November 2008 Archives

The Daily Office

Here is an interesting blog entry from a retired Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Albany concerning the Daily Office. His perspective is Anglo-Catholic, and he is quite passionate about the need for and the benefits of the Daily Office.

E. Perren Hayes of the Faithful Skeptic: The Daily Office and Private Prayer

Advent vs. Christmas

Advent vs. Christmas

Old On-line Journal

I began journaling on-line, on my website, beginning in 2000 and before blogging began. Eight years worth of writing stuff via the Web, although inconsistently.

I was thinking the other day about what to write on this blog since I am really taking less of an interest in the whole Anglican mess (not that I consider it unimportant, but the dies have been cast and it will all play out, regardless of what I want or think). I have tried to be involved myself primarily to attempt to come up with a way to bridge the gap between two ideological positions that refuse to meet each other half-way.

True theological arguments, engaged by people interested in theology rather than ideological posturing and purity, will not result in schisms or splits or hatreds or the mess that we now find in the Anglican Communion and more particularly for me in The Episcopal Church, USA. When our accusations and actions stem from ideology and we attempt to use theology to buttress and defend our social or political ideology(ies), then what results is the mess we have in the Episcopal Church and within Anglicanism. Those who want to focus on ideology, at this point, will do so (and I'm not talking about only reactionary-conservative types). Nothing more to do. Those who want to focus on theology, well then, let the debates continue and let us act like real Anglicans as we gather around the communion table to receive together from our Lord in our collective ignorance and hoped for humility.

Besides, I have no particular part to play in all this, other than trying to conduct my life and ministry in ways that exemplify what I understand a follower of Christ to be. I'm not insightful, I'm not particularly intelligent, I'm not eloquent, and others do a far better job than I can. So, let them. All I can do is live my life, and hopefully be a positive influence for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and by God not be a hypocrite).

Back to my original purpose for this entry: I was reading through some of my on-line journal entries from years past (my mom just gave me some mint chocolate-chip ice-cream - the joys of being home for Thanksgiving!) and realized how "political" my own blog entries have become over the last few years. Entries became more like rants rather than attempts at thinking-out-loud as I wrestle with stuff, which is what I generally did in the past. I need to think-out-loud, and writing is a means of doing so that doesn't drive people crazy. "Blogging" is a lot different these days than on-line journaling years ago, but still.

So, what now. I've watched a lot of other bloggers quite, recently. I don't feel the need to stop, since, as I've written in the past, I do this not because I think other people have any interest in what I think but as a means for me to keep track of stuff and to think-out-loud.

What am I really wrestling with these days? Well, I continue to wrestle with the conflicts in the Communion because I think this whole mess is so terribly destructive. I continue to wrestle with the gay-Christian issues - socially and theologically. I continue to wrestle with discerning my next steps in life and ministry. I continue to wrestle with my purpose in life and how it all plays out. I continue to wrestle with how the Church should approach and deal with the unchurched, particularly those of younger generations - how do we do this, honestly, and not be blinded by our own particular desires for outcomes (pietistically, socially, modernist vs. post-modernist, etc.). I continue to struggle with personal discipline, or lack of discipline. I need a spiritual-director and/or confessor. I continue struggling with busyness to the point of drowning out the still-small-voice-of-God and peace. I continue to struggle with my place in the world. I continue to deal with issues of relationship, loneliness despite friendships and lots of people around. I continue to deal with wanting to be closer to my family. I continue to worry about certain people, and having to deal with personal issues. I think about the fact that I am not getting any younger and whether I will be able to see some of the things I want to accomplish come to fruition. I think about the balance between waiting and action, initiative and lethargy, humility and hubris, plotting my own way and being under authority.

Lots to write about, I suspect.

Kate Bush

There is not quite anyone like Kate Bush!

The first time I saw her was in 1979 as I watched "Saturday Night Live." She sang, "A Man with a Child In His Eyes" and "Them Heavy People." I was captivated at 17. I have all her albums (well, unless there are some brand new ones out over the last couple of years).

Seeing her for the first time was so great, primarily because it was in the time of Disco, and I hated disco. "Disco" she is not!

Nothing new under the sun

Life has been very busy these past couple of months. Work is ramped up even now leading up to next summer's General Convention. Perhaps that is the reason, or perhaps others, but I have been far less engaged in the Anglican Troubles over this time and frankly it is a relief. I have a bit more perspective, I think.

There are lay people, deacons, priest, and bishops who spend most of their waking hours obsessing over all this stuff as if this is a seminal moment in history. Another 1500's, perhaps. A fundamental sifting in world power, or at least world religious power. Who knows. Dividing up and determining who is going to Hell, literally or figuratively, has become their reason for being, all in the name of God.

All in the name of God. There is nothing new under the sun. This has all happened countless times, already. If we consider the arch of human history, this is yet another, yet again, yet we do not learn. I mean, really learn from the experience of history, those who have lived through such things before. We don't want to believe that we are not special that we are not caught up in a special cause and that we do not have a special assignment from God and that our obsession doesn't make us special. It is exhilarating, isn't, when we believe we are the progenitors of a world revolution, or at least one with Anglican circles. Heady stuff, eh? We are on the cusp of a new Reformation that will change everything. We have godly men and women leading us, right? Oh what glorious times.

Nothing new going on here. Nothing new to see. Move along, now. But, to let go of the feeling of importance, the rush of power, the thought of influence, God's special ones. Our hubris, well, we never learn.

If we consider history, if is a relief, actually. It has all happened before and if we are wise we will avoid the pitfalls that befell all the others. I doubt we will, but it is possible. As much as it is up to me, I will try to not fall back into the same mistakes. It is easy to. I've done it, already. Hopefully, I've learned.

People leave, people go, people make all kinds of claims. The world goes on. As for me and my house, I will even in my continued failure, with God's help, I will love God and love my neighbor as my self. I will love my neighbor in ways that seem like love to them (as much as they are able to know). There is nothing new under the sun! The human heart has changed little these last couple a thousand years.

So, new dioceses, new parishes, new provinces, new bishops for the salvation of what? Nothing new going on, nothing strange about it, move along, God helps us. It is a bit of a relief. To rest in the Good Shepherd is a wonderful place to abide.

Matt Pond PA

Why cannot they be a loyal opposition?

So, to those whose agenda is more important then anything else or any other consideration, now there are challenges to Barrack Obama's legitimacy to be the U.S. president. There are now several legal challenges to stop Obama from becoming president by claiming he is not a "natural-born" citizen. The Supreme Court seems to be looking into the allegations.

This report comes from a conservative, Religious Right news source - WorldNetDaily:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81484

The democratic notion of a "loyal opposition" is being lost altogether, and they don't care. Taking and keeping control and power is their only goal.

The players of the game are the same

Here is what I'm coming to think, and I'm just thinking out loud here: The players in this Anglican/Episcopalian war of theology and ecclesiology are playing the game in the same way because they come from and are acting out of the same generationally specific American-cultural. They were all formed within the same culture, and act within the same "rules," even if approaching the troubling issues from different angles. Whether liberal or conservative, reasserter or reappraiser (if those words are still used), those who are intent on imposing their perspective (e.g. Universalism, Calvinism, Puritanism, Evangelicalism, Catholicism, whatever other "ism" might be applied here) on everyone else to one degree or another are coming from the same place, but from opposite ends of the divide. For common folk living life, Fascism and Communism are not all that much different on the ground, but adherents to and within those two political systems are mortal enemies.

So, you wrote [I'm conversing with someone on TitusOneNine]: "[liberal Episcopalians]... departed from the faith once and for all handed down to the saints. There has been no discipline and no succor granted to those who have suffered under the jackboots of the liberals (I am writing from the Diocese of New Westminster to give you context)." The conservatives will engage in just as determined and jackbooted ways as you accuse the liberals of acting, except they will use a different set of excuses or rationals for their jackbooted actions. The liberals don't see themselves as acting in these kinds of tyrannical ways, and neither will the conservatives.

The whole way our troubles are being and have been approached and addressed is the problem. It is a core problem, and if not addressed there will never be resolution. God will not be glorified and the cause of Christ in North American will be further harmed.

I will agree that many liberals have been oppressive, but there are plenty of conservatives that are oppressive, too. For all of them, their means of achieving their ends are a big part of the problem, whether liberal or conservative. This core problem if not identified and addressed will bleed into the new Common Cause province, too. Once the common enemy of TEC is gone, the very real and definite differences within the different groups will bring up even more division if dealt with by the same ways and means as we have over this past several years. This is what history shows us, particularly in the U.S.

So, why not spend more time focusing on the core problem - the deficient and unchristian means and ways we try to achieve our end goals (which for both sides is the Glory of God and the reconciliation of humanity to God) - rather than tearing down and attempting to rebuild in our own image? From what I know of Anglicanism, our ability to do this kind of wrestling and dealing with one another and vast difference has been one of our unique contributions to Christianity. It is dying, and it is the fault of all of us.

Those with vested interests in our troubles, well, we have all failed, because we have been playing the game in ways dictated by our culture. We act and fight like Americans and not people that claim to be part of the Kingdom of God.

New Denomination

Bishop Duncan of a diocese in Pennsylvania (formerly bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh) that gives allegiance to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (certain countries in South America) has publicly stated that in December a new denomination will be born. Probably... most likely. There has been no retraction.

Of course, their end goal has been common knowledge. They've known it. We've all known it since the Chapman memo.

Naturally, if The Episcopal Church leadership would capitulate and submit to the doctrinal and confession nature of their American-Evangelical-style theological and ecclesiological positions, then they wouldn't need to form a new denomination outside the Tradition and structures of historical Anglicanism, but the Episcopal Church leadership won't submit to blackmail. While I don't necessarily agree with all the theological beliefs or positions of many leaders of this Church these days or their willingness to ignore the Canons, I don't condone dishonesty, hypocrisy, and blackmail. Besides, I made vows before God, and I have a high-view of God's ability to run His Church, even reform it in His own good time. I also understand history.

So, they do what they said they would do all along. They form a new denomination, they get numerically large provinces in the Southern Hemisphere to recognize them as legitimate, and they do the very American and Protestant thing - they break away and form yet another Protestant denominational sect. They do this for the sake of purity because if they don't Jesus will depart from them and not bless them. They act this way because they really love Jesus (more than the rest), and because their are very wise since they rightly have their particular interpretation of Scripture, and because they so clearly hear the very voice of God since they obviously love Jesus so much. (I'm not being sarcastic. I was an American-Evangelical for most of my life. I know how they think and what they feel! I can say that in many ways I am still an Anglican-Evangelical, but it is not the same thing.)

Really, for how many years now have they been working toward this end. They publicly denied such a thing and tried to emphasis that they are only working to reform The Episcopal Church, but at the same time taking steps to protect themselves from the evil doings of heretical liberals that lead this Church. They were kidding no one, but because, I suppose, legal and public relationships considerations were/are more important than honesty, forthrightness, and integrity they had to pretend that they were not working toward this end.

So, now we read that certain primates will recognize them. Greg Griffith (no relation) over at StandFirm writes, "After my interview about the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, I asked Bishop Duncan, and Archbishops Anis, Nzimbi and Akrofi about the new North American Province." They all forthrightly support bishop Duncan's efforts and the new province.

We all knew short of giving this group of leaders and followers the reigns of power and control over The Episcopal Church that this would be the end result. The four diocese have left. A new denomination will be born. The Anglican Communion will not be the same. Anglicanism as a Christian ethos and form of Christian spiritual expression will continue in some form, but not really with this "conservative" group (nor will it with the change-obsessed "liberals"). They are too American-Evangelical or Congregationalist. They are too overwhelmed by the Spirit-of-the-Times and they capitulate to American culture all too well. (Funny how they accuse the liberals of capitulating to the culture, when they are so blind to their own capitulation!)

Don't know how I missed this...

Luiz Coelho, a guy I've come to know through the Internet & Facebook (which doesn't really let me know him well, but gives me a good beginning to know him) was a Stewart at this past summer's Lambeth Conference. I've come to appreciate his writing and greatly respect his heart's good desire for God and the Church.

He wrote a piece on Episcopal Cafe about young people and traditional liturgy, and I don't know how I missed it. It is very well done and I think another indication or piece of evidence of where younger people are these days concerning their desire for liturgical and sacred music forms. It also suggests, again, the incredible opportunity Anglicanism in all its Tradition is strategically situated to appeal to and minister to young people (particularly unchurched young people).

Here is the link to the Episcopal Cafe piece, but I reprint it below in full because one never knows when these blog things go away.

Yes, young people do like traditional liturgy, by Luiz Caelho. Click below to read the whole thing.

Excerpts:

...many young Anglicans are attracted to traditional liturgical forms because they offer stability. We have been born in a fast-paced world, and in a short period of time have seen the rise and fall of countries, regimes, technologies, musical styles, fashion trends and even Church movements. At the same time, most of the cultural norms our mothers and fathers fought to liberalize do not apply to us anymore, and only God knows how they are going to be within some years. The world is freer, and it is changing so fast that sometimes it seems to be in a free-fall. The Church, to many of us, is the last glimpse of stability that exists in this post-modern society, and the certainty that its language has managed to be the same for all these years is a key factor for two reasons (among several):...

I understand, however, that all of that was a response to the plea of a previous generation which was suffocated by the evil side of traditionalism, and needed to foster changes in a world that did not want to look forward. Forty years later, however, we are still caught by some of the same questions: “How to attract youth? How to create liturgies that are meaningful to newer generations? How to reinvigorate the Church?” My response to that would be that we went too far in some reforms (mostly liturgical ones) and maybe restoring some of the icons we as a Church broke, allied with the empowerment of youth in the life of the Church would be a great start in attempting to attract some people of my age.

Let me end with a final and curious note. Lambeth stewards were awarded with the possibility of organizing a special mass for us and staff people at the Canterbury Cathedral's crypt. With such an astonishing location and so many liturgical resources, we did our best. Most of us had the opportunity of doing something, whether it was reading a lesson, an intercession, serving as an acolyte, playing the organ or joining the choir. We rehearsed for one week “If ye love me” by Tallis (which was our Communion hymn), celebrant and servers wore a lovely set of silky red vestments and clouds of incense filled that sacred space, as it has been, is now and will be forever.

It was the only service with incense during the Conference, by the way.


"Feed the Tree"

"Feed the Tree" by Belly (early 1990's). This was one of the songs on my "The Sundays" Pandora.com "station." I remember vividly when I was doing my master's work at Kent and advising the All Campus Programming Board. Memories induces by music.! What fun!

"Take your hat off when you're talkin' to me and be there when I feed the tree..."

Why? Really, logically, why?

This passionate plea by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's "Countdown" for explanation of why people voted for Proposition 8 in California and against gay-marriage. Watch the video!

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

A solution, cure, cause for hope?

It was reported to day that a bone marrow transplant seems to have cured an decade-long AIDS patient.

BERLIN - An American man who suffered from AIDS appears to have been cured of the disease 20 months after receiving a targeted bone marrow transplant normally used to fight leukemia, his doctors said Wednesday.

While researchers — and the doctors themselves — caution that the case might be no more than a fluke, others say it may inspire a greater interest in gene therapy to fight the disease that claims 2 million lives each year. The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.

As Huetter — who is a hematologist, not an HIV specialist — prepared to treat the patient's leukemia with a bone marrow transplant, he recalled that some people carry a genetic mutation that seems to make them resistant to HIV infection. If the mutation, called Delta 32, is inherited from both parents, it prevents HIV from attaching itself to cells by blocking CCR5, a receptor that acts as a kind of gateway.

Roughly one in 1,000 Europeans and Americans have inherited the mutation from both parents...

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases in the U.S., said the procedure was too costly and too dangerous to employ as a firstline cure. But he said it could inspire researchers to pursue gene therapy as a means to block or suppress HIV.

Another screed...

First of all, now President-to-be Obama is under attack because he has supposedly replaced the "pastor to presidents with a gay bishop." It seems Obama met a few times with Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to talk about what it was like to be the "first one."

OneNewsNow.org, a propaganda "news" organ of the American Family Association (a politicized Religious Right organization), ran with the meetings and have spun them to indicate that God-fearing Americans should be ready for a lot of "anti-Christian" stuff from the Obama administration. That is their logic - the president-to-be meets with a gay bishop to see what it is like to be a controversial first person (gay, black) in a prominent position.

Peter Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes Obama's consultations with Robinson show the true tenor of his upcoming administration.

"It looks like Billy Graham has been replaced by a gay bishop. We're moving to, perhaps, our first anti-Christian president; it's beyond post-Christian. Gene Robinson advocates homosexuality as part of the Christian experience," he explains. "Now Bible-believing Christians cannot accept that. Homosexual practice is sinful, as taught by the scriptures. This man [Obama] pretends to be faithful to Christianity, even as he works very hard to undermine it."

Of course, Obama has not consulted with Robinson for pastoral advise, presumably, but to simply talk about the reality he may face as a "first one." And, as should be noted, Billy Graham has not been a regularly "pastor to presidents" for a while now due to his age.

These people as self-professed Christians are supposed to practice honesty, integrity, and forthrightness, but this kind of "logic" or argument seems to suggest that they really aren't interested in such things when it comes to political power and influence. Make your argument - that's fine, but do it in a way that is actually Christian and not simply parrots of our current acidic, polarized, winner-take-all-at-any-expense political culture.

They sully the name of "Christian" and defame the cause of Christ in this nation.

These groups will lambaste and defame this newcoming president to the nth degree because he does not support their very sectarian and narrow understanding of what it means to be a Christian, the meaning of Scripture, and what God is doing among His people. They will attempt to poison people's perceptions of this administration so that come the next election all the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian voters (and hopefully all conservative voters, too) will in no way support the new administration or any other administration that is not in line with their political and economic aspirations.

As much as I really don't want to make this accusation, they really are living up to the worst of the public's perception of what "Fundamentalists" do and are all about. Sadly, that will be the impression too many people will then have of Christianity in general, particularly among younger folks who are raised in this kind of caustic and inflammatory environment.

Read some of the statistical analysis of this past election from Barna Research (a group that does a lot of analysis of religious stuff in this country). "Born-Agains" are not the same as "Evangelicals," and I think that "Evangelicals" will soon need to be re-designated as "Fundamentalists." How People of Faith Voted in the 2008 Presidential Race

Memories

Speaking of birthdays, a friend of mine from Ohio, John Nolan, who has the most amazing ability to send tons of people happy birthday e-mails every year, sent this link along with my "happy birthday."

Josh Hosler presents (updated weekly) THE #1 SONG ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY

You can find out what were the number one songs on your birthday back to the 1930's. It's kind of neat (I just spent way too much money on iTunes buying old tunes). Listening to "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5 right now.

Veterans Day

I watched the last 1/3rd of "Saving Private Ryan" a couple days ago. There can be honor in the endeavor of defending freedom and providing for the safety of others in the face of tyrants and abusers of humankind. It is never preferable, but at times most certainly necessary. The men and women who fight the wars do so at the command of superiors. Most are honorable. Some are not. Whether those who are not honorable continue or not depends on the honorableness of their superiors. Tyrants and abusers of humankind, whether dictators or sergeants, breed new tyrants and abusers from their fellows.

A description of a wise leader may be whether that person is able to discern properly when to send the men and women of the military into combat. Warfare in and of itself comes to no good end. Warfare born of ego or political expediency is an evil that accomplishes nothing good. Yet, there are times when war must be fought. There are times when men and women give their lives in order to save humanity from that which could well destroy civilization. The responsibility of whether a war, a battle, and excursion is of the honorable kind or not falls upon the shoulders of those who have the power to declare such things and send men and women to do their bidding.

We should pray for our leaders that they will be wise and judicious in their use of the military - of placing lives in danger and engaging in activities that will kill people, good and bad. We most definitely need to pray for the men and women who engage in the battle, that as they come to the precarious point where they find that they must take another life, pray that each of their souls may not be so damaged that they will never again be the person God created in innocence.

Preaching up a storm...

They start 'em off early in what I will presume to be a Pentecostal/Charismatic church.

Kids really do pay attention and mimic what goes on around them.

From: Bishop Alan's Blog and Raspberry Rabbit, who wrote:

Quite obviously a baby who's been listening to the pastor ranting on a Sunday morning. I suppose that Episcopal babies would be lifting their cups up in the air and inviting Teddy, Dolly and Ducky to come up and have a little bits of their teething biscuit no matter what their denominational affiliation might be.

Children do pay attention.

From the U.K. Times-Online and Ruth Glendhill's Articles of Faith:

Regarding the US election, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: 'It's been an amazing demonstration of the vitality of the democratic process. A record turnout. And the sense therefore that the issues in the election, the issues about the outgoing American administration, have actually stirred the moral imagination of the United States in ways that people didn't expect. Given the sort of turnout that we have in British elections it would be quite nice to have an election one of these days that stirred our imagination to that extent.'
(The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams)

God's will and elections

I can imagine last night there were scores of moms and dads that gathered around their TV-sets to watch the returns. They probably took their kids with them to vote - to show them how important it is that we are involved in decisions of who will govern this nation. Their kids settling in with them, perhaps some popcorn and Pepsi sitting around.

"Watch what God is going to do," they might have said to their kids. "Watch how God honors the prayers of His people!" And we know, fervent prayers have been raised by scores of people for God of cause John McCain to win the presidency - that God's will be accomplished, that Christian American will triumph even in the face of not-so-good poll results. Perhaps not their first choice, but he is the best they got.

"Watch as God accomplishes His will, and we know that God's will is for a faithful man who upholds the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, and America's place as a shining city upon a hill," the dad might say. God will honor the prayers of His people who pray against someone like Obama taking the reigns of power, against the godless secularists who are intent on ridding the Public Square of people of faith, against the Socialists who want to take our hard-earned money away from us and give to lazy people or funnel it into big-government, who will sanction sin by ending discrimination against homosexuals. God's will is plain, because we know the Bible and the words of the Bible are quite easy to understand. Any God-fearing and God-loving Christian knows this!

So, they begin to watch the TV, Fox News, and the returns. It looks good at first. The parents say to their kids, "See! What did we tell you! If John McCain wins it is because God caused him to win!" But a little while later, things begin to change.

One of the kids looks up at his or her father or mother and says, "What's happening mom/dad? Is God losing?" "No, of course not, son/daughter! God always comes through. Nothing can stand against the will of God. When things begin to look tough, that is when God shines all the stronger," mom or dad might say. More states fall.

"Dad, McCain isn't going to win, is he?" "No son, just have faith! When things are the most bleak, that is when God comes through all the more. He does this to show us humans that He is in control and that things like polls and TV commentators cannot thwart His will." "Watch how God pulls out our victory!"

Then, they call it. Then, McCain gives a concession speech. No lawsuits trying to stop the Democrats from winning. No accusatory language of hanging chads or voter fraud by ACORN. McCain gave such a graceful and dignified speech. If he had acted like this throughout the campaign, perhaps he might have won.

What do the parents tell their children, now? Satan and the secularist thwarted God's will? Maybe if you're a good Arminian, but if you're a good Calvinist... If it was God's will that McCain win the presidency, what now? Is it God's will that Obama won? "Isn't God able to make His will to be done," asks one of the kids. "Is Satan stronger than God?" "Are we all going to be put in jail because we are Christians? Are they going to make us believe in Darwinism or that homosexuals should be allowed to get married?" the kids might ask. Since, after all, the fear mongering by the politicized Religious Right has been astounding. What do they tell their children? "America" is now lost. American Family Association declared that if McCain loses it will mean the end of "American as we know it." It will mean that our nation will be so terribly harmed that it will never be able to be corrected. (I have the e-mail sent out by Don Wildmon, chairman of AFA).

I've read and heard plenty of fervent prayers to God that go something like, "please, please let John McCain win!" I've heard Christians pleading with God to make McCain win. Why is it so hard simply to fervently pray, "Thy will be done!?" Why is it so difficult to not pray for our own agenda to be taken up by God and made real in the world, but rather to humble ourselves and think that what we know and what we believe may not be right - to pray God's will be done and not our own!

There are a lot of people in America that are very depressed, today. A lot of people who believe that God's very will was rejected by the country - we shook a fist in the face of God, last night. They are truly afraid that God's punishment will now descend upon the United States. What they have a very difficult time believing is that the leaders of the politicized Religious Right or that they might have been wrong. Plainly and simply, wrong.

How much better is it to explain to our children that God's will is not necessarily the implementation of social, political, or economic theory or systems, but in the living of life in humility, in grace, in mercy (which is "strength under control"), in simplicity. That regardless of who won the election, our Christian task is to pray for the man - this man of color, and some day a woman. "God's will be done," and I am certainly not smart or experienced enough to know that will in such a way to be able to tell my nieces and nephews which man or woman He wants to be president.

I don't have kids. And, if I lived in Arkansas whether I am part of a gay couple or a co-habitating straight couple, I am now barred from adopting children. But of course, the good people of Arkansas voted for "God's will to be done!," and they know what that will is.

On an other note, Jessy Jackson was so taken with emotion last night while standing on the large field with thousands of other Chicagoans, that for a long time all he seemed to be able to do is hold his finger to his mouth and cry. Oprah Winfrey was there, too - tears in her eyes. I cannot begin to imagine what this is like to so many African Americans. Reading the headlines from around the world this is not just a happening in the lives of Americans - Obama's teacher from Indonesia, the people of Obama Japan, the people from the village of his father in Kenya, of young people in India, of his step-brother in Africa - A MAN OF COLOR WILL BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE STRONGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. That, is an accomplishment!

Is it God's will? I don't know. I have no reason to believe it isn't. I know of plenty of people who do not share my feelings. We shall see whether he can govern and/or whether others will allow him to govern.

The City #26

The morning after a historic event, riding on the subway to work, dead tired because I was up too late last night. On the subway, an African American woman heading for work, a T-shirt with "Brooklyn" written across it in white letters. Her young daughter sitting next to her, pig-tails, back-pack, all coordinated in pink. An expectant look. Not rich, not poor - I think. Mother quietly reading to daughter from the beginning pages of, "The Dreams of My Father, " by Barrack Obama. That's PRESIDENT Obama, to you.

McCain and his Concession Speech

If McCain maintained himself throughout his campaign by way of the example of his concession speech, I might have actually voted for him. What happened to him? Did he simply give himself over to his handlers? Was his want for power so strong that he gave himself over to his worst inclinations?

I simply cannot begin to imagine what this win means for so many African Americans.

Speaking of simplicity and dignity...

"Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude the question, 'What on earth is he up to now?' will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, 'I wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."

C.S. Lewis

Simplicity

"The loss of simplicity is the destruction of dignity."

The Parson's Handbook, Revised Edition; Cyril E. Pocknee; (1965, p. 28)

(Of course, this 13th edition is "on the basis of the 12th Edition by Percy Dearmer.")

Popcorn

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