March 2010

This is also from Episcopal Cafe’s Daily Episcopalian.  It’s by Ann Fontaine, who I knew when I was at St. Andrew’s in Meeteetsee, Wyoming (though she may not remember me).  I actually left a comment of my own on the original posting.  Anyway, here’s her article:

As Holy Week nears I see church bulletins and websites publicizing liturgies and events, welcoming others to come and participate. One of the more popular offerings is a Seder. As soon as I see this, I remember a student colleague from divinity school saying, “Why do you Christians steal our sacred rites? You have not suffered as we have suffered at your hands, yet you feel free to take our liturgies for your pleasure.”

This is similar to questions Native Americans ask when Euro-Americans hold sweat lodge ceremonies. How can those of us who have not walked the path of another tradition and lived with the oppression and violence skim off the cream of an “interesting” ritual? Doesn’t taking a ritual out of it’s cultural context cut off its roots? Rather than a living tradition, tended and shaped by history and the life around it, the ritual seems to become only the flower picked for its ability to decorate. (more…)

From the Daily Episcopalian on Episcopal Cafe (with thanks to Monica Romano for the tip):

By Marshall Scott

I’ve been thinking about another of my frequent conversations at the bedside. It begins with, “How are you doing?” And while it might wander a bit, frequently it comes back to this: “I’m having a hard time with this, Chaplain; but they say that God won’t give you more than you can handle.” My initial response to this is, “Perhaps; but I often find myself wishing God didn’t have quite so much faith in me!” (more…)

Well, much as I want to say I’m fully recovered from the surgery, and simply looking at how life moves forward after gastric bypass surgery is accomplished, I keep getting reminders that I’m not there yet.  And, as my wife reminds me, I cannot really expect to be “over” the surgery and fully recovered and back to a new normal yet.  It’s been just over five weeks.  I haven’t had my second follow-up visit with my doctor yet.  I don’t know if my vitamins are in balance.  I’m not eating “normal” food yet — just “soft” food. (more…)

Well, I think I’m probably back from surgery.  I know my energy is going to be a bit low, at least off and on.  But I’m eating soft foods now, mostly without much problems.  It’s been a pretty busy week — much of it, but not all, work.  Our Vestry Retreat adds some time and effort.  Doing my taxes adds some time and effort.  And I’ve had three medical appointments (and blood work done) this week.  And I’ve been tired sometimes.  Like last night, when I just couldn’t sleep.  And I ended up finishing off the Prayer Service for tomorrow’s Vestry Retreat a bit after 3 AM.  I did need a nap this afternoon (and I really hope I can sleep tonight).  But I’m walking, I’m working, I’m eating and I’m playing.  And I’m not in pain.  There continue to be adjustments I have to learn to make.  And there continue to be minor issues to deal with.  But I think I’m back.

Biggest disappointment so far?  I’m still taking one and a half of my diabetes medications.  And my blood sugar is not as well controlled (ranging from about 150 before breakfast in the morning to about 80 before I go to bed — going slowly down all day).  But that’s better than it was (although not as good, at all, as it started out after the surgery).  Second biggest disappointment is the addition of a new blood pressure medication.  I’m still hoping, long-term, that both of these problems go away.

Biggest plus?  I was about 263 pounds the morning of my surgery (down from about 300 about a year before that).  Thirty two days after the surgery I weighed 229 pounds.  (These are first thing in the morning before shower weights.)  I know my scale can be off by a couple of pounds, up or down, on any given day.  But that’s about 34 pounds in thirty-two days.  And mostly I don’t feel like I’m going hungry.

So, all in all, I can’t complain.  I know I’m still in the healing and adjustment phase.  But I’m assuming I’m back in what is becoming my new “normal” routines for life.

James Richardson wrote a thoughtful piece on this in his blog.  You can find the article here.  I think it’s worth reading.

That’s “The Lead” at Episcopal Cafe.  This happened on a 95 to 21 vote (with 74 needed to approve).  If I understand correctly, this means that all churches that want to can perform civil or religious ceremonies for same-sex couples.  No church has to do this.  And it means that some individual congregations (including congregations from the Church of England) can perform such marriages, without the Church of England ever having approved them.  This is because the head of the Church of England is the Queen, and some decisions about what the church can or cannot do (like approving a new Prayer Book) are effectively decided in Parliament.  It’s really very interesting how this works.  And it changes the landscape on this question in England.

My colleague Craig Kuehn is blogging about the increase of medical bankruptcies.  He says:

• 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies have a medical cause.

• Most medical debtors had health insurance, were well-educated and were middle-class.

• Insolvency attributable to medical problems rose by 50 percent between 2001 and 2007.

Anyone who is a citizen of this country should be ashamed of these numbers. The richest country in the world is failing its people. And in spite of this and other evidence that health care in this country is broke, Congress dithers. Medical costs continue to skyrocket with no end in sight. This will force more and more people into bankruptcy

If this piques your interest, you can read more here.

Episcopal Relief and Development has a brief article on the earthquake in Chile.  And if you wanted to donate to their disaster relief fund for this, you can donate here.  To donate to help in Chile, donate under “disaster relief” (which is the second option).  The first option is still to donate for relief in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.  Both are worthy causes.  I particularly like donating through ERD (and Heiffer International) because they are on the ground, with local people, for the long haul.  But by all means donate through your favorite charity.  What’s important is to meet the need.

I read an article from the New York Times, seemingly from a religious conservative, this past week.  And the tone was along the lines that if we could just stop fixating on sexuality, maybe conservatives and liberals in the church (in the broadest sense) could focus on real Christian ministry.  Jeremiah talked about the real sin of Sodom being their unwillingness to share what they had with those in need.  And conservatives have begun to focus, perhaps, less on their personal faith, and more on living up to the gospel.  They have been challenged from within to start doing a better job of responding to the desperate needs of the world around them in God’s name. (more…)