Pink- Dear Mr President – Live

I am ambivilent about Pink, but I’ve kind of watched her and listen to hear over the last few years and I must say that I think there is something there. I’ve heard her speak – I think there is an authenticity to her. She’s smart, and not just smart at marketing herself.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a ragging liberal, by a long shot, although… While I do not necessarily agree with some of what she sings, I do agree with the questions she asks and what we, and I me we because we are the ones who elected this man and his government, should be focusing on as a people – particularly those of us who claim Christ.
Anyway, here is a video entitled “Dear Mr. President:”

via: Elizabeth Kaeton’s weblog Telling Secrets

Sermon – Conversion of St. Paul

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Carroll St., Brooklyn
The Rev. Robert Griffith
January 28, 2007
The Conversion of St. Paul and our Own
Today we are celebrating the Feast day of the Conversion of St. Paul. It was actually January 25, but because St. Paul is our Patron, today is the day were we do-it-up-right.
What was so significant about this conversion we heard of in the readings today?
Who was this man, called Saul and later Paul?
Saul was born in the Roman city of Tarsus making him an honest Roman citizen. This becomes significant as we follow his life through his conversion through his ministry and into his imprisonment in Rome. At his circumcision, he was given the Hebrew name of, “Saul.” At the appropriate age, his parents sent him off to Jerusalem to study the Law under he great Rabbi Gamaliel. It seems that Saul was a prodigy who had the attention of the leaders of the Jewish people.
We are introduced to Saul at the stoning of St. Stephen, the martyr, when Stephen accused the Sanhedrin, the council of Jewish religious leaders, of betraying God. In Acts 7, we find this, listen:

When they [the Sanhedrin] heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

At this point, the persecution of the followers of Jesus began and they were driven out of Jerusalem. Saul comes up again in Acts 8 & 9 and this is what is said of him;

“But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”

And again –

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

I suspect that if he were present in our day, he might be referred to as a religious terrorist.
However, Saul was not by any means uncultured or ignorant. He was educated in the best Roman and Jewish schools. He was fluent in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, at least. He debated philosophers in Greece, and he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, zealous for service to God.
That was Saul, before his conversion.

Continue reading

Why the Word made flesh

From “On The Incarnation” by Athanasius:
“You [Macarius] must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love an goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.”
I just wonder about the development of the concept of the Trinity of God. How much of our acceptance of God as Trinity today carries a stigma or the weight (wrong word?) of coming from the very difficult endeavor of attempting to explain and make palpable to a Hellenistic society then such a very strange idea of a god being made real but different within a human – a composite? – and how much of it is accurate in today’s way of thinking?
In common life, are we really tri-theists (the egg example)? Are we really modalists (the ‘man’ example – father, son, brother)? Does “Trinity” of hypostases and ousia explain anything, really? Or, do we just throw up our hands and say it is beyond us? I accept the doctrine of the Trinity because it is accepted in the common life of the Church, but it is easier for me to believe in a tri-theistic God of complete unity of purpose and relationship or in Modalism. (I am Trinitarian, just in case someone later in life wants to accuse me of being a heretic!)
(“It was mainly under the influence of the Cappadocian Fathers that the terminology was clarified and standardized, so that the formula “Three Hypostases in one Ousia” came to be everywhere accepted as an epitome of the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.” – Wikipedia)

If we all could wander like Luiz!

I am always impressed with Luiz Coelho’s posts on his weblog Wandering Christian. He isn’t political, he isn’t issue driven, he isn’t out to prove a point, he simply writes about God and his encounter with the things of God (with a few exceptions).
I am envious. My hope is that I just might be in that kind of place – that kind of insightful and that kind of humble.
Well, then there is my last post and my wish above is kind of blown out of the water.

What does it all mean…

How have fundamental assumptions of knowledge and truth been changed by the advent and development of the Internet, particularly the Web? We have to be cognoscente of the long-term changes that may be developing within younger people as the Web becomes an integral part of their lives and the primary vehicle in the search for information and truth.
If anyone can post a website and make truth claims no matter how “out there,” and if informational websites come and go, as so many do when the first link we use to find the site no longer works, how does that influence the developmental aspects of how we think about the accumulation of knowledge and the understanding of how to discern truth claims? A website claims “this is absolutely true,” above and beyond the “competition,” and then it is gone. Is the “truth” gone?
This may be a bit fare fetched, but the way the Web is so ingrained in the daily lives of people, especially younger people, it will eventually effect the way they perceive and understand information gathering and truth claims, and particularly with the ascendancy of Post-Modernism as the foundational worldview of young people.
Most young people no longer grow up within a family of faith, no matter what religion or pietistic practice. Either parents have an honest, but flawed in my opinion, intention of allowing their children to choose their own religion when they become adults or the parents are just too lazy to get them off to church, temple, mosque, or whatever house of worship, kids will begin to search for Truth and Meaning. Today, almost of their entire searching process is on the Web. They generally will not visit brick-and-mortar buildings and visiting small-groups is becoming less likely. If they are given no instruction at home or school in how to judge legitimate from illegitimate religious expression or true from false truth claims, the Web provides a vast plain of land mines just waiting for the kids.
The copious amounts of information on the Web is wonderful, but if we are not given the tools to enable us to effectively judge between truth claims and if we are not taught how to effectively navigate through it all, we are preparing a generation for mental/informational chaos. I’m not talking about making declarations that the information on this or that website is false, but the ability to discern and judge prudently, especially when forms of popular post-modernism yell that all points of view are of equal value and truth, all worldviews are accurate and acceptable, or all moral positions are worthy of consideration and respect.
Christian tradition claims that it is the only True religion – Jesus Christ is the only way to God, etc. If our primary assumptions negate such claims of absoluteness, and if knowledge is always shifting and appearing and disappearing, as it does on the Web, how will the Christian faith respond? What will be the anchor point for young people?
I’m just thinking about his stuff. It all is very unformed and unfinished, but still rolling around in my brain.

Need the money NOW

Listening to Morning Edition this yesterday morning, I heard an economics piece on what states are trying to do meet their budget requirements. Most states, unlike the federal government, are required to have balanced budgets year-in and year-out.
The report focused on states that are in the process of selling off their physical assets in order to need budget demands – they need the money NOW, as the reporter emphasized as he spoke of the Illinois plan to sell off its state lottery to private investors.
Several months ago, I heard similar reports about Indiana’s, Michigan’s, Illinois’, and Ohio’s plans to sell of such things as state toll-roads, turnpikes, and bridges – mostly large physical infrastructures. Now, I can understand that there are times when this may truly be advantages and prudent. I don’t think in these cases that we are in such times.
The reporter this yesterday morning said that the opposition in Illinois claims that a private group will do nothing but market the lottery more strongly and the end result will be greater harm for poor folk and those who are addicted to such things. (For some strange reason, I cannot use the “g” word with my host provider. Whenever I use the word for what people do in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I am given an error message and can’t post. How strange is that? It has taken me a whole day to figure why I couldn’t submit this post.) This kind of have may not result from the sell last year of Chicago’s Skyline bridge-highway system, but it does set up situations where either tolls will be charged or increased or maintenance will suffer because private firms are all about making a profit and not serving the public good. Okay, that’s fine, but when we talk about public works originally paid for by tax funds, there is an obligation of government to manage those projects well.
Selling off state assess because the legislature cannot discipline itself to arrange state budges to meet the basic needs, rather than pork-barrel projects or even niceties when the coffers are flush with money, has become the new M.O. in many states. This is obviously very shortsighted. But, when people are desperate and unwilling to make hard decisions, then what do we expect?
Decisions have to be made: Will the people hold government officials accountable so that they are wise and diligent in the allocation and spending of the people’s money? Will the people be willing to live with less and be inconvenienced more for a little more money in their pockets? Will the people and government be willing to take the long-term view of things? Will people be willing to allow for the further stratification of society – the rich becoming richer and able to afford whatever they want while the middle-class and poor continue to live with less and less? Will the people and government go back to believing in the public general welfare and be less obsessed with their own greed? Will the political parties stop crassly promising the world at no individual cost in order to win elections to gain more and more power for themselves? Will special interests be brought to account? Will people begin to act more altruistically and less selfishly? Will our elected officials make the hard and perhaps unpopular decisions for the benefit of future generations?
To be honest, I think we are at a point in this country where we will act positively to any of the above. It is easier to think in the short term and desperately sell off public assets rather than to answer in a positive direction to any of the above questions.
I’m not a pessimist, but I am becoming much more of a realists as time goes on. The Religious Right talks a lot about morals. They focus on sex and keeping for themselves what they feel is theirs. What about the issues of morality surrounding the Golden Rule, loving our neighbor as ourselves, even loving our enemy, and looking out for the welfare of the least of these? The Church looked far different as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles by Luke (the Book of Acts in the Bible) concerning the welfare of its members than it does now. They all sold everything they had and laid it at the apostles’ feet so that it could be distributed to all who had need! Personal greed and the fulfillment of personal want have replaced concern for the welfare of the least of these – the very people Jesus said will be the greatest.

Strange experiences

I won’t mention what happened in an Episcopal church down the road last Wednesday. I filled in for a the priest-in-charge, and, well, the experience was the stuff of all the nightmares a priest may have about making Eucharist come true and all rolled into one.
What do ya do? I just rolled with it. I’m sure the people, particularly the visiting English couple visiting their daughter, thought, “My Lord, is this what the American Church has come to???” Mass got said, God worked, and, well, it is over.
This is going to be a rambling post. I can tell already.
So, this past Sunday I said mass at Christ Church. They use the Anglican Service Book this time of year. The Anglican Service Book is all the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in Elizabethan language (except for Rite II, Prayer “C”). Everything sounds like Rite I. There are a lot of additional devotional stuff, too, which tends to make a bit more Anglo-Catholic – or just plain Catholic (that which is of the Western Church, which frankly is the Church of Rome).
First of all, I have never said a Rite II mass before, whether in contemporary language or old. This is such a strange experience for an Episcopal priest since Rite II is probably used in 98% of all parishes, with perhaps an early morning Rite I service in some places for the old folk. (Interesting, isn’t it, that the younger folk seem to like the older English. It is “church” or “spiritual” language, I’ve heard them say aplenty. Hummm. Of course, the Hip Hop Eucharist is also popular in certain quarters.) Anyway, this was my first time doing a Rite II mass.
I’ve always liked the Rite II canons. I do like the Elizabethan language, though. In my sponsoring parish back in Akron, I liked to go to the early morning Rite I. It is strange, too, I think, that so many Anglo-Catholic parishes still use Rite I. Rite II is far more Catholic and far less Reformed in its theology. The Rite II prayers come more from the Patristic period, and Rite I more from the medieval period – with a good bit of Reformed concepts and language thrown in for good measure.
Fr. Cullen says he uses Rite I because it is the more “modern” of the Eucharistic prayers, despite its Elizabethan language. Okay, I get it.
This past Sunday was also my first time celebrating on a “West-facing” or “free-standing” alter where I faced the people. I didn’t notice this at the time, but thinking about the experience yesterday afternoon I realized something. Since I’m used to not having eye contact with people while I’m consecrating, I remember not having any eye contact during the Words of Institution at Christ Church.
How much eye contact do priests actually have with the people during the consecration, anyway? I suspect that for those who know the prayers well it is a lot easier to look at the people at times more accommodating during the prayer. I read from the book. I elevated the elements and looked at them. Obviously, during the Sursum Corda and such places I looked at the people, but I do that when serving on an “East-facing” alter, anyway.
So, there you have it. A day of strange, but good, experiences. My first Rite II service (prayer B, from the Anglican Service Book), with other oddities included as part of their normal service structure. My first West-facing service. My first time celebrating in a different church.

Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

A quote from Peter J. Leithart, professor, pastor, Presbyterian.
Well??? Considering my Evangelical past and considering my present, I can agree with him!
Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

“Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls “pure relationship,” a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the rites and legalities of marriage, is a pure relationship. Evangelicalism tends to encourage a live-in relationship with Jesus.
This is wrong, a departure from Christian tradition, and unbiblical. It also places unbearable burdens on the soul. Tempted by the devil, Luther slapped his forehead to remind himself of his baptism. His standing before God was anchored in Christ, to whom he had been joined by baptism.
For evangelicals, assurance cannot be grounded in anything so external and objective. Spontaneous enthusiasm is the test of sincerity, and the source of assurance. But eternal, self-scrutinizing vigilance is necessary to ensure that the enthusiasm is really spontaneous.
Enthusiasm was supposed to liberate the soul from all the dead forms, but it comes with its own set of chains. “

Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 06:55 PM
via: Titusonenine

The City #9

I walked out of the Rectory this morning and onto Carroll St. and there it was, snow coving tree limbs, gates, banisters, cars, and it was wonderful. The snow was falling very lightly, almost done. The snow didn’t really accumulate on the sidewalks or streets, but just enough to give the streetscape a nice snowy, winter feel. The air was still, brisk but not cold. The sky was gray and the “air” was just a bit misty, but not really foggy. Anyway, it was very nice.
Getting out of the subway at 42nd St., I noticed how quiet the station seemed to be. I don’t think I ever remember that kind of quiet in such a busy station. No other trains were there at that moment. No sound of equipment humming or screeching, just still quite. The faint sound of the conductor’s voice announcing “the next stop is Rockefeller Center” could barely be heard. It was the kind of quite that in New York you only “hear” in large stone churches or when a heavy snow is falling.