Wednesday, August 31, 2005

more Reformation thoughts

Hi Don,

Well, I've plowed through Chapters 4 and 5 of The Reformation without posting. I am continually impressed with the amount of information MacCulloch is holding together. Some of this information is more familiar than others; Calvin's history in Switzerland vs. the Reformation in Poland and Moldavia.

I am struck by the rapid diffusion and diffraction (if that's the right word) of Reformation ideas. From groups who want to remain Catholic but institute reform, to the Lutheran set, to the ideas that coalesced around Calvin and his cohort, to quite radical ideas which included pacifism and unitarianism. The flow of ideas couldn't be stopped.

The intricacies of theology interacting with political forces cannot be underestimated. Would reconciliation have happened with different personalities and political currents?

So much detail; not even quite sure what else I can summarize or pontificate on, so on to Chapter 6 for me!


not a surprise

via Cathy

You are Julian of Norwich! It's all about God, to
you. You're convinced that the world has a
happy ending. Everyone else is convinced that
you're a closet hippie, but you love them

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


by the images on the television--I've on been to New Orleans once, but it was a memorable choir tour (even if I was underage). I did manage to reach via email a friend from seminary--she's safe in another city, but it may be a long time before she can get home.

How long, O Lord, until New Orleans is even habitable again?

The word apocalyptic does keep coming to mind, a catastrophic event laying bare all that is under the surface, human pride and sin, also human resilience in the face of disaster, and above all the need for a God who comes to us both as Lord of the wind and rain but also as the Suffering Servant who is with us.

We Americans should watch and ponder how swiftly our complex civilization can be reduced to nothing. How many of us would have the skills and resources to survive? What kind of impact will this have on our everyday lives, those of us who live far away?

Random thoughts. I haven't been able to concentrate on my book. Sorry, Don. I will post some thoughts on it tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2005

too poor to leave

I've been thinking many of the same thoughts as were expressed over at Topmost Apple as I've been watching the footage of those who took refuge in the Superdome in New Orleans. I've become aware of my own privileged myopia, as it had not occurred to me that there were people who stayed through hurricanes because they could not afford the means to leave.

For such a rich country, we have far, far too many people falling through the cracks. How many, many ways do we penalize those who have less?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

like sheep without a shepherd


After complaining that it might take us to Chapter 10 of MacCulloch's Reformation to get us to Luther, I was pleasantly surprised to reach the middle of Chapter 3 and discover Martin himself. MacCulloch's speed has slowed considerably and we're now into territory familiar from coursework, so I'm feeling less of a spinning head, and able to make progress faster. I do appreciate the fact that he has a wider scope than the other histories I've read (for instance, I'm currently in Ch. 4, and he is discussing Reformation issues in Poland and Lithuania, all new to me).

I've been thinking about how fast the spread of evangelical ideas spread beyond Luther's control, and were shaped by forces that had very little to do with theology, and everything to do with the need for power or control by monarchs, clergy, merchants, city councils. . .

What an exciting and yet frightening time it must have been. No wonder there was so much talk of the Second Coming and the Last Days. People were suddenly willing to question many things that had been assumed.

I think some of Americans' current discussion of a Christian nation comes out of this Protestant history, and the idea that a leader's religion was the religion of the country, and the idea of Covenant (was that Zwingli? I'll have to go back and check) between God and country. I was also interested to see that the idea of Utopia takes root in this period as well, again, another influential thought in the U.S.

Must get to sermon. Oh, and husband's installation as Rector is 9/15. More importantly, from my perspective, my in-laws will be here. So progress must continue on the organization of apartment.

It must be interesting to think of your visits to Durham and Lindisfarne in light of what we are reading now.


random Saturday morning thoughts

you must, must stop by Haligweorc and read his clergy position advertisement. Too bitterly funny. You have to keep laughing if you want to survive the institutional church. (Also, I'm adding said blog to my sidebar, should have done it a long time ago, but there you have it).

I've missed posting this announcement but you will all hear more about it as time progesses. I've been invited back as chaplain for next year's Royal School of Church Music course in Tulsa (for boys, teen boys and adults) and, even more importantly for the musicians among us, the well-known Gerre Hancock is going to be the Director of Music. July 11-16, 2006. I've marked my calendar.

I've clearly done some sort of painful something to my hand/wrist/arm. I may even have to (groan) test our HMO (double groan) and visit the doctor, although the regimen of 3 Advil/3 x a day has helped considerably. And today's projects will include buying a nice wireless keyboard with wrist rest. And I'm laying off the knitting for awhile.

But mostly today will include farmer's market, hibernating with air conditioning, and keeping the plants alive on the patio.

Prayers for all those in the path of Katrina.

Friday, August 26, 2005

hot snoozy weather

and sore arm--not much for blogging. Did actually get to the actual beginning of the Reformation today. Will post more tomorrow.


You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!
Could You Pass the US Citizenship Test?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Erasmus would have kept a blog

Hi Don,

Finished chapter two (of The Reformation today. After the breakneck ride through the late medieval period in chapter one, it was a relief to (relatively) slow down and spend more leisurely time with humanists of various stripes.

What has struck me, over and over as I read this, is that we as a church don't really understand where we come from, not Episcopalians or Protestants more broadly. And who can blame us? If any of this was touched on in school, we got the standard "corrupt church--Gutenberg and printing press--Martin Luther" line.

We're reading an 800 page book which summarizes a very complex historical period. Even with a seminary education that included two classes which spent some time with the main figures and doctrines of this period, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of material in this book (and I feel a need to dig out my index cards I used to get through the quizzes in our Reformation class). Then you figure this material has to get condensed to some degree for a seminary class. Then the seminarians go out into the world, and if they're lucky, every now and then they get to spend 3 45 minute sessions on the Reformation on an Adult Forum schedule somewhere.

When I taught Church History in a deacon formation program, I always used to begin with discussing why we need to know our history. We would always discuss the idea that, as an incarnational faith, we believed that God intervened in history. How one can make sense of where God might have been acting in the swirling mess of what we're reading is currently beyond me.

The next chapter seems to focus on Augustine as a doctrinal linchpin of the Reformation. Can't wait till we actually get to Martin Luther (perhaps by Chapter 10?)

Read on!


how I learned to conduct a wedding. . .or not

Kathryn has just posted about the anxiety of doing a first wedding and rehearsing for the rehearsal. . .Her story reminded me of my journey to wedding rehearsal competence.

In seminary, the highlight of one's senior year, if one opted to take Playchurch (can't remember the actual name of the course) was the wedding. You got to announce the banns in chapel, and it was always some completely inappropriate couple who had signed up to be the "bride" and "groom." People who were engaged or married to others, etc.

I volunteered to be the presider, and my former suitemate agreed to be my bride. She was married to someone else, as was the groom. I announced the banns at Dean's Mass, to the usual guffaws and objections. As we were discussing it, she reminded me that she had a daughter involved in theater in college, and I should be prepared accordingly.

I turned up, vested in chasuble, prayer book appropriately marked, and awaited the arrival of the happy couple. Much to my surprise, my postmenopausal friend had turned up pregnant, had acquired a hat with a daisy in it and enlisted our professor as the matron of honor to wear it. The groom had written "help me" on the soles of his shoes.

The only way I could stop laughing was to not look at them the rest of the service. I wasn't very successful.

Thankfully, when it was time for my first rehearsal rehearsal, I begged assistance from the Lutheran pastor we shared space with. Needless to say, he was much more helpful.

Thanks, Kathryn, for the memory!

I hated true/false questions in school

But that won't keep me from posting this, via DawgDays:

Five are true, five are false. You get to choose!

1. I broke my ankle in eighth grade.

2. I failed driver's ed in high school.

3. I had one line in a high school production of "Oklahoma."

4. I have hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.

5. I have a book signed by one of the Doctors Who.

6. My life was threatened on a trip in Utah.

7. My husband and I dated in seminary.

8. I gave the invocation at my graduation in college.

9. I own every Star Trek book ever published.

10. I had a cat named Aslan as a child.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Finished chapter one


I also finished chapter one (for newbies, we are reading MacCulloch's The Reformation , as a break from homework and reorganizing genealogy materialis from the move. The genealogical materials are not unrelated to your post on Chapter One and the time MacCulloch spends discussing the continual persecution of Jews in Europe; essentially, one set of my ancestors could theoretically have persecuted the other set. One side of my family was Jewish until the 40s, and was forced to flee Europe during after the Anschluss of Austria, and a greatgrandparent perished in the camp at Theresienstadt. So I can't read any of these incidents without an emotional reaction. Because of the turmoil in Europe, I can only trace my ancestors on those lines back only so far.

I too was very interested in the discussion of the various orders and how they related (or more often, didn't relate) to each other. But I was also fascinated with his discussion of the lay gilds (sometimes called confraternities). These often disappeared in Protestant countries. His point--don't always believe that the Reformation was about power to the laity. It was often about groups of clergy trying to gain power and prestige over the other.

The major point the first chapter made me think of was "the more things change. . ." This book has driven home that trends and fads have been around Christianity since the beginning, some appealing to the popular imagination more than others (shrines, practices, types of prayer). It also occured to me that so much of what we think of as "tradition" was somebody's "innovation" somewhere down the line. I come away from his discussion of late medievalism thinking that the church has always been linked, for better or worse, with a certain consumer mentality. It might especially be flourishing in our country now, but it's not unique. Also, that the Reformation was as much, if not more, about temporal power struggles as about theology (again, I think this has contemporary parallels).

Can you believe how much information is packed into each paragraph? I had to laugh at the idea of a two paragraph summation of Aquinas' theology. . .

On to Chapter Two (and moving more boxes. . .)


Please feel free to join the discussion, even if you don't feel like dipping into an 800 page book!

This makes me happy

I don't even know if I want to admit to the story of this dining room table. Husband and I purchased it a couple of years ago from a well-known trendy furniture emporium (which doesn't need free advertising from me) but were too dumb to have it delivered and set up. We didn't know how heavy it was! So we put it away in our "denial room." As it became clearer that we were leaving St. Louis, it seemed obvious to leave it in pieces for the move.

My task for the past few weeks has been clearing our dining room here (lest it become another "denial room") in order to finally have a real table. A parishioner from husband's church came over and after realizing we didn't have the bolts or the instructions (lost in the move), the men went to Home Depot, returned triumphant, and actually very easily put it together.

With the amount of books we have and the space available it's more of a library than a dining room, but anyone who knows us would expect no less.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Opening the Book

Dear Don,

I picked up the book we are reading together (see previous post), The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch. I took it with me to the aforementioned Java Dave's to read with the aforementioned decaf Snickerdoodle.

Were you, like me, amazed at the amount of information this man can pack into a sentence? And how much one could learn in the pages of the Introduction?

Even that slippery term "Anglican" appears to have been first spoken with disapproval by King James VI of Scotland, when in 1598 he was trying to convince the Church of Scotland how unenthusiastic he was for the Church of England p. xx
(comment withheld)

MacCulloch narrows his project (hah!)to include only that portion of Christianity we think of as including the Latin West. (It's still a book of 708 pages in paperback, not including notes, appendices, etc.)

Here's another apropos quote:

. . .this western society, previously unified by the Pope's symbolic leadership and by possession of that common Latin culture, was torn apart by deep disagreements about how human beings should exercise the power fo God in the world, arguments even about what it was to be human. p. xxi

If it keeps going like this, I expect it to give us some insight into the controversies of our own day.

The most important moment of the Introduction for me, was this: The Reformation conflicts stifled diversity. Rome closed down options. . .Protestants too were anxious to weed our rival versions of Protestantism. . . p. xxi

Is our heritage from the Reformation a narrowing of Christianity? Perhaps that above all is what we are fighting about now. If we, as Americans, are the inheritors of the great utopian Protestant experiment, we should ask some questions about how narrowly we want to define our faith practices, and where that instinct to narrow comes from. It may not be of the Gospel.

Not all of MacCulloch's themes are surprising; he is synthesizing material we were starting to read when I was in seminary. But I think he points to ideas we Reformation children hold without examining too closely, and I expect to have some presumptions overturned before we're through.

Hope you're enjoying your reading.


Monday, August 22, 2005

a little light reading

Hands in Dirt has a nice post on the project he and I are embarking on, beginning tomorrow, namely a very big book on the Reformation. (I'll give exact specs tomorrow here). He lays out a very thorough groundwork on why he is picking it up. I'm not so sure I have such a well-reasoned idea for it, except that learning about the Reformation was one of my favorite subjects in seminary. That was reinforced by daily interaction with Lutherans at my first congregation (we shared a building).

One of the books that we were assigned in seminary and that I have dipped into along the way is Albion's Seed. It traces the cultural habits in various parts of England and how immigration patterns of these particular habits to the colonies have shaped our regional histories. I'm curious to see what new insights about our lifeways will come from this new reading of the Reformation. My personal feelings about the U.S. is that we are the end result of the theologies of the Reformation, taking root in new soil. We'll see.

As noted by Don, it will be interesting to see if our various life experiences shape our readings of it.

More to come!

new button

Part of the Episcopal Church's new ad campaign, spotted at Topmost Apple:

Come and Grow

By the shores of Lake Texoma

When we moved to OKC, I found out one of my very best friends from the U of A graduate school experience was living a mere three hours or so directly south into Texas. So this weekend I took advantage of a gap in my supplying schedule and took a road trip to visit her. Yes, I spent a weekend away with a friend like normal people do!

We spent Saturday driving around Grayson County, which borders Lake Texoma, which itself was created by damming the Red River. The Red River separates Oklahoma from Texas, hence the name of the lake (highly original).

My friend JR and I crashed visited the exclusive Tanglewood Resort and its tower so I could get this photo.

Being in heat advisory range, we stuck to auto touring and took a quick trip through the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. The story of Hagerman is on this Texas historical marker (of which there were plenty in that county--it has a rich and wild history, including the time when the county courthouse in Sherman was burned to the ground by a lynch mob intent on murdering the African American man locked in one of the vaults and mysteriously left alone). Its proximity to Oklahoma was fertile ground for outlaws.

But this is still oil country. It might have been a bird refuge, but that doesn't get in the way of Texas' main industry.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I have crossed the Red River

which, for my non-Oklahoman readers, means I set foot in the country state of Texas for a weekend with a friend from graduate school.

I have returned safely and will blog more with photos later.

Did you know there was such a place as Tom Bean, Texas? With a street named Joe Bob Lane? And that when you cross the Red River and enter Texas, your first sight is an adult video establishment with the cheerful greeting "Welcome to Texxxas?"

Unfortunately, as I opted for safety, I do not have photos of these and other standout Texas/Oklahoma signage from my trip.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

So I got on a bicycle this week for the first time in (mumble mumble) years.

There's nothing like feeling klutzy to start with and then road testing a bicycle in front of your husband AND a bicycle shop employee while dodging cars in the parking lot.

Husband's helpful comment: "it's just like riding a bike, honey. . ."

Thanks, dear.

I need a name for the bike. My last bike's name was Floyd (it was pink). The colors on this one haven't lent themselves well to any new names. I'm open to ideas.

If you see me huffing and puffing around the Lake Hefner trails, give me some room, ok? Thanks.

And I think we'll leave socknitting while riding a bicycle to some other Extreme Knitter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Seeing and Stitching

I took a knitting class today, to learn how to make a felted purse. The class had homework to do beforehand (gotta love the idea of knitting homework) so that we could learn to pick up stitches around what will be the base of the bag, to build up the sides before we toss it in the washing machine to shrink and felt it.

I have until now avoided knitting with very dark yarns, especially black, because it's harder to see what you're doing, especially when you're a new knitter. But because I was taking the class, I figured I would have help to find what I needed to find. And, needless to say, it's helpful to have some black accessories around.

As I was sitting there with my work, I did start to think about the idea of seeing what you are knitting. When I first did yarnwork, in my early crocheting days, I really had no idea what I was looking at. It wasn't until I picked it up again last spring that I found my eyes were more capable of seeing the stitches (a consequence of finally wearing glasses? or maturity? or of having my eyes opened in various metaphorical senses?)

When I started to knit last summer, one of the scariest things was not being able to see and understand the stitches. My first knitting swatch took over an hour, and is about four rows long. I can still feel the sweat and stiffness from hanging onto it so tightly, afraid of what might happen if I made a mistake. I ripped out a lot of my early pieces (and used a lot of craft store yarn) because I was so afraid of getting somewhere I wouldn't be able to get myself out of again.

I learned some new things today, and I'll probably always find it difficult to make new maneuvers with black yarn around the needles, but today I could see, literally, how far I had come.

Nice to have those moments every once in awhile. Metaphorically and otherwise.

bits and pieces

Like Topmost Apple, I've also been feeling a little light on blogging topics. I'm still in the middle of the faith story, and I will keep going, but I've gotten to the parts that were prominent "in the file" for ordination, and I really want to think about how my faith has developed, not just How I Got To Seminary and Got Ordained Despite a Diocesan Moratorium and Opposition From Family.

Saddened, like so many others, at the death of Brother Roger of Taize (reported in many quarters, I saw it first at AKMA's place. I wonder how many thousands of people he had a significant impact on in his lifetime? Taize has certainly become an instrumental part of my faith life, and it was very important to me to use the Taize "Veni, Sancte Spiritus" when I was ordained to the priesthood. His death may only merit a few blurbs here and there on the news, but his life impacted many, and the media will never catch on.

Look what came in the mail!

Thanks, Teri, (where you can earn your own button for entering her contest)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

a Weasley and a Vulcan?


Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Monday, August 15, 2005

rainy Sundays and coffee hour questions

Has rained steadily here in the central part of the state over the last few days. I stopped here on my way home from Guthrie on Sunday. This is one of my favorite places, Mineral Wells Park. We stopped by this park on our second visit to Oklahoma, when we were apartment hunting back in April, and I remember thinking about how red the water was and what a change that was going to be.

Homily with the central focus of the Canaanite woman went well and received much positive feedback, but I seem to be in extemporaneous preaching mode at the moment so nothing to publish. It strikes me how hungry people are for good information about Scripture, that both takes it seriously and yet not literally.

One listener challenged me after the service by asking why Jesus criticized the disciples' little faith in last Sunday's Gospel and praised the Canaanite woman's great faith when we only needed to have faith the size of a mustard seed. I'm curious what some of you might have answered her in return.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

resistance (to quizzes) is truly futile

You are VULCAN: You are controlled and logical. You
don't show your emotions and are rigorously
traditional. Though some find you irritating,
you form close bonds with a select few.

Which Star Trek race are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


In-vested Sock Knitting

I can't top the
Yarn Harlot's entry, but surely working on a sock while vested in chasuble, stole, alb, clergy collar and microphone should get me points somewhere in the world of Extreme Knitting. (Perhaps I should have borrowed a maniple and a biretta as well).

 Posted by Picasa


via Bending the Rule:

My Music Personality

Interesting test. But the truth is I like music, period, and my collection reflects that. Mainly I go through phases.

It just occurs to me that, as with books, the music I most strongly listen to often has an emotional connection for me. I scored religious music high, not because I run around listening to (ahem) Christian stations, but because the hymns of our church mean something to me. I'm currently listening to all of my English choral music CDs in the car because of the connection to the Royal School experience. I don't collect a lot of alternative music, but I love every piece of music they ever used on "Buffy." I don't have much use for contemporary pop, but I love 80s music because it's the music of my formative years.

I'm not sure the quiz took the whole emotional connection into account.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

faith story part VIII--the yoke is easy

When I was 25, my mother was diagnosed with a serious illness. And I couldn't keep it together anymore. I wasn't getting anywhere professionally (not "living up to my potential"), felt something missing. It was almost weekly that people would ask me, "when are you going to seminary," or some version thereof, and my answer had changed from "I don't want to" to "my parents would never forgive me" but still, I didn't get it.

My mom's illness pushed all of what I was carefully hiding from myself and others into the foreground. I finally entered therapy and discovered things about me that I already knew, deep inside, but just couldn't admit, how my parents and I were in what could best be described as "enmeshed" or "fused" where the boundaries had gotten mixed up and we were too far apart by being too close together (no wonder I had moved to Arizona!)

And then one Sunday, I was standing at the altar as a subdeacon, turning pages for the rector as he presided at Eucharist, and I had this sudden desire, deep and strong, to slide him out of the way and do it myself. Freaked out wouldn't even begin to describe how I felt, so I did what I knew how to do best--ignore it.

Which lasted a few weeks, until I was on a trip with the Episcopal Campus Ministry, and I was holding the book for the chaplain while he celebrated Eucharist on the beach at Lake Powell, and I had the same feeling all over again. Different setting, different priest, same desire.

I was not happy about this development. Because I knew what the risks were. I was an only child who was feeling called to the one thing her parents hoped she would never, ever, even consider.

When Deacon Suzanne (yet another deacon!)stopped me in the hallway at church the next week, and asked for the bazillionth time if I was interested in joining her ordination discernment group, I said "yes." And it was the easiest thing in the world to do.

and other random notes

Thanks to Bending the Rule for adding me to his sidebar, and I will return the favor. I enjoy reading his blog but can't always find the words to post what feels like an adequate response. (Maybe it's a Myers-Briggs thing).

I've also tried to keep track of all the RevGalBlogPals that I read and post them in the sidebar, but there are so many wonderful blogs I've been exposed to in the ring, bear with me while I try to catch up this week.

faith story, part VII--was blind but now. . .

Education for Ministry (EFM) should hire me as their poster child.

Because it was an EFM course that I believe truly changed my faith life forever.

The little congregation I was attending, and which was turning out to be a real lifesaver as I was truly struggling emotionally and personally through graduate school, suddenly, in my 3rd year of my master's program, decided to merge with a program size congregation eight blocks away. In the midst of everything else, it seemed overwhelming to me that this place that felt like home was being taken away.

When the rector told us one Thursday that it was our last Thursday evening Eucharist in our old space (we were moving to the new congregation on Palm Sunday), I had to leave the service and go outside and cry. When I got the times mixed up for the service of deconsecration, I sat in my car in the parking lot (my first car, the car the rector had helped me buy)and cried some more.

But the merger was the best thing that could have happened. Five of us decided to start a youth group. And one of the gaggle (flock? what is the word for a large group of deacons?) of deacons at the new congregation ran an EFM course, which I had been interested in for a long time.

I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but sometime after I started taking EFM, I was in church one Sunday morning, vested as a subdeacon, sitting next to the rector in the "Little Bear's Chair," as we called it, and listening to the lector read some passage or other from Ezekiel. And very quietly, I became aware that something had changed. I got it. I suddenly understood what was going on in the passage at a new level, how it made sense to me. And I also had the sense of a filter being lifted off of my eyes, that I could see things more vividly, colors more strongly.

It took me years to recognize that as a significant turning point. I didn't run around at the time and tell people I had just had a conversion experience or "I was blind but now I see." But it came just at the right time, because I couldn't keep the juggling act going any longer in my life. Some part of me knew that what I was pursuing professionally wasn't good for me, wasn't truly me. People were bugging me all the time to join the ordination discernment group we had going at the church (there was a gaggle of seminarians and seminary hopefuls as well). Our youth group leadership had changed but I found that I had the commitment to keep going and that I was loving leading a community. My rector had complimented me on my ability to lead Evening Prayer and being a subdeacon was great fun (once I got over an initial anxiety attack of standing behind the altar in front of everybody). Everybody saw it but me.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Emily is. . ."

via Wide-Eyed and Laughingand Things of Infinite Importance

Go to google. Type "(your name) is" and paste your favorite 10 responses. (I've added appropriate commentary).

With the recent appearance of Hurricane Emily, there was a bounty to choose from.

1. "Emily is every professional who's been told to wait her turn."

2. "Angry Emily is storming in." (Because she's mad about #1, right?)

3. "Emily is headed right towards me." (And she's really angry, so watch out!)

4. "Emily is super duper sweet." (Apparently also passive-aggresive).

5. "Emily is dressed in black bombazine." (That should pull in the search results for "black bombazine.")

6. "Emily is stunned when Paddy asks to move in." (Well, who's Paddy?)

7. "Emily is growing more powerful."

8. "Emily is shy about her old-fashioned beliefs."

9. "Emily is strange."

10. "Emily is a flower girl." (An angry, moody, weird flower girl in black bombazine.)

notes on the garden summer 2005

What I would plant again next summer if we're still in the same location, in no particular order:

Tomatoes. This time I would make sure they were in the biggest tubs possible to start. The grape tomatoes have been the most successful, of course they have the least payoff (a treat here and there). My Lemon Boys have produced two fruits, I'm not sure what's going on with the other blooms. We'll see how the Patio does here in the next few weeks.

Peppers. Easy peasy. Yes.

Squash. Again, I would start with a bigger tub. And I would get the hang of this fertilization thing earlier.

Basil. Yes. Harvest it earlier before it dies back.

Dill. Yes, see above.

Chives. Who knew the cats would bypass the catnip and go for the chives?

Purple fountain grass. Ditto. They love the fountain grass, even though we sometimes revisit it on our no longer pristine cream colored carpet.

Copperleafed begonias. I even did my best to kill some of them and they're flourishing and happy.

Coleus. A keeper. I will buy more of these next year.

Sweet potato vine. The purple faded quickly and the pink/green variety doesn't look that good, either. I'll stick with the plain old chartreuse variety.

Zinnia. There were four plants. Two died, two are going strong.

Lantana, verbena, had their rough spots but they are thriving in the heat.

I think I wouldn't buy another banana palm, too finicky in the dry heat.

After scorching the yucca, I now think it's going to make it.

Also keepers: rosemary, lavender, citrosa, geranium.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

eating ourselves to death

Kinesis shares some statistics about wealth and poverty she is gleaning during her South African journey.

I can't help but compare those statistics to the experience I had with a muffin at Albertson's on Saturday. Looking for something that might appeal for an early breakfast before long supply drive, I browsed the muffin section. Thankfully, I checked the calorie count on the almond poppyseed muffin 4 pack before putting it in my basket.

Servings: 4. Calories per serving: 560.

(It wasn't just the almonds and the poppyseeds--the chocolate muffin was 540 calories.)

Why are we stuffing ourselves to death while others starve?

faith story, part VI--now where did I read something about going into the desert?

Note to self: if running from one's own issues, don't move to the desert.

There's a reason all of those people in our Christian tradition found wisdom in the desert, although I'm not sure if it's the heat, the landscape, or the heat.

I might have arrived in Arizona with the burning desire to change the world through museum education, but it seems even I was in denial about what was perfectly obvious to everybody else.

(When, five years into my stay there, I finally joined an ordination discernment group, the collective response was "it's about time.")

However, I had done a pretty good job of convincing myself otherwise. I knew what kind of rupture that would provoke in my family. And thankfully it would never be an issue, right? Right, God? I even told God that I would do anything else, go be a missionary in a place without indoor plumbing, rather than be a priest. Ask me to do anything else.

It's so hard to encapsulate those eight years in Tucson in just a few posts. There were good friends. Good food. Hikes in the desert. Sangria in a summertime backyard under the stars. Cats adopted us. There were boyfriends, with the predictable good moments and bad. There was school. And there was church.

I found a church within bicycling distance (I learned to drive a few years later). On the first Sunday, the Rector announced that a reporter from the local paper had asked him what his reaction to "The Last Temptation of Christ" was. The Rector responded he didn't have a reaction because he hadn't seen it yet. He quoted the reporter as saying that was ok, because many people were giving him a reaction without having seen it yet. So the Rector organized a group to go see it after the Thursday evening contemplative service.

This was the church for me.

(Thereby also ensued a hilarious scene at the multiplex, when the security guards hired because of all the fuss, became very, very nervous at the sight of a large group forming around a man in a collar. They even kept checking up on us in the theater. Silly them. We weren't offended, but we weren't very impressed with the movie, either).

And for the first time, thanks to that contemplative service, which included silent prayer, reading and discussion during the homily, I started grasping for what I had been starving for. Real spiritual food.

Be careful what you wish for.

Socks need bible study, too

Sock goes to lectionary study at Java Dave's--Java Dave's has my heart because they have a flavored decaf called Snickerdoodle. (I can't drink caff and sleep. I like sleep. My husband likes me better when I sleep. I like me better when I sleep. The cats don't care.) Posted by Picasa

The sock had some interesting insights into Matthew's Gospel, Matthew's community of readers, the relationship with Q and the relevance of the Jesus seminar, but the sock will just have to get its own blog for all of that.

Monday, August 08, 2005

faith story part V--V is for Vocation

When I was in fourth grade I read a book that would change my life.

It was called "Koster" and it was written by Northwestern anthropology professor Stuart Struever. It described the work and interpretation of a major archaeological excavation at the Koster farm in southwestern Illinois, near the town of Kampsville on the Illinois River.

First, I think this book helped cement my love affair with the landscape of my home state. Second, I wanted someday to ride the Kampsville Ferry over the Illinois River, as described in the book. Third, I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist.(Later appearances by Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones had nothing to do with this decision).

This lasted, on and off, until I had a couple of summers actually doing archaeology.

I loved the academic parts of it but I just wasn't cut out for field work. My family wasn't exactly a DIY kind of family, so I had no skills with tools. None.

(There were many adventures, however, on those summers, most of which I will have to write about at a later time under an assumed name.)

Finally I became convinced that what I was called to do (and I felt this was a genuine calling, as genuine as ordination) was to become a museum educator. Then I could take all the things I had learned about other cultures, communicate them, and help break down stereotypes and misconceptions.

So post-graduation destination: the University of Arizona, with a renowned anthropology department and museum studies program. I was also looking forward to a renewed commitment to church; I had dropped in and out as an undergraduate. It had been a rough transition to a new church home. Some things came easily--any opposition I had to women clergy dissipated when it seemed the most natural thing in the world. But it had taken me a long time to feel at home, and still, I wanted more. I wanted to be involed in liturgy and leadership. And as always, I wanted to feel my faith. It seemed somedays like it was all in my head.

Sock Goes Supplying

I have no sermon to post here, not because I didn't preach, but because again I preached extemporaneously, and unlike last Sunday, I don't have as clear a memory of what I said. It felt good, but it's sort of unreplicable (is that a word?)

Meanwhile, I decided that if the Yarn Harlotcould take photos of her sock on tour to all the lovely places she's going on her book tour, the least I could do was take my sock on my supply ventures. I started this sock at the class I took on Saturday at Gourmet Yarn. Here is the sock in its first stages

and here we are at Emmanuel, Shawnee. A better person would have walked around to the front of the church to get a better photo, however, in heels, "clericool" collar and black rabat I am NOT a better person when it's over 90 degrees.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Houdini, the Amazing Weather Kitty

We adopted Hootie (short for Houdini) from his previous owners right after we came back from our honeymoon, in January of 2002, along with Wilbur (seen in previous photos).

Hootie is the dominant kitty; he claims the most food, the best spots on the bed, the primo lounging spaces in the living room. Wilbur, who is smaller (although fluffier and faster) responds with what seems to us to be great passive aggressive behavior. When Hootie is not in the room, Wilbur is the king of the mountain, um, the cat tree.

But all of Houdini's fierceness falls away during a thunderstorm. Who needs Gary England (a locally famous OKC weathercaster) when you have the Hootie? At the slightest uptick in wind noise, or roll of thunder, Houdini heads for the closest interior room with no windows. When we lived in STL on the 12th floor, with every room having at least one window, he nudged his way into the hall closet. Here I found him today in our downstairs bathroom (all interior walls--no windows). He is the poster child for tornado drills.

Wilbur enjoys thunderstorms, despite being a textbook scaredycat the rest of the time. Life, if you're a Wilbur, is improved by brief Hootie-free periods.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Friday night sunset with storm over Lake Hefner Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005

Faith Story, part iv--Orange Chairs and the Holy Spirit

Do we really want to talk about high school? I don't. As an earlier generation of authors would say, gentle reader, let's draw a veil over that period, shall we?

Thankfully I did have some best friends, one of whom happened to be a fellow Episcopalian. By now we had moved to the suburbs, but we still went to church in the city. But my friend started taking me to youth group. What a revelation! People talked about their faith We played games and sat on the floor of people's houses. The curate wore jeans. Such a different experience entirely on Wednesday evenings from what was going on in my Sunday life.

Many times in my life I've found myself straddling two cultures. That was certainly one of those times.

It never occurred to me to stop going to church with my parents. I didn't have that much of an outward rebellious nature (I preferred passive aggressive stuff). And I did have a commitment to that Sunday School. And I was loved. Even if, by now, I was realizing it was odd.

One of the reasons I absolutely believe that there is something objectively happening in Holy Communion besides our intent is that I was formed by that experience of worship. In so many ways, my childhood experience of faith failed so many tests, and yet I know I was formed. I kept wanting something MORE.

It was during those years I had my first experience of the Holy Spirit guiding me. Those were not words I used then, nor did I figure it out until much later (probably while working on some version of THE STORY).

Of all things, it happened to me in the grungy tunnel that connects the underground Undergrad Libary at the University of Illinois with the Main Library. (Why is it underground? You can't throw shade on the corn, of course. No, really). I had visited three colleges in upstate New York because I thought that's where people went to college, right? They were all very nice, but it just didn't feel right.
A friend invited me down to the U of I to take the tour, and there, in the tunnel by the old laminate orange chairs and the vending machines, I knew I was supposed to go to school there.

That was my first instance of trusting the Spirit. And it has also formed my theology of inspirational moments. You can trust them more in a crappy setting. Anyone can feel inspired watching a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It may even make you want to move to Hawaii/California/Oregon. But when you have the feeling of rightness in the midst of modern institutional architecture, you have a slightly better shot at hearing the Spirit then in just being moved by aesthetics.

we interrupt this faith story

to report that I've eaten my very first, warm out of my own garden, lemon yellow tomato in a tomato sandwich.

And that I've signed up for a socks class at a local yarn store.

And that I might have stocked up on the sadly discontinued Cotton-Ease at Hancock Fabrics (on sale) as a reward for accomplishing a couple of tasks which I dread doing.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Faith Story, Part III--rites of passage

Confirmation came and went,with no spiritual lightning bolt. The bishop laid hands on me, slapped me (well, more of a tap), and I ripped the sleeve of my pretty new dress at the party afterwards.

A week or so later, the rector approached me at church. Now that you're an adult (me, at sixth grade?) you can't go to Sunday School anymore. You have to be a grownup in the church. You can sit in church with your dad, sing in your mom's choir, or teach Sunday School.

Option #1 was right out. I was old enough that spending any more time with my parents than absolutely necessary was simply unthinkable.

I explored option #2 for a few weeks. However, to sum up the family relationship in a nutshell, Friedman of systems theory would say we were "fused." Too far away from each other by being too close. I literally had panic attacks while being under my mom's choral direction and almost fainted a couple of times (although at the time I couldn't have told you the reason).

That left option #3, which actually seemed pretty good. I got to hang out with the Sunday School. They gave me two kids who were a few years younger than me and no instructions, and that was that. No one ever supervised me. No one asked me what kind of curriculum I was leading. No one hardly ever checked in on us. Which is why we mostly chatted. But I did find a set of cards that taught how to look up biblical references, and did try to teach some stories. Around Easter we made baskets for the younger kids and the rector. At Christmas we were the mainstays of the pageant (I am proud to say I have played almost every role possible in a Christmas pageant, with the exception of the angel Gabriel. Yes, this means I have played Joseph. Don't ask.) I took the girls on a tour of the nave and chancel one day (hmm, maybe I did try harder than I remember) and the rector told us not to laugh in church. (Well, I hope that's not really a sin because I'm in real big trouble if it is).

As Joe noted in an earlier comment, there are a number of themes of ambivalence turning up here, which he shares. I suspect many Gen Xrs share ambivalence as a major life theme, perhaps that's another post. I find it again, reflecting on this time. The church was becoming more and more about its opposition to change in the wider church. I wasn't feeling much of anything spiritual, which no one seemed to notice or care about. I was completely left on my own to wrestle with my growing up and my sudden change in role. Exorbitant displays of feeling were squashed. Preaching was erudite, Anglo-Catholic, employing the 3 point method, and completely incomprehensible to me. Summers without Sunday School, when I was stuck in the pew, seemed endless. And can you imagine anyone letting a sixth grader alone with children unsupervised for such a long time in the church today?

And yet credit must be given that this rector acknowledged that a rite of passage had taken place, that in the eyes of the church I was an adult and needed to take on that role. And at least he directed me towards some ministries (notice, of course, what was strikingly absent).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Faith Story, part II

I grew up in a parish that restricted communion to those who were confirmed, a not uncommon practice in those days. There weren't that many of us who were under 20 running around (I didn't realize that we were a small church until later, but that's for later in the story). I was in 6th grade and the rector deemed it appropriate for another boy and me to take confirmation classes.

Here's what I remember: we spent Saturday mornings with the Rector in his large office with the big bay windows. There was a chalkboard with some illustrations on it. I vaguely remember something about the Trinity (probably a circle and a triangle) and some illustration involving a bridge. I remember that we took quizzes, at which I excelled. And I remember looking forward to being confirmed because of the white veil I was going to wear and because I was hoping to receive some sign that there was something out there, that there was a God.

We finished classes a few months ahead of the Bishop's annual visitation. The rector decided we could take communion early. Again, I was hoping for something, some feeling beyond the everyday. It was just a wafer. There were no bells (well, there were, but it was "smells and bells.")

And yet, I did have a powerful experience regarding confession. Our rector had us make our confession before being admitted to communion. He sent us home with a huge mimeographed document with lists of sins. On a Saturday morning my mom drove me to church and I went into the small hallway behind the organ. The priest was kneeling with his back to me. He never looked at me, but how many 11 year olds were in his congregation? It didn't feel very private. Oh, I dreaded it and shook through the whole experience (my poor priest--the most exciting thing I ever confessed to him during our relationship was "talked back to my parents.")

But afterwards I had this feeling of being clean and released. To this day I have an ambivalence towards confession. I strongly believe in it, but I have a hard time getting past that document with the list of sins. Now, looking back on it, I think it missed the point entirely. The great sin, I now belive, is not putting God first in one's life. All those lists about whether or not you had your horoscope done or played poker doesn't really help gain a greater understanding of one's place in creation. It's not that there weren't genuinely sinful and unethical things on that list (although frankly, not ones that your average sheltered 6th grader would have had much opportunity to participate in). But it was more like a list of misbehavior and flouting authority and didn't help me understand what sin was and what being separated from God was really about.

And yet, for all the ways organized religion was failing me, I was being formed in some significant ways in my faith. I carry those in my core. Holy Week at this congregation was full and rich. We had a deep sense of liturgical time, which was reinforced at home by my parents' practices of honoring Friday as meatless (Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent), my father bringing chocolate home on St. Nicholas' Day, etc.) On Good Friday we lined up at the altar and kissed the foot of the cross that the priest carried by us. And for a young girl who didn't fit in at school and whose nuclear family was so very, very small, church was a wonderful family, a place to talk to people and play and be loved and hugged.

But it was also a place of anger and silences. Many in the parish were angry with the changes in the church, and if they weren't, they didn't say anything. And I know now there were huge elephants in the living room, some of which I understand now through guesswork and hearsay, so I won't repeat here. And the biggest elephant of all was that we were dwindling, fewer and fewer at church.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

just for you,

YarnEnvy Beth, who often bemoans the lack of Koigu in St. Louis.

I saw, touched, and purchased 2 skeins of Koigu PPM(purely as a souvenir, of course) during a visit to scenic Norman, OK, home of OU and more importantly, Luff's yarn shop.

Faith Story, part 1

Does anyone remember that the last General Convention encouraged every Episcopalian to tell their faith story? (Does anyone remember that anything else happened at the last General Convention?)

I thought I would give it a try. Of course anyone who's in the ordination process gets used to "telling their story." In fact, I suspect I'm not the only one who got tired of it. No, not the STORY. Or, as my seminary roommate would say when asked the same question about THE STORY for the umpteenth time by a member of COM, "Read the file. READ THE FILE."

I digress.

It's been awhile, though, since I've told the story. So I thought I would give it a go and see if any new insights emerge.

Really my story isn't entirely my own, because I grew up in a particular context. I was born in the late sixties in Chicago (a North Sider, note, which makes me particularly disposed to cheering for underdogs and losing sports teams). My mother is a church organist; my father worked for a large federal government agency which shall remain nameless. My father is originally from Austria, but was forced to leave as a child in the late 30s because of his ethnic heritage. He spent the war years in England. Our family has been tilted to "Anglophile" ever since.

I was baptized in an Episcopal church in the north suburb of Evanston, but I remember nothing of my early childhood at that church. (There are two satisfying things relating to my baptism: I graduated from seminary in that same church, and I was ordained to the diaconate on the anniversary of my baptism). I don't remember church until I was in grade school. The church we were attending, now in the city itself, hired my mom as the organist.

I remember Bible stories and Sunday School. I remember carefully taking our offering down to the grown-ups' service, although I didn't understand where the money came from or where it was going. I loved the music, but since the kids missed most of the service, we only heard the same music week after week (which may explain my love/hate relationship with Healey Willan's setting for Rite I).

When I was in grown-up church I also remember being bored. Very, very bored. I made up long novels in my head. I looked around at everything but no one ever explained what was going on at the altar, and no chance of being an acolyte for a girl in this congregation. And I wondered what was going on in other people's heads. What were they experiencing that I seemed to be missing out on? I longed to know what that was. I would call it now a longing for the transcendent.

On a more immanent note, however, that church space was a home away from home. I would do my homework while mom practiced the organ. I knew every nook and cranny, and I knew every adult and felt loved by them. Being awkward and book-oriented, church was a safe place. My peers were a mystery but hanging out at church made a lot of sense.

As I grew older, the church became wrapped up in issues of the day. Much ranting happened at coffee hour over women's ordination and changing the prayer book, and later, changing the hymnal. As I grew older, that little parish seemed frozen in time. But of course I didn't understand that until I was much, much older.

(end of part one)

Monday, August 01, 2005

a little extemporaneous preaching

I've reconstructed this sermon from some extemporaneous preaching yesterday at Shawnee. It was a wonderful day. On Saturday they had held a picnic in the park for anyone who came by, and they had hot dogs left over (hence the miracle of the hot dogs). I found out about it before the service, and it made the whole day so easy to connect to the readings. I sat in on their Adult study between services and what we talked about in there also connected to the Gospel and my sermon. Sometimes the Spirit is moving through and all you can do is get on board.

I'm very clear on most of what I said yesterday, but obviously this is not an exact replica of what was said.

Again, Tom Long's commentary on Matthew for WJK Press provided the initial insight this week. I'm finding that a very helpful resource this summer.

Proper 13A
Emmanuel, Shawnee
July 31, 2005

Can you put yourself in the place of Jesus’ first disciples? Can you imagine being one of those discples—one minute you’re sitting on the shore of Lake Galilee, trying to get the smell of fish off your hands before dinner, and the next minute you’re following this man, who has both an amazing presence but also seems a little bit crazy, up and down the hills of Galilee, healing people with diseases and demons, and telling these weird stories about the kingdom of God—stories we’ve been hearing over the past few weeks, about seeds, and weeds and wheat and baking bread.

And today, after a long day of teaching the crowds, just when you think he might send them all away so you can get some one-on-one time with him, and you make what seems like a sensible suggestion that he send the crowds away to get dinner, he looks at you and says, “you give them something to eat.”

Somehow between you come up with five loaves and a couple of fish, but surely that can’t be enough. And yet he takes, blesses, breaks the bread, and five thousand—wait, that’s not counting the women and children, so easily ten thousand or more, are fed.
It’s the miracle of the loaves and fishes (or is that the miracle of the hot dogs and buns?)

The church has gotten hung up over the years on the question of how did this miracle happen? Did people suddenly realize they had food on them and start to share? Or did something supernatural happen? But when we get hung up on that question we miss the point.

I’ve been a priest for a few years and Episcopalian for all my life, now longer than I care to admit. And I’ve been on the road quite a while now, and it seems to me the church is a lot like those disciples. We’re overwhelmed by the needs we see in the world and we want Jesus to fix it. Send them away. We don’t have enough resources. And yet Jesus says to us, “you give them something to eat.”

A couple of dioceses ago, I was on the diocesan ECW Board. And every year the board would raise $800 or $1000 for a worthy cause. And our summer board meeting was coming up, and Heifer Project was our cause for the next year. And I would be in the shower in the morning (notice that God’s voice sometimes comes through in the shower?) and this little voice would say to me, “you could raise more money than that.” Now I’m telling this story now to point out how good I am, but because it took an awful lot of mornings with that voice before I started to pay attention to it. So I went to the board meeting and said, “why don’t we raise $5000 for a gift ark for Heifer Project?” A gift ark is two of everything Heifer Project offers, two sheep, two goats, a hive of bees, etc. And because families pass on the livestock when they reproduce, hundreds of families can be touched by this gift.

We raised over $10,000, enough for two arks, in eight months. I thought we would only raise enough for one. And we raised another $10,000, for yet another group, the next year.

Why should we be surprised? Why don’t we trust in our God more? In a few moments we will come to the table for a meal, fed by one body, blessed and broken for us, that has fed us for two thousand years, and more to come.

When we take what we think are our meager resources, and offer them to God, things will happen beyond our wildest imagination. What resources are you holding on to, what can you offer, can you trust in what God can do?