Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gardening: It begins again...

Recently--two weeks ago--I was catching up on my usual blog reading and as I was perusing the posts of Cecilia who has been spending time in her yard and garden, it got me to thinking. Ever one to be inspired by another gardener, I have been doing likewise in my own patch of paradise, that place we gardeners go to get down and dirty with the likes of coral bells, campanula and day lilies..Shasta daisies and phlox, as well as enjoying the emergence of my Japanese water iris...soooooo pretty.

I would show you pictures of these little wonders but I have no mobile digital camera. Well, at least not yet and hanging out the window with my webcam is not ideal since I would have to be Stretch of the X-Men to see what I was photographing back at the computer. Trust me, it's all very lovely.

There have been some interesting developments as I look and read about the "garden" of our Communion. It's downright weedy in some parts, very dry in others and yet the beauty is there and for the most part it is flourishing as God intended His Church to do so. I was listening to our presiding bishop last night on Bill Moyers and I am heartened and very much encouraged by her words and perceptions on the state of our Church in America. Great stuff and definitely fine food for thought. As usual our PB holds her own in these sorts of discussions [not that Bill was a bad egg, you understand...] but she is steadfast and holds the positive course of our faith in the Episcopal Church. I am so glad to have such a "captain"! You can also read a transcript of the interview here.

Another bit of news is that finally some light has shined in the darkness of this administration by the ousting of Joint Chiefs of Staff Commander, General Pace. I'm not sorry to see him go and taking his bigoted views with him. Why do these people think they can legislate their so-called moral views on the rest of us, but more importantly, on the men and women serving in the armed forces of these United States, laying their lives on the line for the retro views of a self-admitted bigot and hate-monger. How did he get into the military in the first place? He disgraces the Marine uniform he wears as well as this country's founding principles of freedom, the pursuit of happiness and ultimately the equality we all want to see be actualized in our lifetime. And I guess you don't insult the Vice President's lesbian daughter no matter who you are by calling her child immoral either. Serves him right for being so stupid...geez, where do they find these guys? Under rocks, I know...

Getting back to this part of the world...As you may have noticed its been a while again since I have written but that's due to a new practical job and the fact that no matter where I go or job I have, somehow sickness and death seem to crop up. Working in health care has that hazard--if you will--of inevitably crossing paths with one or the other, or both aspects of the human condition. Sometimes I want to just say to God, Ok, give me a break from all the suffering and passing from life to death. But that would not be realistic. Sure, I get that way in moments of weakness and weariness but it passes and I stand up again and come to the realization that this is part of my calling, and I have no choice in the matter. And that's ok. I seem to fit into the scenarios that come my way and people do appreciate what I can offer. I mean, once a chaplain, always a chaplain, right? Right.

Regarding Lambeth '08. Funny, it sounds almost Olympian! My heart is not broken or remorseful about Nigeria and Uganda pulling out. Maybe now we can get something accomplished without the boys of summer crashing the party. Perhaps now, some real substantive talk can be made and real, practical decisions can be reached in the areas that are really in need of attention: poverty, hunger, healthcare, education in the countries that need the help of ERD and other hard-working agencies, inside and outside of the Church and Communion.

And in regard to the uninvited bishops. It is a sad and telling thing that +Gene was not invited but at the same time, I am glad Martyn Minns wasn't invited either because he is not a real bishop since he has broken his ordination vows in more ways than one in the Episcopal Church. And gee, I don't see him or the others of like mind clammering to move to Nigeria to be with his archbishop and wickedness transpiring there. Maybe Rowan thought if he removed what he perceives to be catalysts from Lambeth that things would be hunky-dory. And as I have said, one good thing has come of it, the revolting faction of Akinola and his Ugandan counterparts are not coming and they are most likely all in a huff because +Gene won't be there to be their whipping boy, and also because their golden child Martyn won't be allowed to come and play.
I'm sure that in his own way, Martyn is a nice guy but these reactionary views of are his stumbling block.

All right. Enough regarding the continuing saga of the kerfuffle in the Communion. Now then...
my parish priest wants us parshioners to consider the art of "heartstorming". I am certain this is a Bartlettism so stand back and prepare to be dazzled and transported to a new state of consciousness. Essentially she would like us to consider ways in which we can cultivate the spirit of prayer and spiritual growth for this Fall. We will be meeting this Monday evening to discuss ideas and share in a time of prayer [we do lots of that practice!]. So, if you can think of something new that you have heard of or a practice that you yourself engage in, please feel free to share it so I can pass it on. I've come up with a pageful already but am open to new ideas because I will be the first to admit that I simply cannot think of EVERYTHING [she said ever so modestly].

Thanks for your comments and input, but I ask you dear reader, to keep it clean, informative and Godward. Oh and lets help mind the garden and all that grows in it. Even the weeds are God's creation, and somehow--though we may not see it immediately--they are here for some sort of good.



Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Thoughts on Old Theology: Deep Church

I have recently found a new blog, Deep Church, that is based on a new book by the same name. It explores the layers of what we know as Church and the new, refreshing theology that surrounds it.

Now, I have only read the blog, not the book as yet. It is always great to come across new and spiritually deep titles. I believe that Jesus calls us--modern Christians--to remember that He brought about a deeper church in His own day, or at least the beginning of it. We have been told by Paul that the "old shall be come new" and it has, much to the chargin of some and the delight of others. When Jesus says that "today this Scripture has been fulfilled", He meant it all, not just the part He had read on that particular Shabot. Christ became and IS the fulfillment of the Law, a deeper and more meaning fulfillment than the Old Testament writers and believers of extreme fundamentalism believed then and now. It is His grace and pure goodness that should make us look at His commandments in a new light. Loving our neighbor is a hard thing to do, especially in the old-fashioned sense of the phrase. Loving your neighbor used to mean you'd wave hello, cut exactly your strip of grass and not theirs, keep your yard nice so you don't spoil the neighborhood...basically keeping up with the Joneses and let nothing stir the waters. the putting on of socially accepted "airs".

Jesus meant for us to do far more than the basically accepted limits of the command. It means now for those who are as progressive as He was and is, that you radically love you neighbor, that EVERYONE is your neighbor regardless if they live next door or one country over. It means that their sex life has nothing to do with who they really are. Sexuality is such a tiny part of the moral fiber of a person. So many more important qualities are the things that really count in a person. I know how it was when the first Hispanic family moved into the house diagonally from ours. The neighbors were less than welcoming and whispered in little groups on the street corners and pointed...they had the audacity to point! I'm not a pointer. I'm a doer, as in pick some flowers and go say "Hola'!"

We now treat sexuality as we did racism--negatively--but in my neighborhood, our gay folk keep to themselves unless you know from walking your dog everyday and meeting your neighbors in their yard that R and her partner J live in the same house, or T and his partner S, who live in the little over-garage apartment on the other side of the block, are part of the gay community. Or the single gal who has a discreet rainbow sticker on her car but talks about her girlfriend in that giddy sort of way that tells you someone feels very blessed.

Our gay brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, are people like us; paying taxes, making car payments, going to their children's school events, meeting friends on the golf course, making the mortgage payment, going to church on Sunday and helping on committees to make their communities better places for EVERYONE. They are the same element as the rest of humanity: Hu-8 [I'd make the 8 an exponent like its supposed to be but Blogger won't let me!].

So I would like to invite and encourage you to visit Deep Church and maybe even buy the book [we would check it out at the local library in my county except they are all closed due to a lack of funding...sigh]. Take part in the discussions and comments, civilly of course. I am big on courtesy these days for reasons known to me and my readers a few posts ago.

Jesus was a radical, good people. He turned the Old Testament world on its head. We should live by His example in all aspects of our lives. So, go love your neighbor, and no, you don't have to get all touchy-feelly; they would probably prefer that you NOT. But remember that the world is your neighborhood and only we can show the all encompassing love of Christ so desperately needed in this world, the example of His love and grace.



Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wisdom from The Geranium Farm

Yet again, Barbara Cawthorn Crafton+ manages to put perspective on the unsettled waters of the Communion and life in general by taking us by the hand and leading us into her garden. I am thankful for her words and her unfaltering spirit.


You're very pretty, but you're out of control.

This was addressed to a pretty little creeper, whom I had allowed to stay in place when she appeared and who is now carpeting the garden, trying to smother all the lavender on one side.

She is pretty: little blue flowers atop nice round leaves with frilled edges. But today will be a day of ruthless weeding. You can't be emotional about weeding. Just do it. Whistling "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" while you weed helps you get through it.

What gives me the right to this campaign? Who am I to decide who will remain in the garden and who will not? Nothing gives me the right, I guess, except the fact that I am the gardener. I have responsibility for a whole garden full of plants, never for just one plant. My little blue-flowered friend can't run rampant and kill other plants.

Weeds are just plants, after all, plants who have a hard time with limits. They are not evil. The same things happens in groups of people, too, especially in groups of well-meaning people who want to affirm the gifts others. Churches, for instance. Sometimes a person whose need for recognition and power is deeper than the group can supply can begin to function like a weed, taking over everything the group tries to do, inserting her need for attention into every issue. She means no harm, but she can do a great deal of it. She isn't thinking clearly: her own neediness clouds her good intentions.

Very careful limits need to be set, and she will not like it. She will think you're not a good Christian, that you don't understand or respect her gifts, that nobody does. This makes the group feel guilty and sad: Maybe we should just let it go, they say to each other, she's had a hard life, after all. They yield to her way. But then they realize that they don't enjoy activities in which everything has to be about her, and they stop coming.

This is a time for reason, not for emotion. Whatever her needs, she is not the only one in the group whose bloom must be encouraged and protected: everyone needs his or her time in the sun. It may be that it is only by containing her can others find the sun.

If she can't make the shift, she may have to leave the garden. If she can, though, she's on her way to a maturity she never could have gained if everyone had folded and given her everything she wanted.

The words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic were written by Julia Ward Howe, who knew something about the loving setting of limits: she was also the founder of the American observance of Mother's Day.


Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -

The woman is gifted and there is no getting around it!


Don't change the channel...

I will be posting a "real" post later but for now everyone play nice and practice mercy to those around you....yes, even those who don't like you or think you don't belong in the Family of Christ.

Until later, go in peace to love and serve the Lord, alleluia, alleluia!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Housekeeping Notes

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all mommies everywhere!

Second of all, I will not tolerate anonymous, negative and denigrating posts about my Episcopal Church or my PB. All such posts will be zapped from existence, forthwith.

Thirdly, anyone who praises a foreign bishop for persecuting his own people and parishioners, gay or straight, have something seriously wrong with their heads as well as their hearts, and are totally clueless about Jesus' message of salvation. Anyone who praises a foreign bishop for "trespassing" in to a Province or diocese that should have its jurisdiction respected accordingly, is WAY out of line. Ya don't see any of our legitimate Episcopal bishops trotting over to Nigeria and starting a "mission" to undermine the current Nigerian bishop. We are above such nonsense and power-mongering. Thanks be to God that ++Katharine has the intelligence and spiritual maturity it takes to be a leader in the Church, and has an understanding of what the Gospel message was then, is now and should be for the future: Love God, love your neighbor. What part of these two commandments handed down by Christ DON'T they understand? It doesn't get any simpler than that. Someone needs to tell Ephraim Radner and Martyn [and no, he doesn't get a cross in front of his name...period].

Fourthly, being "infatuated" by my PB as I have been accused of is so far off the mark that its laughable. I admire and respect her because she has earned it and has proven her metal with the boys in Tanzania. They were wise enough to behave as well as they did with the exception of little Peter who had his usual whinges and did not want to play nice with the rest of the group or break bread with a girl.

Fifthly, the Episcopal Church is not at the root of the crack in the Communion's sidewalk. Talk about a lack of spirit of cooperation. The Bishop of Nigeria is against reconciliation as well as keeping the Communion together. He is for imprisoning Christians in his own country if the don't tout his "party" line. His actions and words prove this. How he can blame the Episcopal Church is truly flummoxing. He is a schism unto himself, and he has no one else to blame but the reflection he sees in the mirror. End of story.

So, aside from all that, things are well in the southwestern corner of Oregon, the state that brought you the original Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, priest, before she became the Bishop of Nevada and Presiding Bishop of our own Episcopal Church. We have blue sky, snow in the mountains, sun in the valleys, vineyards and flowers flourishing, and a gentle breeze whiffling around it all. I would say that our Episcopal Church is alive and well here in Oregon as well as the national entity, in spite of the acne that would attempt to deface it.

Until next time, happy Eastertide to all.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Catching Up

Hi everyone, I'm back on an even keel now.

Well, things have been hopping a bit in the TEC and AC [The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion respectively] since I checked in last. It seems that Big Pete Akinola doesn't listen to ++Rowan no matter what now, nor to anyone else for that matter.

As you may already know, ++Rowan wrote +Peter to ask him to reconsider coming to America to install Martyn Minns as his Bishop of CANA in the USA. +Peter summarily ignored ++Rowan [and yes, he did get Rowan's letter before he left Nigeria] and transgressed our boundaries, both physical and ecclesiastical anyway. Of course, before ++Rowan's letter there was ++Our Kate's letter asking +Peter to reconsider as well and not create greater division withing the AC. Of course, he answered her in a condescending and patriarchal tone to the tune of no way, no how an I gonna stay out of this whole shebang, lady! Obviously he feels threatened by her calm and intelligent demeanor, as well as her wise and mature spirituality.

I think we are all getting weary of this game that the supposed orthodox are playing. And we have to remember that they are such a tiny percentage of the Episcopal/Anglican mix here in the US that they are essentially a gnat, longing for any attention they can get, regardless of how that attention is obtained or who it denigrates--Christ.

Our House of Bishops has spoken and the September 3oth "deadline" that the Tanzanian Communique imposes is dead in the proverbial water. They have put on the armor of God and nothing, not even Big Pete, can prevail against it. The AC does not own us. We choose to be a part of the AC and wish to remain within it, but I say, hey, if they are going to condemn us for loving our neighbor as ourselves, then we are leaps and bounds over +Peter's sanctimonious drivel and that of Minns, Duncan, Iker, Stanton and the rest of the boys who are fuming because they cannot get their way; that they cannot play kings and rule over us and the Church.

I have only one King and Ruler, and it is Christ. The Episcopal Church is living proof of Christ's endless and unequivocal love and grace. I have no fear of these Pharisees because they will get nowhere with their twisted fundamentalism and legalistic dogma.

There, I'm through for now.