Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Discernment is driving me crazy

Last week I linked to a blog entry entitled Discernment Looks Boring which talked about the new Harry Potter movie and how its slowness was representative of the hard work of discernment.

I realized today that I'm also struggling with discernment with this whole job search process. The running around and doing things part is easy; the actual sitting down and figuring out what I want to do? Not so much.

I've spent all morning doing stuff and avoiding the thinking stuff. As soon as I post this, I will shut down the computer and go and think.

The big question is "what do I want to do?" Since my answer to that is, I don't have a clue, the first thing I need to figure out are what are the smaller components that add up to "what I want to do."

Finding a job is hard enough. I had no idea it was going to be that much harder to find out what kind of job I'm looking for. What a slog! Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Turning off computer now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Morning Preacher: Killing the children

If tomorrow were as clear now as it will be tomorrow night, we would probably presume on its joys or be distracted by its sorrows...Our life is so constituted that we must live by venture.

Great quote, huh? It's from my beloved Interpreter's Bible 1952, the exegesis on Matthew 24:36: "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

I especially love that word "venture," and had all sorts of thoughts about where to go with it. There's venture capital; what is the equivalent when what you venture is your life? And how does the word "venture" illuminate the season of Advent with that same Latinate "vent" in it? And then "adventure"! And maybe talk about the Harry Potter movie...Oh, man, I was having a great time!

But it just didn't fit. Did not fit. Could not make it fit. And so I had to lose it: this quote from the Interpreter's Bible, the word "venture," the word play, the Harry Potter reference...all gone.

A friend of mine calls this "killing the children." And it feels that way--these little brain babies that you gave birth to, all gone. But what is left isn't about my little brain babies, but about the message I want to convey. There was still a message about venturing forth, about adventure, about Advent. But it didn't get all tangled in a passel of my kids running around unsupervised.

I realize now upon writing this that I haven't really killed the children at all, just internalized them. They were all there, informing the sermon. They just weren't running the show. God willing, it made for a more coherent message. And who knows? These children may grow up to be their own full-bodied message someday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Hermione Granger Series

I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1 the other day which was very good--very tense! I kept finding myself unclenching when there was a moment of comic relief, not knowing that I had been clenched for long periods of time. It was like an isometric workout!

I understand why they are the Harry Potter books. But let's be clear, here: there's no way Harry survives without Hermione. None. Since they came to Hogwarts, Harry needs Hermione to get through each year: academically, emotionally, and physically. Ron, bless his little heart, knows this full well, saying to Harry early on in this movie that he won't be able to make it alone--and specifically that he needs Hermione.

I've been trying to think what the--let's call them the Hogwarts books--would look like if they were written from Hermione's perspective rather than Harry's. I mean, it is quite a journey from this:

to this:

[photos courtesy of the Harry Potter wiki]

Befriending Harry Potter was the making of Hermione, too, of course. She could very easily have stayed simply a star pupil, obedient to authority, successful within the system. Kind of like Percy Weasley. Instead, she became a morally complex character who walks away from school for what she perceives is a larger purpose despite the very high costs to herself. (I am reminded of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany.)

Seeing the story from Hermione's perspective, Harry is not so much heroic when he wishes to go it alone as broken, an abused child from a neglectful family where the best you can hope for is not being noticed and the only person you can count on is yourself. Ron gives Harry a family, but Ron himself is not completely reliable. Hermione, however, is steady as a rock and consistent throughout. She holds these characters together, and she holds the series together.

I say it again: if there's no Hermione Granger, there's no Harry Potter. Or at least he doesn't get very far.


In other people's blogs, Kurt Weisner does a very helpful side-by-side of the book and the new movie--full of spoilers, so don't read it if you haven't seen the film yet.

And Jan Edmiston has a great entry on how the movie is like Advent called Discernment looks boring. I highly recommend it.

Advent: A public service reminder

Here's what I wrote for the All Saints newsletter for December:

Happy Advent! I like to think of Advent as the secret season, known only to a few. The rest of the world is crazy and consumed with consumerism, but inside the church, we’re a little quieter, a little contemplative. There’s something a little somber about Advent—not gloomy, but maybe a bit melancholy. Our winter season helps with that, of course, as the days get shorter and chillier here in the Northern hemisphere. The weather itself suggests we should slow down and settle in for a bit.

I think Advent is an excellent season for clearing out clutter. I don’t just mean the actual physical clutter, of course, but the spiritual clutter that builds up when we don’t have the time or space to reflect. “Let every heart prepare him room,” says the carol, and Advent is the time for preparing that space for the Christ child to enter.

By "spiritual clutter" I mean whatever it is that makes it harder for you to love God and love your neighbor. It may be an over-busy schedule. It may be the pursuit of a nebulous or unreal goal. It may be expectations you place on yourself or on others. It may be a grudge or a fantasy. If you ask yourself what makes it harder for you to love God and neighbor, take a look at what comes up. It may be spiritual clutter, and it might need to go.

I know the heat is on to get everything done and ready and wrapped and perfect, and I don’t want to add any pressure to that. But I would encourage you this Advent to take even a few moments to reflect, to take a walk in nature, to have a quiet evening, taking a look at the spiritual clutter and preparing Christ room. You don’t have to do it perfectly. But you might find the preparation brings you closer to God, to your neighbor, and to your true self.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two weeks worth of various and sundry, Friday after Thanksgiving edition

It bothers me that I haven't been writing much on the blog in recent weeks. There are things I still have on my list to write about at greater length...but in the meantime, here are some other folks who have actually done the blogging I have neglected to do.

In case you're still hungry, Phillip Oliver who mostly blogs on gardening at Dirt Therapy (awesome photography!) posted a recipe for Carrot and Pineapple Cake which looked really good. Personally, I'm still digesting this fantastic apple pie which beat out pumpkin in last night's pie face-off. The hostess offered to send the last piece home with the maker; the host simply scooped the last piece on to his plate. It was mighty good.

I really liked this iMonk classic entry on Archie Bunker, "the patron saint of Christians who can’t stop making their point." So true no matter where you are on the theological spectrum.

On a completely different level of self-righteousness, The Shadow Scholar is an article about a man who writes assignments for college students for a custom essay-writing company. In other words, he helps them cheat. Fascinating essay. But what it makes me wonder is why someone so completely amoral is only earning $66K a year. You would think someone as unscrupulous as this, who blames other people for the fact that students cheat, would find a more lucrative and less draining career.

The author of this article is talking about climate change, but I think his notion is true in other areas as well: that change in behavior sparks change in belief and not vice versa. It's kind of a companion to the Errol Morris dictum I've mentioned before: that believing is seeing and not the other way around. And to the Anglican dictum (OK, it pre-dates Anglicanism, but we love it) Lex orandi, lex credendi -- "The law of prayer is the law of belief" -- meaning (very roughly) that how we pray shapes what we believe. See? I would have written a whole blog entry on that, but now you've got it in one paragraph.

The reliably interesting blog Design Fetish featured this monkey made of flip flops. Isn't he awesome?

Meanwhile, at Hyperbole and a Half, I thought this story about how the author's dogs handled an interstate move was hilarious. Favorite quote: "making high-pitched noises won't solve your problem if your problem is a complete inability to cope with change." Oh so true.

Finally, I was glad to read Abraham Lincoln's proclamation on the original Thanksgiving in 1863. Did you know that the Thanksgiving holiday was established in 1863? In the midst of the Civil War? I did not.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore...It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

Smart man, that Lincoln. And for all the many blessings we have received, including being able to share my thoughts with you, I am indeed most thankful.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday, November 23

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's ChildrenThis week's teaser is from the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, written by John Wood, the founder of Room to Read. All you bookish types who love reading coming to this blog from Should Be Reading might want to check them out. They do good work.

Those of you who regularly follow this blog know that Room to Read is an organization where I did an informational interview last week. I would love to work there. Such an amazing organization! And the founder's story is pretty incredible too.

Here's the teaser:

I did the math in my head several times because I kept arriving at a figure of ten cents per hour, and I simply could not imagine this small amount being the difference between receiving an education and not. So I confirmed the current exchange rate, and my math, with Vu. Yes, ten cents.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where you will find all the details. What are you reading? Please join in!

Monday, November 22, 2010

On the feast of C.S. Lewis

I wrote this for the Confirm not Conform blog, but, heck, I'm cross-posting it here.

Today in the Episcopal Church, we recognize C.S. Lewis, “Apologist and Writer,” but the truth is that for me he was my first theologian.

I read The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, and then The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce as a teenager (and as part of our youth group). On my own, I read Lewis’ science fiction trilogy, and had to turn on all the lights in the house when I read the final book of the series, That Hideous Strength, at home alone.

As a young adult, I read Mere Christianity, Surprised By Joy, A Grief Observed, and other parts of the Lewis canon. I’m sure I’ve read more by Lewis than any other single theologian.

And though I have my reservations about some of Lewis’ theology, though I cringe at the casual racism and sexism running rampant through Narnia and his other writing, the truth is his writing has formed me as a Christian probably more than anyone else’s.

One of the things I appreciate about Lewis, and about the Narnia series in particular, is that it isn’t something I’ve left behind as a childish thing. I can still engage with it, argue with it, mull it over, find insight in it. He wrote for children, but did not condescend to them—to us, I should probably say.

He did not keep us safe. Yes, he did try to explain pain and evil and grief. But he also allowed the “patient” of Screwtape Letters to die in the Blitz; he let some of the travelers on the bus from hell to heaven go back to hell in The Great Divorce; he allowed terrible and terrifying things to happen in That Hideous Strength (it’s still pretty terrible, but I don’t need to turn on all the lights these days); and he allowed Narnia to die—and of course be raised again.

I think one reason his writing still works, 50 years later and for many ages, is because he describes worlds we recognize: an imperfect world, a world with flaws, foibles, and failures. Narnia is a wonderful world, but it isn't completely safe. Bad things happen, people mess up, sometimes very badly. And yet God reigns. That is the impression of Lewis’ work and theology that stays with me. That’s something I hope I won’t outgrow.

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Busy, busy, busy! Job search update

Forgive the dearth of blogging. I realized this morning why it's been so minimal the past couple of weeks. I calculate I'm doing 3 1/2 jobs right at the moment: there's working for Confirm not Conform, of course. I'm also, as you may recall, the sabbatical interim at All Saints, San Leandro, which requires a scoosh more time than Sundays.

Then, of course, there's the job search job which takes up more time than the other two! And then, finally, there's the new eBay stuff which is becoming a job in its own right--one with a very steep learning curve. Who knew people would be interested in my old flatware? Or that there was so much to learn about stainless steel spoons?

It's been a very busy week on the job search front. I got a particularly painful rejection letter from a parish; particularly painful because I had had a GREAT interview with them after which they said they wanted to hear me preach. Then yesterday I got a very impersonal letter (not even a signature!) saying, "we must regrettably inform you that your application was not selected for further consideration." Confused about this, I wrote to the head of the search committee, asking really? She wrote back saying, in essence, really, but maybe you'll come do supply work for us sometime.

I think I'm done looking for church jobs.

Meanwhile, I had a great informational interview at Room to Read through a friend of a friend. That networking thing takes a dogged persistence, I tell you what. Not my natural mode, but it really is amazing how connected you can be if you ask.

Finally, I've signed up with a couple of temp agencies since (ta da!) my position at Confirm not Conform will be...not exactly eliminated, but set to contract work beginning in 2011. Which is not a huge surprise (for me), but adds to the urgency of the other work I'm doing--particularly the job search part.

So that's the news. I'm sure I will find a new position, but it's going to be a lot of work in the meantime. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two obituaries

If there isn't a movie planned for this story, there should be. I am a total sucker for inspirational teacher stories, and Fred Goldhaber's obituary certainly fits the bill. A total tear-jerker.

On the other hand, there The Reverend Roger Holloway who, if he is half as entertaining as his obituary, must have been a FANTASTIC dinner guest. Really, you must drop everything and read his obituary AT ONCE! I mean, check out that picture! Are you not intrigued?

Teaser Tuesday, 11/16

I still have about 7000 pages to go in the BEHEMOTH that is Sovereign. I'm behind on my sleep because I keep reading and reading and still our hero Shardlake is in peril. PERIL, I tell you!  I'd tell you what the peril is, but it is too perilous.

But let us leave him in peril for a moment as our teaser takes us into completely new territory: eBay! I am dipping my toe into the world of online auctions and am reading up on the subject in between perils.

eBay Business All-in-One For DummiesI admit, it's kind of hard to find a Teaser in that great classic eBay Business for Dummies, but we'll do our best to find something riveting. Thrilling! Suspenseful! Such as this cliffhanger:

eBay penalizes sellers who charge high shipping fees and rewards sellers who offer Free Shipping by giving them better visibility in the Best Match search results. Try listing your item with the minimum shipping amount included in your selling price.

What on earth will happen next?!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB who gives all the details and instructions at Should Be Reading.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Preacher: the dreaded children's sermon

After yesterday's illustration, I thought I'd give my thoughts on children's sermons which, as you see from the title of this entry, are not my favorite things.

I remember very clearly one poor woman trying so hard to give a children's sermon on Christmas Eve. It went something like this:

Preacher: Who's the most powerful superhero you can think of?
Children: GOD!
Preacher: No, I mean, you know, superheroes.
Children (muttering): Superman, Spiderman, blah blah blah.
Preacher: OK, now think of a tiny baby...
Children: JESUS!
Preacher: No, just wait a minute...

I misrepresent, but not by much.

I'm not a big fan of the "ask the adorable children a question" school of children's sermons. I'm also not really a huge fan of "have the adorable children come up front and sit around the preacher" school of children's sermons. When it's about being able to see and hear--fine. When it's largely about the "awww" factor, I'm a mite concerned. So often it seems like this is putting kids on the spot at their expense and sharing with the adult congregation the "adorable" things they say.

Yes, he's my favorite superhero. So?
The other things that gets me is how this lets adults off the hook. How would that sermon have been different if the preacher had asked the whole congregation, "Who is your favorite superhero?" and expected adults to answer too? I mean, would you like it if people said, "Awww!" when you said your favorite superhero was Danger Mouse? My feeling is that having everyone participate in the sermon means that children can see adults modeling an active faith. Having them not participate models that when you're grown up, your job in church is to sit quietly and not say anything.

What the example above says to me is that children learn very quickly what is the "right" answer--even though the question was the kind of open-ended question you think would appeal to a child on a subject with which they are familiar. Learning church lingo starts awfully early. One of the things I fear is that the dreaded children's sermon conveys more than anything the message that in church you must know your proper place and play your proper role.

I do think there are ways to have a sermon that engages children. I'm big on telling stories, for example.

All these illustrations are in the same pose; did you notice?
But there's just something about the way the "traditional" children's sermon is presented that rubs me the wrong way. I think there's something in many of the children's sermons I've heard that suggests a nicey-niceyness. And nicey-niceyness isn't true to anyone's experience, I don't care how old you are.  Just because there's a rainbow doesn't mean it's a nice story. Just because it's a children's sermon doesn't mean it needs to be pablum.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Funnies

I was trying to find something funny about pledge Sunday (or commitment Sunday or stewardship Sunday, or whatever you call it), but I couldn't find any image I liked as much as this one.

Oh dearie me, yes.

h/t Sacred Sandwich

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Various and Sundry, 11/13

It's been a super-busy week and I didn't get to blog as I would have liked. But other people did, and here is some of it.

I still haven't dared to watch The Walking Dead, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the winner of the 2010 Zombie Safe House Competition. I'm glad the architects are on board and thinking about these things. Lorin, I'm looking forward to your 2011 entry.

Speaking of the actual dead, there were a number of obituaries I particularly liked this week.

First up: Charles Reynolds, a magician's magician. He helped create the tricks used by the famous illusionists. “Like most boys, he was interested in magic,” his wife said. “But most of them grow out of it. He never did.”

I've got to tip my hat to Jule Sugarman, the bureaucrat who made Head Start a success. At Obit Mag, as he observes the focus on this bureaucratic success, "Grim Reader can’t help wondering whether the Obitosphere’s focus on the wonders of fast-moving institution-building wouldn’t have been different if the current ambitious Democratic president weren’t facing a Congress out to undo his still very much unbuilt signature program."

I LOVED Julia Clements, the high priestess of flower arranging who died at the age of 104. "The author Beverley Nichols once described her as 'the head of a vast salvation army in which souls are saved through the medium of flowers'." The story of how and why she started got me all teary. Pass this one on to your Altar Guild!

I was intrigued by the obituary for Peter Hilton who was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during WWII.

During his time at Bletchley Park, Hilton was given every fourth week off to hone his cryptanalytical skills; by way of a change of mental gear, he helped Turing solve chess problems, puffed on his pipe, and once spent a sleepless night composing one of the world's longest palindromes: DOC, NOTE: I DISSENT. A FAST NEVER PREVENTS A FATNESS. I DIET ON COD.

Finally, obit-wise, I LOVED this one as much for the headline as anything: Howard Van Hyning, Percussionist and Gong Enthusiast, Dies at 74. The story of the gongs in question is quite touching, actually.

One of the things I did this week was try to reduce my wireless phone bill. I found a very easy way to reduce my 3G coverage costs, thanks to this article. If you have 3G on AT&T I highly recommend you check this out.

Finally (although there's more I could share), I recommend this blog entry about offering our prayers for those who have died in combat. Simply lovely.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Munu Munu

It's my dad's birthday today, and he's at home with a cold. I think he should take some cold medicine and a healthy dose of the following. Of course, if he sings along it will be "budubudu."

Happy birthday, Dad!

Adventures in texting

So there I was, cooking dinner and sipping Chardonnay when my phone buzzes with a text. The full exchange follows:

Diz da m.o.bb lil bitch

Go suck a lil dick bitch

You nasty lil motherfucker


I'm afraid you have the wrong number.

Use diz

Maybe wrong numba

Who diz

Who diz


Really, I think you have the wrong number.

Ohh sorry brahh though iz my lil homes

But iz good I'm sorry

No prob.  Good night.

Good night but still sorry that how I talk to my friend in school we like to joke around wit mean words

I hate to tell you this but I'm a 42 year old Episcopal priest.  I was pretty certain your message wasn't meant for me.  No harm no foul, really.  You take care.  And be good to your friends.

Aright sorry priest please forgive me

Please forgive me sorry mam

It's ok; I'm in the forgiveness biz.

Now go back to what to what you were doing before I texted cause I though u were my feiend from school by Laura sorry mam




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday, November 9

Sovereign: A Matthew Shardlake Mystery (Matthew Shardlake Mysteries)I'm reading the third Matthew Shardlake mystery by C.J. Ransom, Sovereign. I was amazed at how I felt transported back to the reign of Henry the VIII by the very first page. Do you get that same feeling?

Here are the first three sentences of the book (because I am a Teaser Tuesday scofflaw).

It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. The ground was thick with fallen leaves; the horses' hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road. A wretched track, Barak had called it earlier, grumbling yet again about the wildness of this barbarian land I had brought him to.

I first learned about this series thanks to a Teaser Tuesday.  Thank you to whoever it was who introduced them to me. 

Official and authentic guidelines for Teaser Tuesday are found at Should Be Reading where MizB is your host.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Morning Preacher: Update

The woman who last week thought I wasn't fiery enough told me yesterday that I seemed more joyful. Whatever that means. I don't know that I was more joyful than I had been the week before. But I'll take it.

I did address a couple of issues I've talked about here before: preaching in the first person, and simply stating my conclusions. No hemming and hawing. No apologies. It was tough for me, but I think it went...pretty well. It was an effort of will to proclaim rather than suggest, but I can see the difference and I have hopes this is a step in the right direction.

Preaching without hedging didn't feel bad; it just felt unnatural, like a change in posture, which I guess is what it was. Maybe it will become second-nature in time. I'll keep you posted.

Quote of the day

"If you can open your series by shooting an adorable little six year old girl in the head, we guess wearing human offal is the next logical step."

Tom and Lorenzo, writing about The Walking Dead. I have the series on my DVR, but I don't really have much stomach for zombie movies (or television series), despite the theme running through this blog. I like my dead really dead.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday funnies

Speaking of Wallace and Gromit and Christmas cards...

Shockingly secular!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Various and sundry, November 5

Still trying to come up with a good name for this feature. I changed it this week because I realized it's not all about the writing; sometimes it's the information I found fascinating.

Such as learning that those "close door" buttons in elevators are placebo buttons. When you've pushed them a dozen times and the doors don't close and you wonder, "Why aren't they doing anything?", it's because they're designed not to do anything. They only operate if you have the key. Oh, and thermostats in office buildings? Total fakes, most of 'em.

On the job search front, a friend of mine sent me this article that argues all that job interviews show is whether a person is good at interviewing. Maybe I should send this anonymously to any company where I apply.

As I spent some of my week thinking about being a person of strong opinion, I was struck by this article on The Importance of Being Unprincipled. The point was this: "The article is not saying there are no principles worth upholding. It’s just suggesting that we very, very carefully decide which ones they are....Perhaps we all could use a little of being 'unprincipled' and of 'weakly holding some strong opinions.'” I like that idea.

If you've got time on your hands and spend it staring into space, you might be interested in checking out GalaxyZoo. As I learned, "It's a crowdsource project to have regular people -- citizen scientists, as they say -- do image-processing for large-scale projects." Like classifying galaxy images from the Hubble telescope or sorting out the craters of the moon. I thought that was pretty cool!

Certainly Wallace and Gromit would do this. The boys are in trouble, however, for appearing on a Christmas stamp in the UK. How dare they have a secular Christmas stamp?! I would totally use these; I wish they had them here.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teaser Thursday

The Sleeping Beauty ProposalSince I didn't do my usual Tuesday book blog, I'm doing it today. Here's the teaser (which isn't so much a teaser as two sentences that made me laugh) from The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer:

"That's what you get, being a Christian," he quips, flattening out the pages. "First, we're thrown to the lions, and then we're forced to mix martinis for Episcopalians."

The heroine then points out that Episcopalians are Christians too, but I still loved the quote.

And I'm loving this book. Very funny, very insightful (is that a word?), satisfying read. You know, although the description is apt, I hate to use the word Chick Lit. It's just a fun book with women taking the lead and talking about relationships. You got a problem with that?

Our heroine, Genie Michaels, is an admissions officer for Thoreau College (how often do you get novels about admissions officers, first of all?) whose English professor boyfriend of four years has just published a huge best-seller. Will he propose now that he's gotten the success? And what about Nick, the super-hot contractor who works with her brother? What on earth will happen??? Hmmm...tough call, there.

You know exactly where this is going, but it's so much fun getting there. And it really does have some interesting points to make about women and marriage. I'm enjoying this read a lot.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Richard Hooker

For one reason or another, I haven't mentioned any saints in a long time. But on this day after the election, I am glad to celebrate the feast of Richard Hooker. He's kind of a theological Obama, staying cool while everyone else is all hot and bothered.

I don't know as much about Hooker as I would like, except that he was basically one of the founding fathers of Anglicanism, and that very few people have actually read his theological masterpiece upon which much of Anglicanism depends: Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie. I certainly haven't. Don't plan to either. And so I am completely dependent upon Wikipedia which says that

He argued that church organization, like political organization, is one of the "things indifferent" to God. He wrote that minor doctrinal issues were not issues that damned or saved the soul, but rather frameworks surrounding the moral and religious life of the believer. He argued there were good monarchies and bad ones, good democracies and bad ones, and good church hierarchies and bad ones, what mattered was the piety of the people. At the same time, Hooker argued that authority was commanded by the Bible and by the traditions of the early church, but authority was something that had to be based on piety and reason rather than automatic investiture. This was because authority had to be obeyed even if it were wrong and needed to be remedied by right reason and the Holy Spirit. Notably, Hooker's affirmed that the power and propriety of bishops need not be in every case absolute.
[emphasis mine]

It seems so obvious, and yet we get so caught up in arguing whether the structures are good or bad, the political parties are good or bad, the label is good or bad, that we miss the hard middle way of "It depends." It may depend upon the person, or the location, or the circumstances. But one of the great thing Hooker offers is the possibility of change. That changing opinion is not weakness, but right reason in the light of new information.

"New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth."
says the hymn. Much easier to understand than Hooker. But I think the point is...similar.

As far as the election goes: what's done is done. The votes are cast. Time to do what needs doing in the light of that new information and new situation. No better way to face that than with the collect for the day:

O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion*: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

*insert your controversial issue here.

Job search help!

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-ChangersAs most of you know, I'm thinking very hard about this crazy career path of mine. I haven't closed out the possibility of parish work, but I also know there's no guarantee. The longer I'm not in parish ministry, the more unlikely it seems I will return.

And so I've been working through Richard Bolles' great book, "What Color is your Parachute?" I've gotten to the part where I've sussed out all my interests, transferable skills and all the rest. I look at this list and I have no clue what kind of job this might mean.

Here's where I need your help: Would you please look at the list below and let me know what jobs come to mind to you when you see them?

What job do you think of that uses
1) Analysis
2) Preaching
3) Gathering information/doing research
4) Writing
5) Designing/developing
especially in the fields of
6) Africa
7) Media literacy

No fair saying preacher!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh, I wish.

h/t Mom

Congratulations, Giants!

No Teaser Tuesday today. I've been spending all my time watching baseball. What a great, crazy, wonderful World Series! Congratulations, Giants!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Morning Preacher: Preaching like a girl

I thought the sermon went pretty well yesterday, kind of middle of the pack. But afterwards I got an interesting comment: that I wasn’t fiery enough. Huh.

I had a meeting with the music director after that which led to a long discussion about claiming authority which made me realize something: I have a habit of preaching (and blogging) thusly:

“Here’s what I think, and I’m not saying that’s right—I’m not saying that’s wrong either. I’m just saying this is what I think at the moment, but, you know, if I think about it some more I might change my mind, so don’t mind me.”

One of the things I need to work on is preaching (and blogging) thusly:

“Here’s what I think.”

That’s going to be hard for me.

I’m stopping now before I say something diffident.