a most serious matter facing General Convention
I face a great dilimma at General Convention this year, and I hope via this blog to conduct a churchwide conversation to assist discernment.
As some of you know, at last GC I borrowed a travel electric guitar and performed a composition with original lyrics. The song's title was "I Will Survive (General Convention)." I am told that it was most inspiring. I can only thank our Creator and the angels for working through me to encourage the saints in this way.
I have been asked to do at least one other such song at this convention. Thus far, contenders include:
- "(You Say You Want a) Resolution"
- "Changes" (to the tune of David Bowie's great song; this one would have to be about TEC structure)
- "Episcopalians" (to the tune of Bowie's "Young Americans")
- "The Ones Who Sold the Church" (to the Bowie/Nirvana tune -- I think this one's probably too edgy)
- "Smells Like [something -- Sweet Incense?]" (I'm clearly on a Nirvana kick)
- "Tridium" (to the tune of Nirvana's "Lithium")
- "500 Miles" (the Proclaimers' song on the Shrek soundtrack -- a tribute to how much we have to walk at GC)
My instrument this year is a "mandobird" -- an electric mandolin designed like a Gibson Firebird guitar:
... and the mandolin is a particularly appropriate instrument for when I sing the Indigo Girls "Ozilline" as a tribute to Miss Lydia Wilkins of Pasadena, CA, who died two months' short of her 107th birthday in 2010 -- and who I can say from personal witness looked WAY better in my black leather motorcycle jacket than I did. My love to the whole Tatum-Harris clan.
But for the General Convention song(s), do any of the above stand out? Any other suggestions? I can easily make the mandobird sound like an electric guitar with effects, so the possibilities are staggering. Since I've only played mandolin for a few weeks, though, it probably should be too musically complex. (I told my committee chairs that our music for worship could not, unfortunately, include St. Patrick's Breastplate.)
online rally to restore Anglican sanity and/or comprehensiveness
I was disappointed not to be able to attend Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. last week, so please indulge me:
Let's have an online Rally to Restore Anglican Sanity and/or Comprehensiveness!
The person who submits the best slogans for a rally sign will see their creations available for sale in the SarahLaughed Cafe Press store to benefit the Haiti Solidarity Initiative! Woo hoo!
I'll start with some Stewart-inspired possibilities:
- You annoy me, but I'm pretty sure you're not Satan
- Our disagreement doesn't make you a heretic
- I break (bread) for conservatives [over a rainbow flag?]
- I break (bread) for LGBT people [over a conservative logo of some kind]
- I'm only marching out of the convention to go to the pub
- It's mission, not fission [that may be too obscure, or too annoying for physicists]
- The person who advocates schism says "I'm an asshat" twice [for irreverent Augustine fans]
- Bored with belligerence
OK, people -- go wild! What banner would you wave?
For those of you who are going to church conventions or meetings you fear will be boring beyond your worst fears ... for those of you dreading that final seminary paper ... for those of you who have lost motivation to write that sermon ... and of course, for those of you taking GOEs soon, never fear:
I have heard your cries!
Yes, all of these experiences can be taken with all the gravity that they're worth, and then some, while also providing a fun challenge to your own and your colleagues' wits.
Just download these bingo cards! You can play that whoever hears a word on her or his card may cross it off, but I think a special prize should go to anyone who actually USES all of the words in a row, column, or diagonal in a single motion or speech.
Please let me know about any winners you come across, and happy playing! (Also let me know if you want me to provide you cards with a different heading and/or for a different context.)
seminary headline for the times
From the BBC comes this headline:
EDS shares up on HP buyout report
The snippet of the article in my RSS reader says:
"Shares in EDS rise by 28% on reports that it is close to being taken over by Hewlett-Packard."
And you know, I actually did a double-take before I realized it wasn't about my seminary.
Now I'm picturing seminary alumnae having to sew patches on their albs, stoles, and chasubles advertising the corporations that bought out their alma mater, and perhaps a little ticker-tape below webcam broadcasts from the chapel: "Hebrew bible reading brought to you courtesy of Staples, Inc. -- keeping parish offices together since 1974."
But no -- seminaries are too small a market for the likes of HP and Staples, I'd guess.
isn't technology amazing?
They've upgraded the computers in the EDS lab, and the results are amazing! (Click on the image for a full-sized version.)
(P.S. -- if you want to generate error messages of your own, you can do so at this page.)
I've embarked on a new lifestyle, inspired by none other than Greg Griffith.
You see, Griffith's abilities in the field of frozen desserts are legendary. Rumor has it that SFiF, the name of the site he built, stood originally for "Sorbets: Fruity (if Frozen)," and calling the site "Stand Firm in Faith" instead was an afterthought.
Sure, he pretended it was all just friendly conversation, that casual allusion to the fabulous watermelon sorbet he'd whipped up that week merely a remark on the summer climate in Mississippi. But those brief allusions became mocking, tormenting, as they echoed through my mind for days afterward. I wanted to experience that frozen goodness.
I'd tried many times to build a healthy lifestyle including homemade frozen desserts. I've abstained almost entirely from cake for years; dry cake was just mocking the lack of decent ice cream in my culinary repertoire. I tried -- believe me, I tried -- with a Cuisinart ice cream maker that people said was perfectly good, but my sorbets in particular found no state in between "ice brick" and "fruit soup." Finally, I started thinking, "maybe I'm just not a dessert person."
And then I realized that perhaps I just hadn't met the right ice cream maker yet. I bought that KitchenAid Pro mixer I blogged about earlier. It's got a lovely, 475-watt motor. I bought the ice cream maker attachment. And I made my first batch of ice cream -- sugar-free coffee ice cream made with cold-brewed Toddy coffee concentrate, and with fair trade 70% dark chocolate-coated cacao nibs from Sweetriot in it just for added decadence. I made it less sweet than coffee ice cream usually is, with a little less fat and with rather more intense coffee flavor. And it was very, very good.
So once more I have SFiF (we know what those letters really stand for) to thank for a valuable service to the community. I've discovered a part of myself that I thought was gone, but was merely dormant:
I am a dessert person! Next week, I think I'll try making mango-mint sorbet.
What Not To Say on the GOEs, Part I: Church History
An imaginary exploration of what the world's worst student might say in the General Ordination Exams ...
Describe the Elizabethan Settlement. How was it reached, and what was its importance for Anglicanism?
The Elizabethan Settlement resulted from a complicated and highly politicized series of negotiations; it sprang from a surprising turn of events; it inaugurated lasting consequences in the intricate web of relationships of its major actors; and in the process it played a profound role in shaping Anglicanism, and arguably the whole of the Church in the eyes of the West.
The Elizabethan Settlement occurred when both Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench were nominated for American Academy Awards in 1998 for their portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I. Blanchett in Elizabeth got to bed Joseph Fiennes, who was very much a hottie back then. However, it was Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of a truly virginal Virgin Queen in Shakespeare in Love, made in the same year, that won the Oscar, though in Shakespeare in Love the prize of a night with Joseph Fiennes went to Gwynneth Paltrow. The consequences of the Elizabethan Settlement were profound for all involved. Cate Blanchett’s career has arguably been mostly downhill from there, while Judi Dench not only nabbed the Oscar, but went on to snag even more enviable roles, such as that scheming lesbian hag in Notes on a Scandal in 2006. Cate Blanchett appeared in that film too, of course, but she pretty much got stuck making cow eyes and shocked expressions while Dench stole the film. Arguably, it was the Elizabethan Settlement that led to Dench's resurgence in the consciousness of the American filmgoing public, resulting in, among other things, her winning the role of “M” in the Bond films, which must have been incredibly lucrative, and yet required little more than perfunctory clock-punching from such an accomplished thespian.
The role of politics in the Elizabethan Settlement cannot be denied; Miramax Studios responded to previous Oscar snubs against non-American films and actors with a major publicity push in Variety and in direct-mail campaigns to Academy members urging them to vote for Dench despite her very limited screen time, and although Dench's long and distinguished career certainly deserves recognition, everybody said she pretty much got the Oscar out of sympathy. Frankly, I felt sympathy for her because, unlike the other actors involved in the Elizabethan Settlement, she got pretty much no action as well as very few lines. In this sense, perhaps it could be said that Dench's gains in the Elizabethan Settlement were a triumph for traditional sexual morality.
I would argue, however, that time has proven the real winner of the Elizabethan Settlement to be Gwynneth Paltrow — ironically, since she didn’t actually play Elizabeth. She not only won an Oscar for leading actress, but she also got to roll around with Joseph Fiennes at his peak. The Elizabethan Settlement gave her the respect of critics that has allowed her both to essentially phone in every performance since then and, more importantly, enough “it-factor” eventually to bag Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, who is every bit as talented as Bono — I don’t care what anyone else says about that — and has a far cuter butt and slimmer waistline. (Than Bono has, I mean. Bono’s charismatic, to be sure, but I don’t think either he or Chris Martin has anywhere near as shapely a posterior as Gynneth Paltrow. I have no idea how she manages maintaining that with kids and all — my butt went cottage-cheesy right after my eldest was born, and no amount of time on the elliptical trainer since has managed to get it back into shape. But I digress. Oh geez — I didn’t mean that last sentence to be a pun or anything.)
Why Gwynneth Paltrow went on after achieving such dizzying heights to give her kids weird-ass names like “Apple” is anyone’s guess. However, the most important consequences of the Elizabethan Settlement go beyond individual actors’ careers and their on- and off-screen romances to shape gender politics as well as the Reformation, and with it the character of Western Christianity itself. In the Elizabethan Settlement Joseph Fiennes — the real loser of the Settlement, if you ask me — wasn’t even NOMINATED for an Oscar. Furthermore, his best-known role since then was as Martin Luther in a fairly decent film that, lacking the major studio backing of both Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love, never really garnered much attention even though the studio tried marketing it to the fundie crowd. In my opinion, it’s an underrated film, but nevertheless the younger Fiennes essentially hasn’t been heard from since then. Some say that his receding hairline is largely responsible for his ebbing career, but the show biz success and (at least to a certain crowd) sex-symbol status of such follically challenged luminaries as Patrick Stewart and U2’s The Edge suggests another explanation, and in the perspective of many, it’s that the Elizabethan Settlement, and particularly the controversy over dench’s winning an Oscar, seized the public eye for the Elizabethan women in critical, popular, and even business terms such that none of the guys could get anything out of it even though it was really Fiennes’ rakish charm, in my opinion, that made so many women willing to pony up to see yet another movie suggesting that a woman can’t be successful in her career without acting like a man and/or wearing ridiculous amounts of makeup.
And thus, in a remarkable series of coincidences, the Elizabethan Settlement — particularly in light of its long-term repercussions for the actors involved — achieved what many thought was impossible. It made Anglicans, and by extension Anglicanism, seem very sexy indeed in the late 1990s and early years of the new millennium — sexier even than Joseph Fiennes’ dark, smoldering eyes and theological bad-boy demeanor could make Martin Luther. The effect of the Elizabethan Settlement on the career of Coldplay has yet to be seen, but if their performance at Live 8 — particularly in their triumphant rendition of “Bittersweet Symphony” — is any indication, it may be that in the long run, the Elizabethan Settlement will advance the cause of at least one man involved almost as much as of the women.
I have recently been kayaking, and I love it! I love it so much, indeed, that I want to buy a tandem kayak or two one-person kayaks so my honey and I can go kayaking together often. We are not particularly interested in whitewater kayaking, but wants something that we could use for ocean touring as well as freshwater paddling about.
Dear Readers, do you have any advice for us with respect to kayak-shopping?
10 least popular memory verses for Sunday school
- "You will vomit up the little you have eaten, and you will waste your pleasant words" (Proverbs 23:8).
- "Happy shall be they who take your little ones / and dash them against the rock!" (Psalm 137:9)
- "Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection" (James 4:9).
- "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).
- "... with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in both hands, and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death." (2 Maccabees 14:46 -- it's from the Apocrypha, but hey, that's useful for teaching, right?)
- "Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you" (James 5:1).
- "I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!" (Galatians 5:12)
- "They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken." (1 Kings 22:38)
- "If you are overstuffed with food, get up to vomit, and you will have relief" (Ecclesiasticus 31:21 -- another inspirational gem from the Apocrypha)
- "A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead." (Acts 20:9 -- and let that be a lesson to preachers who go on too long!)
You could even make some inspirational posters by taking a suitable photo, pairing it with one of these verses, and making use of this create-your-own-motivational-poster site. And yes, I live to serve.
top 10 rejected alternative worship themes
A lot of people have been asking me, as instigator of the first U2charist (held in Baltimore, Maryland in April of 2004) what other liturgical developments are in the pike. What I can say is that, having carefully pondered cultural and liturgical trends, I've decided that the Next Big Thing is most definitely NOT:
- The Kazoocharist -- in which the service music is led entirely by 30 people playing kazoos.
- The Magoocharist -- which would have been gravely insulting to blind people.
- The "I Melt With You"charist -- which may have been well-received by those from my generation who are lovers of one-hit pop wonders. Sadly, I could find no theological justification for such a service, and even those from my high school graduating class couldn't stand singing it ten times in a single hour.
- The "Chattanooga Choo-Choo"charist -- for lovers of 40's jazz and railway enthusiasts.
- The R2D2charist and Naboocharist -- for lovers of the Star Wars film franchise.
- The ShihTzucharist -- for lovers of expensive and diminutive dogs, in honor of which the altar party would wear their hair tied up with a ribbons on the tops of their heads
- The HoodooGurucharist -- for lovers of obscure alternative Australian rock.
- The Dewcharist -- a service for computer coders in which Mountain Dew would replace the sherry or port normally used; rejected when no one could figure out whether a Twinkie was or could ever be 'bread.'
- The Moocharist -- in which chocolate milk would replace the port or sherry to appeal more to children.
- The Booboocharist -- for fans of the diminutive animated bear of Jellystone Park.
What I CAN say with some authority is that I will be preaching at the U2charist -- held to the glory of God and to inspire deeper engagement with God's mission to end extreme poverty -- in the Diocese of Michigan on Saturday, June 16, at 4:30 p.m. More details forthcoming!