite ourselves, he forgives us.
Without any action on our part, he forgives us.
The forgiveness is there for us, are we ready to inhabit it?
Are we ready to turn away from our sin, and turn to God?
Traditionally, we might confess, be contrite, repent, and seek unity
We must remember those things which we have done
Those things we ought to have done.
We remember why we need forgiveness.

We remember the ways our society offers us privilege on the backs of others.
We remember that we keep putting others on the cross, and then divide their possessions.
We remember those systems from which we benefit.
Systems of oppression
Systems of slavery
Systems of dehumanization
Systems of the degradation of the environment
We remember those systems of sin and diminution that we regret.
And Jesus forgives us, for we know not what we are doing
Can we believe in Jesus’s forgiveness for us?
It sounds like a miracle.
How might we live as we embody this forgiveness?
What if we are really forgiven, what if we are freed from the ties that bind us?
What if we can let go of the despicable things which we have done?
Well…we are forgiven.
We know not what we are doing…

Being forgiven, really believing it, can we live forgiven lives?
Can we step away from the ways of fear and hatred?
It sounds like a miracle.
Once forgiven, we have the opportunity to allow God to transform us.
We have the opportunity to help to transform the world.
We have an opportunity to take on the oppressive systems of the world.
We have the opportunity to take on the genocide of Darfur.
We have the opportunity to put an end to the wars in our cities.
We have the opportunity to put an end to the war in Iraq.
We have the opportunity to transform our communities into authentic community.
God give us the courage to “know what we’re doing…”?
God give us the courage to engage our hearts, souls and minds…
We have the opportunity to remember Jesus’ forgiveness for us
However, this is not a cheap forgiveness
This is not cheap grace.
Jesus forgives us, but also beckons us to turn around.
Jesus beckons us to repent and turn to God.
He beckons us to turn to Him, and turn to those suffering in the world.
Jesus empowers us to come to those places of suffering
We are called to refuse to crucify him all over again.
We are called to refuse to crucify others.
We are forgiven for what we have done, but we are expected to do better.
We are forgiven, and we can be free of our sin, we can turn from our old ways.
We can turn to new ways that move us from the darkened underbrush
We can turn to a broadened perspective that carries us through the dense forest,
Through the maples and oaks, into the groves of pines, to the place where we can see the summit
We can enter that place where we can see from a broad perspective
Where we can see the world as God sees it, we can see that not only are we forgiven
But that we are called to forgive others…We are forgiven, and we can forgive others.
And we are empowered by the Spirit to not only see the world and its suffering, but to respond to it.
To offer ourselves to the world.
To transform the tears of suffering into shouts of joy.
It sounds like a miracle.

But, through God, all things are possible.
“Father Forgive us, we know not what we do.”
And he does.
It sounds like a miracle.

13 January 2008

The Happiest Person in the World

Over at "On Not Being a Sausage," Professor Deirdre Good (of General Theological Seminary) has an interesting post on Matthieu Ricard who is known as "the Happiest Person in the World." And, you can hear a BBC Radio program about him HERE.

I'm going to try to get a bit happier; not an altogether bad New Year's Resolution!


Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, has been called the “happiest person in the world”. Emily Kasriel in the BBC World Service program "Heart and Soul" finds out from him what happiness is.

First, a sense of direction is very important. A sense of flourishing comes from inside, where the mind translates all the circumstances. This gives inner strength and freedom. Genuine happiness comes from altruistic love, inner peace, and not on external circumstances such as things that give us pleasure like meals with friends. Putting hopes and fears outside of us is ultimately disappointing.

In general make distinctions between mental emotions that are toxic: hatred, anger, jealousy. Cultivate inner love and peace and genuine compassion. This involves training. We need to first evoke compassion by thinking of an image such as a child we love and how much we wish health and happiness for that child. Do not let that thinking and imagining go but cultivate it. This is what we practice.

Read Deirdre's post HERE. See the BBC coverage HERE.

Hidden Costs of War

This article in the New York Times is important, and also disturbing .. and points out just one of the most dramatic of the many hidden costs of (perpetual?) war:

Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles

Published: January 13, 2008

Late one night in the summer of 2005, Matthew Sepi, a 20-year-old Iraq combat veteran, headed out to a 7-Eleven in the seedy Las Vegas neighborhood where he had settled after leaving the Army....

This particular 7-Eleven sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino-hotel in a section of town called the Naked City. By day, the area, littered with malt liquor cans, looks depressed but not menacing. By night, it becomes, in the words of a local homicide detective, “like Falluja.”

Mr. Sepi did not like to venture outside too late. But, plagued by nightmares about an Iraqi civilian killed by his unit, he often needed alcohol to fall asleep. And so it was that night, when, seized by a gut feeling of lurking danger, he slid a trench coat over his slight frame — and tucked an assault rifle inside it.

“Matthew knew he shouldn’t be taking his AK-47 to the 7-Eleven”....

Read it all HERE.

11 January 2008

A 'new' project...Reading the Trinity

Since I finished my seminary studies at VTS last May, and was ordained to the transitional diaconate in June (at Philadelphia Cathedral), and then to the priesthood (at St. James, Richmond), I have been incredibly busy while working in the truly 'incarnational' ministry of school chaplaincy. I have also served as clergy associate at a wonderful church here in Richmond -- St. Mark's Episcopal on the Boulevard. I really love my work, and while there are some real challenges and struggles - internal and external, all in all, I feel blessed having the privilege of serving in this way. Working alongside some truly wonderful people, and having the opportunity to teach, advise, and assist students as they develop and grow is a blessing.

In my spiritual practices, I continue to read the Daily Office - that Anglican Practice of reading the scripture and praying in a mode that goes back to ancient monastic practice. I also lead several services each week - as many as 5-7 a week; and find my prayer life growing deeper and broader through these practices. What I have not done as much since leaving seminary is to read theology.

So, my project (I worry that if I say it is a "resolution," I'll never complete it) is to do some reading and study of the Trinity, and also get further grounding and understanding of Ecclesiology. So, to begin, I ran across these two wonderful blog posts over at the "Faith and Theology" blog. Here I begin to explore the Trinity and also Ecclesiology even more deeply.



Ten propositions on the Trinity

1. The Trinity is not an optional doctrine, it is essential. God’s unity is not behind God’s threeness, God’s unity is in God’s threeness. This is not speculative mathematics, it is a descriptive theology of revelation.

2. The Trinity is not an academic doctrine thought up by clever scholars, rather it grew out of the Christian experience of worship, i.e. it expressed the early church’s pattern of prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.

3. The driving force of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity was Christological and soteriological, i.e. it served to articulate the Christian experience of salvation in Christ. The first Christians already knew God; through Jesus they came to know God as Jesus’ Father and Jesus as God’s Son; while in the Spirit Jesus continued to be present to them, forming a family of prayer to the Father and building a community of witness to Christ.

4. The church’s thinking was this: As God discloses himself in worship and salvation, so God must be in Godself. In the technical language of (Karl) Rahner’s Rule: the “economic” Trinity is the “immanent” Trinity, and the “immanent” Trinity is the “economic” Trinity. What you see is what you get, and what you get is what there is.

5. At the heart of the doctrine of the Trinity is God’s being-as-communion. God’s unity is not monadic, it is relational. The doctrine of the Trinity is the church’s exegesis of I John 4:8b: “God is love.” Father, Son and Spirit indwell each other in love, giving, receiving and returning love in an eternal dynamic of gift-exchange.

Read the rest of the Ten HERE.



Trinitarian reading for laypeople

A friend asked me yesterday about works on the Trinity which could be recommended to interested laypeople who have no theological background. I sent her this list of annotated suggestions – but I’d be interested to know if you have any alternative or additional suggestions:
  • Frederica Mathewes-Green, “The Old Testament Trinity,” in God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice, ed. Timothy George (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 83-90. [The title might sound dull, but this is a very beautiful little essay, written by the popular Orthodox writer. The essay is a brief meditation on Rublev's great icon of the Trinity.]

  • Cornelius Plantinga, “Deep Wisdom,” in God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice, ed. Timothy George (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 149-55. [Another chapter from the previous book: a rich and moving homily on the Trinity.]

  • Benedict XVI, “Introduction: An Initial Reflection on the Mystery of Jesus,” in Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 1-8. [A brief discussion of the Father–Son relation as the central dimension of Jesus’ human existence. The basis of the doctrine of the Trinity lies here, in the humanity of Jesus.]

  • Rowan Williams, “A Man for All Seasons,” Chapter 3 in Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 57-78. [Like the previous reading, this isn’t strictly focused on the Trinity, but it’s a superb, illuminating, jargon-free account of the relation between Jesus and God – which is the most important thing to grasp when thinking about the Trinity.]

  • Hans Urs von Balthasar, “The Triune Life,” a chapter in Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 177-97. [A moving reflection on the mystery of the Trinity as the heart of ecclesial life.]

  • Vladimir Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1978), 36-50. [An important and accessible passage from one of the greatest modern Orthodox thinkers, focusing on the relation between the Trinity and human personhood.]

  • Kim Fabricius, “Ten Propositions on the Trinity”. I might seem a bit biased here, but you really can’t go past Kim’s post on the Trinity – it’s concise, profound, beautiful, and best of all true.]


hat tip to "Faith and Theology" ... read it HERE.

Interrupted by.....?

My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.

~~Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)

(hat tip to Irenic Thoughts blog)

St. Catherine's School - Chaplain's Blog: Interrupted by.....?

10 January 2008

Edmund Hllary, Rest in Peace

(CNN) -- Sir Edmund Hillary, who gained worldwide fame after he and guide Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, has died, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.


Sir Edmund Hillary took his fame in stride and considered himself just an ordinary beekeeper.

He was 88.

"Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities," Clark said. "In reality, he was a colossus. He was an heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity."

On May 29, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing became the first men known to have climbed the 29,035 feet to the top of Everest and safely return.

A beekeeper who served during World War II in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Hillary began climbing while in high school and traveled to the central Himalayas to join a British party exploring the southern face of Everest in 1951.

He returned in 1953, when he and Tenzing made their ascent -- spending 15-30 minutes at the summit. Hillary left a crucifix at the top of the mountain and Tenzing, in keeping with his Buddhist beliefs, left an offering of food.

Hillary took a picture of Tenzing at the peak but, because the Sherpa guide did not know how to use a camera, there are no pictures of Hillary there.

Read it all HERE.

Edmund Hillary, First Atop Everest, Dies

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, died Friday. He was 88.

The gangling New Zealander devoted much of his life to aiding the mountain people of Nepal and took his fame in stride, preferring to be called Ed and considering himself an "ordinary person with ordinary qualities."

Hillary died at Auckland Hospital about 9 a.m. Friday from a heart attack, said a statement from the Auckland District Health Board. Though ailing in his later years, he remained active.

His life was marked by grand achievements, high adventure, discovery, excitement — but he was especially pround of his decades-long campaign to set up schools and health clinics in Nepal, the homeland of Tenzing Norgay, the mountain guide with whom he stood arm in arm on the summit of Everest on May 29, 1953. Read the rest HERE