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+Katharine Jefferts Schori on the Diane Rehm Show

For those of you who missed hearing Presiding Bishop-elect +Katharine Jefferts Schori on the Diane Rehm Show this morning, and especially for those who have connections that don't work very well for streaming media, I've created an MP3 file of it (without station breaks and such). I probably won't be able to keep it posted very long; when I was podcasting, I reached my monthly bandwidth limit very quickly, so I'll probably take the file down again pretty soon. It's 36.4 MB, which is still nothing to sneeze at for this with dialup, but that's the smallest I could get it.

Enjoy (while it lasts, anyway)!

Click to download the MP3 file, which should be playable in iTunes (it's free!) and any number of other free MP3 music players.

June 29, 2006 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

in shocking news, sensible word issued about proposed covenant

Anyone who's had their anxieties and/or blood pressure raised by recent press proclaiming the proposed Anglican Covenant process to be a means of excluding the theologically impure should check out this shining example of good sense from the Anglican Church of New Zealand (the more I hear from these folks, the more I want to visit there someday). It's appropriately titled, "Ultimatum? What Ultimatum?"

June 29, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

brilliant column in The Guardian; discerning God's will

Andrew Brown has an idea that, if true, could explain a lot:

"The archbishop, we can only deduce, is a humanist mole."

Here's an alternative explanation, though:

The archbishop has fallen to a condition I've seen a lot of recently. A person really believes all this Philippians 2 stuff, to the point where s/he will actually strive to live it out. It costs friends dearly, as Brown has pointed out is the case for the archbishop. This would cost a conscientious person (this is a condition to which the conscientious are particularly prone), a great deal -- s/he loses many friends and a great deal of sleep. S/he's miserable. The more s/he suffers criticism, the more miserable s/he is -- and what better evidence could s/he have that what he's doing is really, really righteous? "This isn't a selfish act, you idiot -- can't you see how miserable it's making me?"

All of this scratches a great, deep itch among white liberals. It allows white liberals to act as if the whole world were about their feelings, while feeling more self-consciously humble (yep, it's possible!) and righteously vindicated with every bit of criticism that anyone could anticipate the liberal's behavior would attract. I make others miserable; seeing them in pain makes me more miserable; some of them get angry; I get more miserable; I make others more miserable. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Repeat until you get sick of it, anyway. I got sick of it years ago.

The fruit of the Spirit is not self-conscious misery that gets more self-righteous with every bit of extra attention it gets. Last time I checked, the fruit of the Spirit was love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That might sound to Western ears merely like a different set of feelings than the spiral of private and shared misery above, but it isn't so: these aren't internal emotional states so much as descriptions of relationships of a certain character -- much as what Paul calls "works of the flesh" describe relationships of a different character. In other words:

It's not all about me. Or you.

My feeling warm fuzzies is no better an indication than my feeling spiral-of-misery stuff that what I'm doing is God's will. It's much more complicated than that. I think our Presiding Bishop-elect is on to something when she points to the passages from Isaiah that Jesus identifies in Luke 4 as his "mission statement"; we might do well to think of God's will as bringing Good News to the poor, release to the prisoners, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and "the year of the Lord's favor," when all of this is realized. If what we're proposing doesn't do that, and even more if it actually runs counter to that, our claim that it's God's will has got to be weaker. And then there's the Galatians 5 rubric Paul proposes and I raised earlier. Passages about what builds up the Body of Christ are going to be key as well. There's a wealth of material in scripture that ought to play a role in our wrestling with all this together, and pretty much all of them have something in common:

They say that God's will is something we discern and strive to live into together.

So I'm just as suspicious of the isolating angst I'm seeing so much of as I am about the "if it itches, scratch it" mentality I've seen in other places and times. I'm suspicious of people who talk a great deal about the importance of listening and submitting to people they've never met without seeking to meet and listen to them at length -- not just on whatever the hot-button issues of the moment are. I wonder whether people like that are using those to whom they're supposedly "listening" as a blank slate upon which they can project whatever suits them. I'm suspicious of people who crudely stereotype those they claim to love. Most people don't fall wholly into one category or another. It's complicated.

That's why I'm also suspicious of calls for "clarity" -- especially when it doesn't seem to be tempered by calls for compassion -- much as I'm suspicious of calls for "compassion" from privileged people who suggest that the only compassionate thing to do happens to preserve or augment their positions of privilege.

In my own spiritual life for the past seven years or so, I've felt called to work on the Benedictine discipline of 'stability,' of staying put unless and until I felt called over a significant to move in a specific direction. It's an important balance to my Franciscan temperament, but I think the Franciscan tradition has an emphasis that's important to remember at this moment in the life of the church:

The first will be last, and the last will be first. That's not a one time chair-swap; it's the ongoing way of things in God's kingdom, as the strong use their strength only to empower the weak, and the weak become strong are called to do the same. The question facing the church is not, as some would have it, "should we change?"; it is, "how can we change to become more responsive to the Good News?" Answers to that question will not be consistently "progressive" in the secular political sense, and the dynamic nature of God's rule according to scripture (in contrast to the platonic view that God is an "unmoved mover" maintaining everything in its single proper place) means that fidelity to scripture effectively rules out stasis. Anyone who's "conservative" in the sense of conserving the privilege of the privileged will be disappointed by what God is doing in the world.

In other words, I think we all ought to be prepared to be surprised by joy, grace and peace, and new life -- and we to experience it in its fullness, we'll need to stay in conversation about where God is leading us.

June 29, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

true confessions

I confess that when it was announced that Rowan Williams would be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, I was over the moon. I hadn't noticed yet that when it came to matters like whom I'd like to see in a particularly important position, I tend to lapse into the kind of thinking that in dating relationships I call "the most attractive person in the room is the person closest to the opposite of my ex."

I was pleased when it was announced that George Carey would be the next ABC because he favored the ordination of women, and the then-current ABC did not. Then I had years to start getting annoyed with +Carey's anti-intellectual tendencies, conservatism, and distrust of contemporary culture.

When Rowan Williams' name was announced as that of the next ABC, I was thrilled: He's progressive! He *gets* The Simpsons! He's a brilliant academic!

And then I realized that "brilliant" doesn't always translate to "brilliant communicator" -- let alone "brilliant at negotiating church politics."

I just read an article in the Times entitled "Beware the folly of clever men in power." It's harsh. And as someone known as a thinker, it made me shudder a bit.

I'm in the midst of some serious vocation discernment. Just about everyone who's known me for any length of time has thought I'm called to the priesthood, but being in seminary again should give me a chance to think and pray and listen about what kind of priestly ministry might be my vocation -- in the next leg of my journey at least. It's probably key information in that discernment that something I do well -- maybe the thing I do best -- is think. But I'm really not interested in being recognized by some small group of people as being a god or even a great thinker.

What I want to do more than anything else is make a difference in the world. I care about things like global poverty and church unity. I also care about people in my congregation -- where I work when I work in a congregation, where I worship, where I preach and teach, where I live and drink coffee, and in the various cybercommunities in which I participate.

My nightmare is to be really good at seeing Good News for our world and to be about as effective at helping communities to give it flesh as I would be if I scribbled it on cocktail napkins that I buried in the garden. I don't know if I'll ever be a good administrator (I'm at least good enough to hire people who are good at it and give them what they need to do a good job), but I hope at least I'm a good enough communicator to be able to make a difference.

Here's what the Times said in its "tale of two great thinkers/lousy leaders":

They are decent, scholarly and well intentioned. One quickly established himself as The Guardian’s favourite policeman. The other is that same newspaper’s preferred clergyman. Yet the brutal and harsh truth is that both have failed in office. Why? It seems to me that they share two traits.

The first is an inability to communicate in a fashion that others find comprehensible.

This, for example, is Dr Williams discussing God in a recent address. “We need, not human words that will decisively capture what the Word of God has done and is doing, but words that will show us how much time we have to take in fathoming this reality, helping us turn and move and see, from what may be infinitesimally different perspectives, the patterns of light and shadow in a world where the Word’s light has been made manifest.” Er, yes, I suppose. ...

The second trait is an inability to distinguish between having admirers and winning allies. There are plenty of politicians, journalists and other commentators who esteem Sir Ian greatly. They are not, nevertheless, a substitute for the support of police officers. It is fair to say that his predecessor, Sir John Stevens, was never the darling of the chattering classes. His personal standing was somewhat higher, though, where it counted — in the police canteen.

Dr Williams is similarly fêted by those who have read his numerous books about the Almighty. This matters less than the unfortunate reality that he is viewed as weak and inconsistent by factions that threaten to tear the Church asunder.

June 25, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs, Life and Whatnot | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

excellent blog!

Check out Mad Priest's "Of course, I could be wrong ..."

I especially like his recent comments related to GC2006 here and here (especially that second one).

June 23, 2006 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (0)

excellent blog!

Check out Mad Priest's "Of course, I could be wrong ..."

I especially like his recent comments related to GC2006 here and here (especially that second one).

June 23, 2006 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (1)

news flash: Witness editor and noted conservative couldn't agree more

From Kendall Harmon's blog "TitusOneNine:

I saw one bishop this morning who looked terrible and when I asked how he was doing he said “horrible, I was up all last night throwing up.” Another bishop who looked tuckered out said he was looking forward to seeing his golf clubs for the first time in a long while. You already saw my post below about my walking into two restroom closets and leaving my computer back in my hotel room this morning.

People with eyes like road maps who are stressed beyond measure do not think clearly. Something is very wrong with a decision making process that does that to people. Something is even more wrong with a process like that that tries to make its most important decision under great pressure from the Pb and Pb elect on the very last day. Is anyone surprised that the decision made was inadequate by any reasonable measure?

To be completely fair, I don't think "the process" is entirely at fault here. The Special Legislative Committee handling resolutions related to the Windsor Report didn't get the most controversial resolutions sent out until the second week of convention, meaning that there was practically no time for people to talk, listen, pray, and consider what was before them, let alone build consensus around the resolutions as the committee sent them out or among any given set of proposed amendments. Coincidence? I'm not sure. I'll be writing an editorial for The Witness about all this within the next day or two.

June 22, 2006 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (0)

stuck in my head

On the drive home from General Convention, a U2 song kept playing in my head as a commentary on how I was feeling, especially in this section:

Waves that leave me out of reach
Breaking on your back like a beach.
Will we ever live in peace?
'Cause those that can't do often have to
And those that can't do often have to preach

To the ones staring at the sun
Afraid of what you'll find if you took a look inside.
Not just deaf and dumb, staring at the sun
I'm not the only one who'd rather go blind.

Intransigence in all around
Military's still in town
Armour plated suits and ties
Daddy just won't say goodbye
Referee won't blow the whistle.
God is good but will he listen?
I'm nearly great but there's something missing.
I left it in the duty free,
Oh, though you never really belonged to me.

You're not the only one staring at the sun
Afraid of what you'd find if you stepped back inside.
I'm not sucking my thumb, staring at the sun
Not the only one who's happy to go blind.

U2, "Staring at the Sun," Pop

(Full lyrics below the fold]

Staring At The Sun

Summer stretching on the grass
Summer dresses pass
In the shade of a willow tree
Creeps a-crawling over me
Over me and over you
Stuck together with God's glue
It's gonna get stickier too.
It's been a long hot summer
Let's get under cover
Don't try too hard to think
Don't think at all.

I'm not the only one
Staring at the sun
Afraid of what you'd find
If you take a look inside.
Not just deaf and dumb
I'm staring at the sun
Not the only one
Who's happy to go blind.

There's an insect in your ear
If you scratch it won't disappear.
It's gonna itch and burn and sting
Do you wanna see what the scratching brings!
Waves that leave me out of reach
Breaking on your back like a beach.
Will we ever live in peace?
'Cause those that can't do often have to
And those that can't do often have to preach

To the ones staring at the sun
Afraid of what you'll find if you took a look inside.
Not just deaf and dumb, staring at the sun
I'm not the only one who'd rather go blind.

Intransigence in all around
Military's still in town
Armour plated suits and ties
Daddy just won't say goodbye
Referee won't blow the whistle.
God is good but will he listen?
I'm nearly great but there's something missing.
I left it in the duty free,
Oh, though you never really belonged to me.

You're not the only one staring at the sun
Afraid of what you'd find if you stepped back inside.
I'm not sucking my thumb, staring at the sun
Not the only one who's happy to go blind.

June 22, 2006 in Churchiness, Life and Whatnot, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

good to be home

I'm home, and it is VERY good to be here. I've only been here one night our of the last twenty-four, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, and readjusting to domestic life -- at least until we start packing up for my move to Cambridge.

I was greeted by a rather unusual sight as I turned on the light in the upstairs bathroom, though -- a very, very dead and desiccated bat in front of the sink. It must have flown inside sometime over the last three-plus weeks and then died of starvation, dehydration, or whatever illness caused it to want to come indoors to begin with (I'm told that's unusual behavior for bats, and often indicative of illness). It was very grody indeed, though it didn't freak me out as did a live bat that came in our bedroom one day not long after we moved here in 2001. That was the day I discovered that being indoors with a live bat flapping around the room turns me instantly into a caricature of a screechy girlygirl -- I actually jumped on a chair waving my hands around close to my body at head-level while emitting high-pitched screams, and could do little else until the thing was outdoors again. I was much surprised by that reaction, as I used to love to watch the bats flying overhead in the early evening when I was growing up. I bet the Presiding Bishop-elect would have just looked at it calmly, observed it scientifically, and marveled at God's creative wonder in forming such a creature.

I could do without bats in my house, though -- desiccated or not. Still, I'll take home, bats and all, over another day of living out of a suitcase. It's looking like I'll be preaching once out-of-state in July, but other than that will have no work-related travel until I move in September (or late August if I can manage that -- gotta talk to the EDS housing office tomorrow). That will be a very, very nice change from the last year!

June 21, 2006 in Life and Whatnot, Where's Dylan? | Permalink | Comments (2)

GC Resolution on Moratoria Fails

General Convention's Resolution A161 on the requests for moratoria in the Windsor Report has failed decisively in the House of Deputies. I'm posting more information and analysis as it develops at The Witness magazine. Right now, I think I might go out for dinner with my honey -- my butt and back are very sore from sitting all day, and I'm getting hungry (having eaten nothing but two Kashi bars today).

June 20, 2006 in Churchiness, Where's Dylan? | Permalink | Comments (0)