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To Set Our Hope on Christ study guide released — free!

The Windsor Report invited the Episcopal Church to continue discussion by sharing the theological groundwork that led to our General Convention's consent to the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay and partnered man, as Bishop of New Hampshire, and acknowledging the blessing of same-sex couples as taking place “within the bounds of our common life” (NOT authorizing rites, though some people find it hard to get the distinction). Part of the Episcopal Church's sharing groundwork in response to the Windsor Report included the release some time ago of To Set Our Hope on Christ, an excellent and relatively brief (hey, the authors are mostly academic theologians ... it could have been the weight of a volume like this!) overview of issues in theology, biblical studies, and ecclesiology involved in the Episcopal Church's decisions in these areas and the information that helped us decide as we did.

And perhaps the best thing about To Set Our Hope on Christ was that it was made available for download from the Internet for free. You can get it for free here, or purchase bound copies from here if you want them. And there was much rejoicing (picture cheering and jumping animated figures from Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail here).

But To Set Our Hope on Christ didn't have any kind of a study guide, and so a lot of folks who otherwise might have read it, had they been encouraged to do so in small groups in their parish, didn't. And so a group of folks who thought this was a darn shame commissioned me to write one, and I did.

And that study guide is now available — for free — for anyone who wants to use it. You can download it here. I hope you find it useful, and I hope it encourages a lot more people to get together with others to learn from one another and explore open questions. To Set Our Hope on Christ provides fertile soil for that, and my hope is that the study guide makes it that much easier for congregations to benefit. And to answer two frequently asked questions right off the bat:

Yes, the study guide does make use of at least one U2 song.
And no, you don't have to use that part. :)



November 28, 2005 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Have any of y'all ever used Tinderbox or something similar? I'm trying to find ways to organize the tons of information I need to stay on top of the The Witness and other projects I've got going. For most things in my life requiring organization, I use electronic rather than hard-copy ways of managing information. That way, I have just about all of my information everywhere I go (though I now carry around an 80MB external hard drive to supplement the 80 MB internal hard drive in my PowerBook). Perhaps more importantly, I find that information stored electronically is much easier to search. That's crucial when you've got a mind that works like mine. I can usually think of at least a dozen ways of looking at any given thing, which is great for things like writing software manuals (I can figure out in an instant a dozen ways that readers are likely to look in the index for a given piece of information) and coaching people in conflict (I can usually grasp the points of view of most people involved, plus a few additional points of view that might make a decent “third way” for the group to move forward. But that's a really inconvenient way to think when what you're trying to do is set up or find something in a filing system.

So, right now, I'm using a system to track contributions and potential contributions to The Witness that I developed when I was editing a newsmagazine in college: the BAWaB (pronounced “bah-wab”), or “Big-Ass White Board.” There are columns for article topics, author assigned, due date, date the reminder should be sent to the author, publication date, and so on; when all the columns have been filled in for a given row, the row can be erased, as I've done everything with it that needs doing. It works. But honestly, I'm not sure I've got enough wall space for all of the articles I'm tracking, and I only have access to the BAWaB when I'm in my office — if I need that information while I'm traveling to a guest preaching gig or somesuch, that's hard luck.

Tinderbox looks like something that could be used as a technological BAWaB, and probably way more than that. It also looks like it might be difficult to learn, so I'd love to hear about your experiences with it or similar programs.

I'd also love to know about any Mac OSX-compatible programs for contact management and calendaring programs that you use. I used Now Contact and Up-To-Date happily for years, but then a horrible glitch arose: something went wrong with synchronizing my Palm Pilot with the Now programs, and my To-Do list items multiplied — dozens of times or more for each item — and now I've got over 21,000 items in the list, and no way to get rid of them except delete them one by one. Understandably, I think I might want to get a new application. Apple's iCal and Address Book are fine for the very basics, but what I loved about the Now programs is that I could enter notes as long as I wanted for every meeting, every phone call, and in loads of other fields. When I was trying to remember who the parishioner was who did graphic design and asked me that question about the book of Revelation, I could pull the information up in thirty seconds or less. I could also link contact information with appointment information, so when the reminder to call someone came up, so did my history of conversations with that person — a very, very handy thing! Address Book and iCal just don't do all of that. Entourage isn't quite as powerful either, and furthermore, I switched from that a few years back when someone sent me an email bomb exploiting a well-known security hole in Microsoft's software and it erased all of my email and contacts.

So, what's a gal to use? What do you use for this sort of thing? I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

November 18, 2005 in Technology | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

it's been a while ...

I haven't been posting much here, and I'm even further behind on the Anglican news digest. I've got news to share, though, and I'd like to get back to posting regularly here as well as on my other pages.

First off, I'm pleased to say that I've accepted a new job. I am editor of The Witness magazine. The Witness has been around since 1917 as an Anglican voice for justice, I've admired their work for years, and I think their mission is of particular importance at this historical moment, so I'm both honored and energized to be joining them. There was some gap between editors, so it's going to take a while before I hit my full stride and post content as frequently as I'd like to see it going up, but I'm already posting new articles from both regular and new contributors to The Witness, and I encourage you to check it out. (If any of y'all happen to be photographers or writers interested in contributing please do feel free to contact me too!)

The new gig is part-time. The difficulty of part-time work is that I still don't have benefits. I'm trying to figure out what to do for heal care, since I can't afford to continue the COBRA coverage from my last job, and that's very stressful. I'll probably end up switching to a health plan with a deductible of multiple thousands of dollars, so it will help if (God forbid) I develop some major medical condition or have a massive car accident or something, but it will be no help at all if I get the flu, a sinus infection, or some other condition that would benefit greatly from medical treatment, but isn't immediately threatening to life or limb. This is a downer.

The lovely thing about part-time work — especially when I'm doing it from home — is that I'm still free to take the next good thing that comes up, whether that's guest preaching, teaching, or consulting in a parish or, should an opportunity come up that's OK with my bishop, an ongoing parish, chaplaincy, or seminary gig. I also really ought to file my dissertation, I've got two partially written books going, and now that I'm in my third year of blogging the lectionary, I'm wondering whether I ought to revise and supplement what I'm doing to produce three handy one-volume preachers' commentaries on the lectionary.

Sadly, though, a little over a month ago my ordination process hit a huge snag that could delay me for several years. This is a massive downer. I miss working in a parish. I miss preaching regularly. And it's harder to produce focused reflections in the lectionary blog without day-to-day pastoral interactions with which I can bring my thoughts on scripture for dialogue. I've been in various discernment processes or waiting periods for almost ten years now, and it's a huge blow to think it could be a few more years left to go (not to mention many, many thousands of dollars more in expenses, which are hard to meet when one isn't working full time, the washing machine just broke and needs replacing NOW, and our home heating system really ought to be replaced to the tune of five thousand dollars or so). I'd appreciate your prayers.

I've really been encouraged, though, by opportunities I've had to get to know more about more of the folks who read this site, mostly through the SarahLaughed.net online map, where over 250 readers thus far (so many that you have to click on a little link at the bottom of the map to show them all!) have posted a pin to show where they are in the world and a brief “shout-out” to say hello. I also have much appreciated emails I've received from readers sharing their own ideas and a little bit about how they've used the site and what it's meant to them. I really am an extrovert, and at a point when my day-to-day work doesn't involve face-to-face interactions with other people, it's been nice to picture the faces of people with whom my work brings me into contact. When I feel isolated, it's lovely to click on a map and see all of those pins or open the email folder I keep with the title “encouraging words,” and see just what kind of relationships are developing here in cyberspace. I'd love one of these days to add more features for y'all to interact with one another here too -- something like what Real Live Preacher (an amazing writer and a good friend) has done with his expanded site. I'm glad to hear that folks have liked listening to podcasts of the lectionary blog, where you can hear my voice with your ears rather than only by my tone in writing, and it would be wonderful to find ways to bring that kind of personal touch to relationships between readers.

So thanks for your messages, your “shout outs,” and most of all, your prayers. These are rough times, but I'm glad to have this corner of cyberspace that makes me feel like I am helping to further the mission of the church even if I can't now do all of what I feel called to do.



November 18, 2005 in Personal News | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Dylan needs ...

A meme making its way around the Internet, with a tip o' th' hat to Kathyrn: you Google your name and the word "needs," and blog the top ten hits that come up. So, according to Google, this is what Dylan needs:

  1. Dylan needs to go to the bathroom
  2. Dylan needs to speak out
  3. Dylan needs a black woman
  4. Dylan needs to be able to move to complete creative potential
  5. Dylan needs a way to specify output formats for floats
  6. Dylan needs rescuing
  7. Dylan needs Tyr
  8. Dylan needs some friends
  9. Dylan needs a Pulitzer Prize
  10. Dylan needs to go on tour

Oh, the things one learns from Google!

November 9, 2005 in Silliness | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

where are you?

Probably my favorite thing about doing this website is hearing from you folks all over the world about who you are, what your ministries are like, and what all of this stuff on SarahLaughed.net has meant to you. I'm meeting people from all over the world -- every continent except Antarctica -- and I love it. I love anything that gives me more of a sense of who you are and where you're coming from.

And then I came across this cool thing via the Feminarian. It's a world map online, and folks can enter their zip or postal code to show where they are. I can see it having a variety of uses, but here's one: we can see where folks who use SarahLaughed.net are in 'realspace.'

So here's the SarahLaughed.net Frappr map. If you stop by and enter your name (or online handle -it doesn't have to be a real name or a full name) and zip or postal code (you can also post a graphic or photo if you want), a virtual pin goes up on the map. That's it! You don't need to submit an email address or anything, and nobody will spam you. Please consider stopping by!



November 3, 2005 in Just for Fun | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack