Really open or rather flippant

These are just thoughts. I attended a memorial service/Eucharist yesterday. A non-Episcopalian asked about receiving communion, and I said that the Church teaches that all are welcome at the alter – non-baptized for a blessing and all baptized to receive the bread and wine. This is not on the politically-correct, popular side of things right now in this Church according to some who have been whelmed by “Open Communion.” (Sorry, but I’ve never been a part of the in-crowd that gives into “The Man” of political-correctness. I’ve seen too much and experienced too much hypocrisy in the academy and the Church to be there.)
Anyway, I well understand the desire to radically welcome people. Who doesn’t? Well, some don’t, I know. One of the first things people tell us when they come to St. Paul’s is how welcoming we are, yet communion is reserved for the baptized as the Canons stipulate and the Tradition teaches. If I go to a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jewish ceremony, I certainly do not expect to be considered just like those who have given themselves wholly to their faith and then ushered into or given their most sacred things. I’m a grown up. I understand things like that, and I respect them for it. I very much appreciate when they explain things to me and I can see in them the excitement or joy that their faith brings them. I am suspicious, however, if I am brought into or given such sacred things and wonder whether they really take their own sacred things very seriously. That’s just me.
Continuing on, here is what came to mind after yesterday’s service. I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about persecuted Christians and Anglicans around the world. Christians are still martyred for their faith in various parts of the world. They are still jailed, beaten, enslaved, deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To say that just anyone can come up and participate in one of the most significant and sacred activities the Church provides – reception of the very body and blood of our Lord – whether they understand what they are doing or not, take it seriously or not, or whether they may be a “notorious sinner” or not is an affront to those who die for being part of such a ritual.
What must those Christians think who have to clandestinely gather together in fear of persecution, who have to take the body and blood of our Lord in secret for fear or reprisal, who dare to own and read Bibles late at night when perhaps no one will notice, or if they confess they believe in Jesus they are disowned at best and killed at worst, what must they think when we “open-minded and liberated Westerners” haphazardly give the most precious and solemn part of the faith to anyone regardless of whether they believe, whether they have examined themselves, all in the name of not making someone FEEL BAD.
This is not “welcoming.” It is pandering. It is about a therapeutic “feel-goodism” that has overwhelmed all other considerations. What if Scripture is true when Paul tells us to examine ourselves before coming to the table, lest we heap condemnation upon ourselves? What if it is right interpretation when we are told to leave our offering aside while we go and reconcile with our neighbor before coming to the table? With “open communion,” one who is unknown to the communion and is full of hate and has little intention of reconciliation can come and take the same body and blood as the person who will die for taking the same . Are we really this self-centered as a nation, as a people, and as a Church? Are we really more concerned about someone perhaps feeling bad than whether they may be heaping condemnation upon themselves for doing something so lightly? We have become juveniles.
I’ve knowingly given communion to the unbaptized for pastoral reasons. I knew them, came to find our they weren’t baptized after the fact, sat down and explained what they were taking upon themselves when they received, and that they should consider baptized. I continued giving them communion during the process, but soon they decided on their own to come to the alter and cross their arms to receive a blessing rather than the body and blood of our Lord. They decided that they wanted to pursue baptism, seriously. And when they received once again after their baptism, they talked about the different and tremendous significance it held for them.
We Americans have lost perspective in so many aspects of life and culture. I think this is due to our cultural isolationism and arrogance, our profound lack of knowledge and understanding of the rest of the world, our never really learning or caring about history, and our hyper-individualistic selfishness. They are right, those that pity us because of our deficient experience and understanding of the God and His provision! They have a right to be angry and disappointed with us because we are so flippant with our Holy sacraments and rites, after they are persecuted and killed for the same which they hold to be so precious.

Airline tactics

As I was waking up this morning, I listened to NPR news and they reported that American Airlines was now going to charge $15.00 to check a single piece of luggage. This makes a difference because I am trying to find a flight for my nephew to come and visit me this summer. According to the report, AA is adding the surcharge due to the cost of fuel. Market forces will make it so they have to raise prices, but…
I understand why the airlines don’t simply raise the base price of their tickets – after all, when using Travelocity, Orbits, etc., most people look for the lowest price rather than the final price. Yet, at some point the add-on charges will get ridiculous.
So, here is what I think a “bill” for an airline ticket will look like next year:
Cleveland to New York on a big airline:
Ticket Price: $300.00 (Okay, decent price!)
Fuel fee: $20.00 (to cover the increased cost)
Luggage fee: $15.00 per piece of checked luggage
Carry-on fee: $10.00 per additional carry-on luggage after the first piece
Walk-on fee: $5.00 (after all, all those feet walking wear out the carpet)
Pilot fee: $15.00 (unions, you know)
Stewart fee: $ 5.00 (see above)
Poundage fee: $2.00 (for every pound a passenger is over 200 pounds – additional thrust needed for take-off, more fuel needed, etc.)
Convenience fee: $10.00 (it’s a lot more convenient flying than driving, or an airline fee to pay for the inconvenience of having to deal with passengers)
Safety fee: $10.00 (having the stewards read the escape plan and a seat cushion life-preserver provided in case of a crash)
Insurance fee: $25.00 (to cover the cost of having to defend themselves when passengers sue the airline.)
Inspection fee: $20.00 (making sure there are no wire short circuits or fuselage cracks costs a lot of money – unions, again, and the pesky government)
The final airline price is: $445.00 (Doesn’t $300.00 look so much better when trying to find a cheap flight?)
Oops, I forgot Food & Beverage fee: $5.00 drinks; $15.00 booze; $3.00 peanuts; $20.00 meal. (Paid by cash only on the plane.)
Add to that, a fee for a headset if you want to watch movies or listen to music: $10.00 (and you even have to turn it in at the end of the flight, else you can’t get off the plane! There could be an exit fee somewhere in the future, too.)
Pillows and blankets are still for free! For now…
Of course, then one must add the airport fees, landing right fees, city, county, state, and federal taxes.