May 2009

I have mixed reactions to yesterdays election results.

On the one hand, the whole budget process is a mess.  I think the system is broken.  And I don’t think the propositions that failed yesterday would have fixed things.  I also understand that people are angry (and why they are angry).  I’m angry too.

On the other hand, I think we just put a lot more people out of work (and lost a lot more services).  A lot of that was going to happen anyway.  But more of that will happen now.

My wife is a teacher, so she could be inpacted.  People at church work for the state, so they may be impacted.  And the extra job losses will impact everyone (and likely delay our economic recovery).

That’s my take, anyway.  It might be worth it if the system was fixed.  I see no signs that will happen.  Instead, I see fewer jobs and fewer services.  And the likelyhood that we will tend to write off the needs of those who are marginalized.  Biblically, I’d say that’s a challenge for all of us.

Well, most of our plots are now assigned.  Last I heard it was 15 out of 24 plots, but that was at least a week ago, and there were names working through the system.  This week, we’re making contact with the Fair Oaks Community Garden, which has a 2 or 3 year waiting list for plots.  Enough of those folks live close by that I suspect we’ll be full by the end of the month.  Nothing has come of the contact with the scout troop, so far.  But we do have one plot for a senior facility (I understand we not only waived the annual “water” fee, but bought some plants and seed for them).  It’s great to see folks out working in their gardens most any time I happen by the church.

Another thing that’s happened is that money has been donated towards our expenses (upwards of $5,000 in startup expenses so far) in memory of Lukas Keye — the 20 year old son of 2 of our members, who died earlier this month.  Somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 has been donated in his memory, I’m told.  We plan to put up some kind of a permanent memorial marker in his name.  And we might do that for others as time goes on.

Much remains to be done.  The rules have to be finalized.  Someday we may have storage for garden tools.  We’ll want more water outlets.  We hope to expand to about 74 plots in 2 more phases.  And I think we’d like to fence in the perimiter eventually.  I think someone said this would be at least another $25,000 to $30,000 in expenses down the road to get set up.  But we have time.  And we’re trying for some grants.  And things are well underway.  And I’m quite pleased with where we are now.

Bishop Dan writes on his blog:

A recent letter to our diocesan newsletter chided church leaders for failing to teach that homosexuality is a “sin.” I don’t want to tackle the question of whether homosexuality is a sin or not on a blog. It takes more words and more serious reflection than this medium affords. But it does raise an important question I want to ponder a little. What is a “sin”?

The letter to the editor sparks this question for me because Scripture does not define homosexual acts as sins. Only one specific homosexual act is prohibited and it is described as a ritual purity violation, which is quite a different matter. Ritual purity violations are in the category of planting two kinds of crop in one field or wearing a poly-blend suit, not the category of murder, theft, adultery, and other such moral issues having to do with justice and integrity. But if something is not defined as sin in Scripture, that doesn’t resolve the question. Scripture doesn’t say anything about “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture), toxic waste dumping, or human trafficking – but I feel certain in my heart that those things are sins. So how do we know if something is a sin?

That’s the start of what I find to be a very interesting article.  You can find the whole thing here.

Dean Baker has been highlighting how states and the District of Columbia have been moving to accept gay marriage.  One article I found particularly interesting is about New York, and how some Republicans have been moved to support gay marriage.  If you want to see this, you can go here.  I heard second hand, yesterday, about how Sara Palin greeted a friend she grew up with in her home town.  She was introduced to his partner.  And she said something to the effect of “you seem to make him happy — congratulations.”  No, I don’t think she’s likely to support gay marriage.  But more and more people have a face for gay marriage.  And people tend to be supportive of those they care for, at least on a personal level.  I know.  Not always.  And it sure takes a long time sometimes.  But I continue to see movement towards justice and inclusion and love.  It gives me real hope.

Had a chance to see the Indigo Girls in Concert at the Crest last night with my daughter.  It was great!  This is the second time we’ve had a chance to see them live.  We’ve been following them since she was about 10 when we heard the staff at our diocesan camp playing their music and liked it.  Good music.  Great words.  Very likeable presence.

Some of their music is about being lesbian.  You can hear the pain in some of what they sing, as well as the pride.  There is a real spirituality in their music.  Some of it seems specifically Christian.  But there is also a real openness to a viriety of paths.  The place was really rockin when they sang “Closer to Fine” as their closing (before oncores) number — which is very clear about not looking for a single, definitive path.  There is a real sense of inclusiveness in what they sing.

I guess their music might not be for everyone.  But they touch on the human experience with honesty and openness and humility.  They have added joy to my life.  They’ve made me think.  I would certainly recommend their music for a listen.  You can find their home page here.

The son of a couple who attend St. George’s died about a week ago.  He was 20 years old, and it looks like it was probably an accidental drug overdose (mixing alchohol and other drugs recreationally).  I’ve been wanting to address this, and didn’t know what I wanted to say.  This is simply tragic for him, his family and his friends (of whom there are many).  There is nothing that makes it alright.  But we do have to live with it.  And we will have to move forward from here.

My sermon for last Sunday, Mother’s Day, wrote itself once I started writing about a parent’s love and God’s love.  And, although it is not really about this death, the sermon does mention his death, and is really probably what I would want to say about his death.  So it’s about love and death and even something about my core beliefs as a Christian.

If you want to hear the sermon, you can find it here.  (The week beginning May 10 it’s the video sermon on this page.  In following weeks, it should be available in the audio links to earlier sermons.)  If you would like to read the sermon, it follows below: (more…)

Marshall Scott writes in his article “What will be lost,” which I found in the Daily Episcopalian part of Episcopal Cafe:

For most of my career in the Episcopal Church we have been conscious of – even proud of – our vagueness. That’s not to say that it hasn’t driven every one of us crazy at some point; but we cherished it nonetheless. It allowed us to always pray together, usually worship together, and sometimes work together despite our strongly-held differences. The old epigram associated “Broad-” churchmanship and “haziness;” but the truth was that we all took part in some haziness as a central strategy of living together in the Episcopal Church.

I think he’s right.  We are being driven to do something which is counter to the roots of tradition:  to define concisely what one must believe to be an Episcopalian (and thus define out anyone who doesn’t fit in this narrow definition).  We are in danger of losing the breadth which is our heritage.  We are in danger of declaring that we cannot live with and pray with those who disagree with us on important issues.  We are in danger of creating outcasts in the Body of Christ.  I think it’s awful!  If you’d like to see the rest of his article, you can find it here.

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