June 2009 Archives

76th General Convention

So, next week I will be off to Anaheim, CA, for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. I will be there from July 7th through the 12th working for passage of Resolution A177 concerning denomination-wide heathcare benefits (the research project I've been working on these past three years). We shall see how it fairs. The situation with the economy might impact its passage, but all around this proposal saves the Church money!

I'm looking forward to listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who will be giving an address. I've gone through several stages of feelings toward Rowan - from jubilation when he was made Archbishop (a real theologian as Archbishop of the Anglican Communion!), to frustration at want seemed to be ineffectual leadership concerning our Anglican troubles, to now thinking that he is one of the few in the midst of this ignoble fight that is acting like a real Anglican!

Since I've never been to L.A., I'm taking an extra day and a half to be a tourist - probably only enough time to do the standard stuff. I'm staying between Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Why not?

We must take time...

"We must take time, take pains, have a plan, form spiritual habits, if we are to keep our souls alive; and now is the time to begin. A man to whom religion is a reality, and who knows what is meant by "the practice of salvation," keeps his balance, because the living center of his life is spiritual. He cannot be upset, not shaken. The same hard knocks come to him as to others, but he reacts to them by the central law of his life. He suffers deeply, but he does not sour. He knows frustration, but he goes right on in his kindness and faith. He sees his own shortcomings but he does not give up, because a power rises up from his spiritual center and urges him to the best."

Joseph Fort Newton (1880 - 1950; Baptist minister and masonic author)

HatTip: Andrew Sullivan

TEC Survey

Hey everyone - Here is our chance to make our "sacred voices" known to the powers-that-be at 815, the Episcopal Church Center, the center of the national governance of The Episcopal Church (more particularly the Strategic Planning Commission - if that's the right name).

Here is the link to the "STRATEGIC PLANNING AND THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH" survey.

Reading through the questions, the wanted outcome of the designers of the survey is pretty apparent. They have tipped their hand, and if the outcome does not match their expectations, I wonder whether the results will be acknowledged or whether they will rethink their already determine direction?

I added an addition comment at the end:

Of course, how some of these terms are defined will make a big difference. For example, a response to question number 4 is: "Focusing on God's Mission as the centerpiece of our church." What one reads into "God's Mission" could lead the Church into being about the "Cure of Souls" or into being about doing similar things as do social service organizations and advocacy organizations. Are we talking about a "Church" or a social/advocacy organization as our public "brand" or "narrative?" Making the Church "vital" has no more to do with having 60% Hispanics as members as it does having 60% Caucasians as members. These are old paradigms that are becoming increasingly outdated and irrelevant to upcoming generations. Why are we still stuck in them?

The Church needs focus on its God given first priorities, salvation and formation. From those priorities come good works and not before, else we are just a non-profit organization absent of the Faith that has been passed down by our mothers and fathers for the past 2,000+ years.

As a gay priest, I don't need reminding of my "victimhood," but need reminding of the transformation work of the Holy Spirit in my life that comes first and foremost through salvation through Jesus Christ and my yielding of myself to God's will. That is the Cure of Souls, the work of the Church. We are stuck in a mindset that relies on 1960 & 70's definitions and understandings (multiculturalism, identity-politics, as examples). These are passing away, but too many people are reticent to understand or acknowledge this - to the future Church's detriment.

I honestly feel for the current leadership of the Episcopal Church, because culture is passing them by and too many don't want to recognize it. It must be very hard to accept that the direction they have taken the Church has not worked very well and is quickly becoming moot.

"Love Between, not Among"

Fr. Tobias Haller BSG responds in a post to the argument made by some who oppose same-sex marriages (or unions of any kind) when they ask a question such as, "Why shouldn’t three or more people be allowed to marry if they love each other?"

A paragraph:

A polyamorous or polygamous grouping of people may claim to (and perhaps actually) share a loving relationship among themselves. But “among” makes all the difference — it is not the same as between. Such a group or assembly may love one another, but they cannot love “each other” — that kind of reciprocal experience is limited to couples. A multiply partnered relationship cannot be “mutual” but must be “distributive.”

Read the whole post, Love Between, not Among.

The Future of the Church

So, where is the future of The Episcopal Church going? How generational is the change? Here is a great piece by Derek Olson from his blog Haligweorc entitled "The Episcopal 'Reform of the Reform'”

He writes:

I suggest that there is a “Spirit of ‘79″ that was born from and exists in parallel to the “Spirit of Vatican II.” That is, the 1979 BCP embodied wide-spread changes that were rooted in the scholarship of the Liturgical Renewal that was embodied in Vatican II’s Novus Ordo liturgies. Like the Spirit of Vatican II, the Spirit of ‘79 has understood the generous freedoms and liberality of the ‘79 BCP as a authorization of liturgical license in general rather than a provision of space for legitimate options. Furthermore, I believe that this Spirit was not simply introduced in the texts but as part of a socio-liturgical movement.

In addition, he begins with the Roman Catholic Church and the place were the "reform of the reform" is well seen: New Liturgical Movement blog.

Campus ministry!

I've done some research... In the Diocese of Ohio, according to the latest attendance figures of all the four-year colleges and universities, there is a total student population of 178,651 within the boarders of the Diocese (the northern half of the state, above and not including Columbus). In the zip-code areas of current parish churches in the diocese of Ohio, there are approximately 165,829 students. There are 79,720 students in "college towns" with Episcopal parishes. In the personal, leadership, and spiritual development of students, this is a critical time in their lives. They are our future, they are becoming the movers and shakers of society, of business, of media, of politics, of war and peace, of the Church. It is tremendously important to provide them opportunities for discovery of the Gospel for the first time and for their faith development and Christian formation. That's a lot of people at a very strategic and important time in their lives.

Campus Ministry: It is a fact, whether some want to face it or admit to it, that the future of this world rests in the hands of the students living and learning right now in our colleges and universities.

It is also a fact that for most mainline denominations, the support for campus ministry continues to wain and fail. Again and again I read of the ending of a college chaplaincy of The Episcopal Church, let alone all the other denominations. I wonder whether too many of those in leadership of mainline denominations have simply written off student ministry as a lost cause (even though giving lip service to its importance)? Among American-Evangelicals, it really is a funding issue, since they well realize that to influence the academy is to influence the world.

If we want to advocate for justice, say, or the precepts of the Christian Life (if we believe in them, that is, as being the way to honest freedom, peace, and inner joy), if we truly want to have an influence on the course of human events, then we must be involved in the lives of students, professors, and university staff. The majority of students entering the university these days are unchurched. In most cases, they have not been given a foundation upon which to make ethical or moral judgments beyond their own feelings or self-interest. They have not been given a foundation upon which to make judgments about legitimate religious expressions and cultic (in the venacular sense) groups. This is quickly becoming the common state of affairs, and student services staff fight against such things all the time (even though the underpinnings of the fight they wage is based on secular and often anti-religious positions).

"The World" has no problem asserting its influences on the lives, well being, and future direction of students lives. I worked with students for 20 years, I can attest to all kinds of "others" that simply want to exploit and manipulate students and turn them into consuming machines.

We should not continue to ignore the vital nature of university ministry by simply relinquishing the positive influence of the Gospel in academe and give students over to the deleterious effects of the negative influences they face every day. This is a vital time in human development, a strategic time to influence for the good, but we pull away and give over to the "principalities and powers of the air" our students, their future, and our own future well being.

Again, I have said that if we recognize the trends of our times (revealed repeatedly in study after study), we should realize that the historic traditions of Anglicanism play into the current "sense" of today's students. Yet, it is not being realized.

There must be a way to reinvigorate campus ministry within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Christian tradition in this country. It will not be upon the model in place for so many years - this is a big reason why so many ministries are failing and being closed. If the World looks at us and sees nothing much different from itself (themselves), then what's the point? Why should people give a listen and consideration to the Gospel, since in their eyes those who claim it are just like them. Does not this Gospel change us fundamentally into a different kind of person... if we allow it, yield to it, and take it as our own? This doesn't necessitate an Us vs Them dynamic if we remain in humility... the kind that is realized when we "love our neighbors as ourselves."

Focusing on justice issues and good works without the transformation that happens within individual students by the life-changing experience of the Gospel is in the long run of little importance, IMHO. Re-formation (out of the Systems of this World and into a Life in Christ) must happen within individual students so to propel them to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humble with their God.

As we continue on in a Post-Christian environment, the idea of establishing living-forming communities and residences with students among our campuses can be a model that gives us both a financial and non-political/ideological means of engaging students in their faith development and Christian formation. As we give ourselves to the Christian Disciplines, God works within us to build within us the means of changing the world for the good.

It is my desire and quest to be engaged in the re-development of campus chaplaincies / ministries within the Anglican tradition. I think it is vitally important for the future of this Church and for the well being of not only the students, but for academe and our society.

Iranians and their desire

From Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish:

What The Opposition Stood For

It's worth recalling the campaign and its enormous energy as it continued. Here is a campaign ad for Karroubi. The resonances are quite obvious. The translation is below:

1 (Girl in street): Defending civil rights
2 (Boy next to old man): Counterbalancing poverty/deprivation
3 (Boy pushing away donation box): Nationalizing oil income
4 (Man standing on rooftop): Reducing tension in international affairs
5 (Boy sitting next to satellite dishes): Free access to information
6 (Girl sitting besides her mother): Supporting single mothers
7 (Girl with cast): Knock down violence against women
8 (Boy): Education for all
9 (Boy infront of man locking car): Increasing public safety
10 (Girl on rooftop): Ethnic and religious minority rights
11 (Man on rooftop): Supporting NGOs
12 (Girl in front of wall): Public involvement
13 (Boy and girl): We have come for change
14: Change for Iran

What we see in Iran...

Freedom from oppression & democracy are realized through the people, not from imposition by an outside force. Iran is in the midst of it! I honestly believe that for a true freedom to take hold in any country (nation or state), it must come from within the desire of the people. It is the people that rise up against the oppressors (of whatever form and to whatever degree) when they long for freedom.

This is one reason why the struggle in places like Iraq is so difficult. U.S. policy went forward believing that we could impose (or establish) a democracy by an outside force simply because we wanted to and because we believed they would welcome it. Many did, but many more (if not most) were not ready and did not welcome the attempt. I suspect most all welcomed the removal of Saddam, but not in the way it all transpired. My hope is that the Iraqi people will be free, but they must first want freedom more than their fear of the oppressive/manipulative/self-centered authorities.

We saw a while ago in Pakistan people rise up against military/civil dictatorship, and even though the process is not finished in Pakistan it has come a long way. The battle now is between the desire for freedom and fear.

We see the goings on in Iran right now, and the people are demanding a different outcome than what certain officials set in motion. My hope and prayer is that it will remain peaceful, as much as it can. Freedom, honest freedom, will be realized when the people demand it, we did when the citizens of the 13 colonies rose up against the British.

Some Republicans from the loosing side of the last election are chastising President Obama for not being stronger in his support for the "revolutionaries" in Iran. I fear they still want another Iraq.

Wait for Me

Moby's new album, "Wait for Me." Yeah!

Moby's Announcement

NPR's piece. Said it is his best in 10 years!

NPR's All Music Considered - Listen

A good article in the TimesOnline.com (UK) from Allister McGrath.

Credo: A system of belief should not involve point scoring:
The loss of an external threat often gives rise to an internal crisis, and the need for a new sense of identity

Speaking of the ANC, McGrath notes that the aftermath of this recent election in South Africa saw the ANC majority shrink. One reason, he speculates, is because it was much easier for the ANC to be against something, and negatively against something like Apartheid, but now they have to articulate what they are for.

McGrath writes:

That challenge seems to be proving more difficult as apartheid recedes in the popular memory. The ANC needs to create a new, positive identity for itself rather than relying on past enemies and battles.

It’s a familiar point. Purely oppositional movements tend to find themselves in difficulties once their point of reference is removed. The loss of an external threat often gives rise to an internal crisis, and the need for a new sense of identity. This often means that groups justify themselves by condemning others.

This is very true. Here in the U.S. we see this happening all over the place. President Obama presented a positive message of hope (as overworked as that word may have been) and many people voted for him even as they described themselves as "conservatives," "Evangelicals," "independents," and "moderates." We see now the primary movers and shakers of the Republican Party yelling and screaming about this and that, but all that is being presented loudly and forcefully is negative and for what they are against. Many of the leadership of the Republican Party will jump on just about anything the Obama administration does for no other reason that to try to cut his credibility, popularity, and effectiveness so that come the next election they might regain power and control.

Being the party in power is the goal of any political party, but the methods they are using at this point will only work against them, IMHO. This group of Republicans (Neo-Cons, really) do not understand what happened this past election. They still think shrill, arrogant attack is what is needed to get back into power. I think it is a profound misread of the current situation, and well demonstrates what McGrath is writing about. What is their positive message? Is fear mongering and character assassination all they have? What are their solutions and ideas that are not simply a repackaging of the Bush administrations failed policies? It is, truly, much harder to be a visionary and present a well reasoned and thought out positive message. (In some ways, the Newht Gringwich era "Contract with the American People" did that, but he is not acting in the same manner, now!)

Likewise, we see the political and sectarian goals of the Religious Right as demonstrating McGrath's point. They talk a lot about protecting the American Family, but it is always in the context of what they are against - particularly their perceptions of the evils of homosexuality. What we see and hear in the media (even more particularly in the religious media) is all negative and victimhood. They fight against everything and everyone that does not line up with their viewpoints and goals. They may try to present in a positive way the fight to save the American Family, but to a growing number of people what they really see is nothing much more than anti-gay everything. Why, if they are so pro-family, do they not focus on the real culprits of the decline of the American family - all heterosexual, like divorce? I think because it is far easier to find a scapegoat rather than deal with the failings of one's group, and it is easier to be negative. That is why in the longer run, I don't think they are going to succeed in many of their efforts. Trends don't look good. They need to re-tool and try to present to the public what they are for without the ranker and negativity and with positive, forward looking ideas.

Finally, we see this, too, in the groups breaking away from the Episcopal Church (TEC). Whether low-church Evangelicals or high-church Anglo-Catholics, their bond rests on their common opposition to the more progressive elements of the Anglican Communion, and particularly TEC. They articulate well what their common hatred is and to whom or what it is focused. They are articulating what they are for, but again in the context of what they are opposed to. It seems to be that for right now, the AMiA is the only group that has come out from under this illness. I just don't see how Charismatic-Evangelicals claiming Anglicanism and favoring women priests are going to stay with Anglo-Catholics claiming Anglicanism who won't have women priests. And, it isn't just about women, but about the theologies they adhere to and the inevitable conflict that those different theologies will cause. Anglicanism has held it all in tension for a long time, but these groups are born out of schism and accusation and negative development (whether they are right or wrong).

Do they really represent anything different than the phenomena McGrath writes of?

This is partly why I am coming closer to simply declaring that I will side-step out of this eddie and quagmire that is now the TEC and Anglicanism, and devote myself to the Christian Disciplines continuing down through time and place and draw closer to God and those who are simply tired of all this negativism and accusation. In no way does that mean I am abandoning TEC or Anglicanism, surely not, but I will remove myself as much as I can from the deleterious effects of our current cultural deterioration (as evidenced in politics and the Church). Who knows...

Profile of all U.S. Megachurches

I haven't looked at the specifics, but this seems to be a rather large research project with a significant study set (24,900).

Profile of all U.S. Megachurches
Hartford Institute for Religion Research

Unexpected Consequences

From the blog, An Unapproved Road, here is a great piece on the effects of American Idol finalists Kris and Adam and their relationship and because of that relationship (between a Christian and the oh so talented and presumed to be gay guy) there is a shifting in the culture.

Read: We Get to Carry Each Other

A couple paragraphs:

Countless commentators wanted the Idol competition to be about more than just singing. With Danny Gokey rounding out the Top Three, many wanted to make it a tally of endorsements for, oh, shall we call it “lifestyles?” You know, Danny (and likewise Kris, the dark horse bringing up the rear), the card-carrying Christian versus Adam the flamboyant one who hasn’t said he’s gay.

Let us pause to decode that snapshot of American pop culture. In social shorthand, those characterizations imply juxtapositions, i.e. a Christian can’t be flamboyant, and the one who “looks gay” can’t (or wouldn’t) be Christian; or, the one is restrained, temperate, and “good,” the other is … not. (Alternatively, the one is open, creative, and "good" -- while the other is not!)

Whatever. Moving on now, to real three-dimensional people, and the reason Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are important to our spiritual health...

I know next to nothing about Kris Allen’s non-musical life, except that he’s married, he calls himself Christian and he’s done missionary work across the world. I heard about the exchanges among the other contestants that made reference to what is supposedly “godly” and right in relationships, but Kris’s name wasn’t part of that. I don’t know what kind of Christianity he practises, or how he envisions his God. I do know this: he declares himself Christian to the television audience – i.e. to the world; and he freely, publicly, verbally, and especially non-verbally, loves Adam Lambert like a brother.


KrisAdam.jpg

For some, everything changes

There is a parishioner of St. Paul's and a friend (she likes to get soaked during Eastertide when we asperge) who commented on this photograph. Her comments, wrapped up in her life as a black woman who has had (and continues to have) all kinds of connections and experiences, is just meaningful to me. She granted me permission to include her comments, here.

Recent photo of a little boy visiting the White House. He wanted to feel Obama's hair because he wanted to know if the President's hair felt just like his. Obama obliged. Priceless.

obama-boy.jpg

She writes:

Ya know I have seen that picture several times and did not understand the context. I am reminded of the time my knucklehead nephew (born in April 1980) was about 8, and (even though I am a Republican) I was astonished that he was very supportive of the President (Ronald Reagan) Then it hit me. That was the only President he knew in his lifetime.

When I was a small child (I was quite precocious, as you can imagine), I amused a neighbor lady with our "political discussions" about the results of the Korean Conflict (we predicted future involvement in the Asian theatre and Vietnam specfically), Brown v. Board of Ed, the emerging Civil Rights movement, and whether the President (Eisenhower) was a Negro (his mother was eventually proven to be a "quadroon"). Ah, those were heady times for this little colored child (already a Life Member of the NAACP).

My Father ran for Congress in the 50's (as a Democrat; that is another story for another day), and remember his campaign literature: "Elect Brooklyn's First NEGRO Representative!" He ran against Mrs. Edna Kelly, and when she won, she became the first female representative. And even though Daddy did not win, we got a new puppy after the campaign, just as he promised.

Fast forward. Of course, I loved watching and listening to eager young white young men campaigning for Obama last year. They would approach me, and ask if I was registered to vote, and when I would say I was a registered Republican, they did not skip a beat: "....but you are going to vote for Obama, right?"

And the arguments in bars! Saint Patrick's Day 2008 at one of the more infamous Irish bars in Brooklyn, when all of the "youngsters" loudly proclaimed that they were voting for Obama, even if he was "Hawaiian". And many of the "village elders" at the end of the bar muttered that they never thought that they would see the day that they would vote for that "colored lad".

Because at the end of they day, folks saw that he WAS and IS the right choice.

I choose to focus on what a wonderful time we can look forward to for this generation (and the next) for most of the coming decade!

Evadne

There are and have been experiences in my life that lend themselves to a degree of understanding of what others go through in this life, in this culture, in this time and age. Yet, there are things I will never understand intuitively, inwardly, intimately. In such cases, silence and humility remain the best course to follow. I hope I have the wisdom to know.

I was listening to an NPR report this morning concerning changing attitudes among younger women and the "hook-up" culture. "Hook-up," while meaning a variety of things depending on context, means in this context, basically, "one-night stands," sexually speaking.

I heard again this statistic - younger people are putting off marriage until much later, men in particular are on average postponing marriage until age 28 or after. One of the people interviewed in the piece described the taking on by women of men's attitudes toward sex, commitment, relationships, and "love." So, hooking-up is becoming more commonplace and extending longer not only among younger men, but now among women. This causes me to think of a number of things:

1. I know of several secular studies that have been issued results over the last several years that all suggest that a primary indicator of whether a marriage will fail is if the couple lived together before they were married. If they lived together, they were far more likely to get divorced.

2. I'm saddened, frankly, that women are taking on the more beastial attitudes and actions that have long been the domain of men. Rather than the more stabilizing and civilization contribution the "woman's way of knowing," they are giving into the superficiality and non-committal attitudes of men (and we know where this has led with regard to single-mom households and the increased poverty rates among single-mom homes). Is this really what the women's movement was all about?

3. What the consequences of this are going to be for society, for children's development, and for the individual, interpersonal relationships of those caught up in a culture of "hooking-up?"

Now, there is always the tendency in the present moment to project into the future the consequences of present actions and attitudes, but the projections are based only on current understanding of things. So, projecting forward with our current eyes of understanding, it might well look bleak. Yet, for those for whom this is the developmental situation and condition of their lives, what the outcomes for a good, stable, fulfilled life will be is really unknown. Perhaps, in the transitional scheme of things, they will actually end up in better places than we are now. Who knows... It is disturbing to me, however.

I would rather see less "hooking-up" and more "committing-up!" I fear that the end result will be a lot more loneliness, anxiety, fear, and the losing of the ability to bond. Just look at what the "hook-up" culture has done to much of the gay sub-culture.

Slow, deep rivers and eddies

My continuing attempt to articulate what I'm thinking (painful, I know).

For over the last few thousands of years, since Abraham and our shared belief that he and Sarah were the beginnings of God interacting with humanity in ways that we historically understand, from the "trickle" of a stream that began with Abraham has develop a large and slow flowing river we call the Tradition (nothing to do with “traditionalism”).

Still waters run deep!

It is easy in a cursory way to see this river as being almost stagnant, but if we look ever more closely we recognize that, indeed, it is moving with a strength and a surety that is unequaled. The river is going in a direction, it is steady, it is powerful to those who take the time to understand it. There can be all kinds of analogies, but this is where I will go.

Despite how Man tries to control this river by building levies or barriers or dams and so on, the river will not be contained by the mere efforts of men and women. It will flow where it will flow. It will accomplish what it will accomplish, despite our most strenuous efforts to divert its affects.

People enter the river, people exit the river, while many on the banks misunderstand the purpose and power of the river. Others curse the river because it cannot be contained or controlled or manipulated by the designs of Man. The river flows where it will.

Eddies develop both within the river and just off its banks. What gets caught in the eddies has a very difficult time escaping, even as the river continues to flow, even as the eddies stay in the same place, even as some thing caught in an eddy, die.

Those who enter the river must learn to navigate its course. They must get their "river-legs" (or "sea-legs" or "subway-legs," you get the meaning). They must learn to swim, well. They must learn to "listen" as the river "speaks." They can fight against the current if they wish, but normally to their own detriment. We have seen again and again throughout the history of the last few thousands of years those who self-assuredly enter the river thinking they know, thinking they’ve figured it all out, only to meet their end. The river confounds the thinkings and the doings of Man's best efforts.

At the heart of the Tradition, is this: Redemption - the reestablishment of relationship between God and man first-off and then the re-enabling of men and women to be in right relationship with one other. I’ve heard older river people talk about their relationship with a river, as if personified. For us who claim Christ, living waters now feed the river that maintains and is the Tradition. It is a relationship through which we are absolutely changed, transformed, re-formed out of the "worldly systems" that work on us and mold us (form us) in ways contrary to the Life in Christ - life as intended from the beginning and made possible, again. If we regard the Tradition honestly, I think, we will see that this relationship is established, developed, and nurtured through disciplines that when interred into have their way with us - God's way. We are re-formed! We are enabled to experience God and life anew.

I think over the last century, particularly the last 50 odd years (and really since the dawn of the Enlightenment), we increasingly have given ourselves not to relationship, but to kinds of teaching, kinds of philosophies, kinds of theories, kinds of politics, kinds of methods, kinds of confessions, kinds of acts that all in the end still work contrary to the will of God in our communities and in our lives. Rather than give ourselves over to the re-forming disciplines of the Tradition, we give ourselves to the Ideas of Man - even ideas that attempt to help us explain all this god stuff.

So, we fight, we argue, we demean, we cast dispersions, we torture and kill over these ideas of ours as we move further to the edges of the banks of the river until we find ourselves caught up in eddies. We swirl around and around as our attention and our eyes focus on ourselves only, and we get nowhere. We keep on in this way until we don't even recognize that we are no longer moving with the river, slow and deep.

Part of the great Tradition, a least as my understanding of our experience in Anglicanism might suggest, is to debate and argue about all manner of things. I think this is partly due to our Jewish heritage, remaining, among many other things. After all, iron sharpens iron. A river rubs a jagged rock smooth. Yet, instead of remaining in the main flow of the river, we find ourselves in eddies. We find ourselves in eddies of identity politics, political correctness, fundamentalism of the left and right, philosophies and theologies that have more to do with the hermeneutic of doubt and disbelief born out of giving ourselves to the Systems of this World rather than giving ourselves to the disciplines that keep us squarely in the river, on course. To stay the course is to allowing us to be re-formed, to be reshaped so that we know well how to navigate, how to swim, how to be in right relationship with God and one another.

So much of Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church are caught in eddies of our own making. The river continues, and we are seeing renewed expressions of the passing on of the Tradition to emerging generations. It is the same Tradition, the river continuing to flow, but experienced anew by new generations. Yet, we remain in our eddies because frankly at this point we have become blind to our own plight. In some ways, our eddies are more comfortable to us than re-integrating back into the river – even though to remain means stagnation, exhaustion, and a withering death.

I'm tired of it all. I'm tired of fighting. I want to step back into the river. I want to find people who want to dive in, head first. I want to be with people who are intentional in giving themselves to the transformative power of the Tradition, even if at present I or we don't feel like it, or cannot ascend intellectually to what the Tradition demands, but that we think not too highly of ourselves and realize that there is far more to understand and to experience than we have thus far. We allow God to have his way with us.

Instead of coming to the Tradition and the classic Christian disciples and thinking we have to re-interpret them to fit into a "Modern world," why don't we engage the Tradition and the disciplines and allow them to reinterpret us! We yield in humility, rather than demand the Tradition yield to our great intelligence, our great coming-of-age.

There is nothing new here… all this is as old and tested as the slow moving river. I want the river, not the eddies. I want the relationship, not the systems, even as I try to understand it all through systems of thought. A "systematic theology" is important to consider, but it is secondary to the relationship. There is nothing sentimental about any of this, nothing nostalgic, nothing about longing for a past "golden era." There is a gazing forward as the river flows, and I wish to give myself to the learning of how to swim, how to navigate, how to be in the midst of a deep and slow moving river of Tradition. Step out of the controversies and the fighting, out of the eddy, and into the living waters of the river.

What churches do...

This is a very real and commendable effort a church is doing. There are all manner of things churches (communities of people in God's name) can do to be a comfort and a help to people in areas of economic and emotional trouble.

From NPR: A Door Opens ... To Pie, Coffee And Possibility

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