Thursday, January 31, 2008

Anticipatory monkish Belgian beer



Another travel photo from late last year. (This one, though not the ones below, will enlarge if you click.)

An evening in Paris just before the trip to Belgium. I thought this kind of picture would be something I'd take in Brussels or Leuven, since Belgium held promises of beer and in Leuven I'd be staying with monks (Benedictines, not Trappists) but there I was on a Paris avenue, and suddenly I came upon a Stella Artois sign with a merry monk underneath. They were attached to a Belgian restaurant.

All this is one more proof that Paris is a world-class city.

And these buildings are part of what I miss here in the land of Southern sprawl. I am growing to love North Carolina, but give me a real city, please! Where's seventeenth century architecture when you need it? Or even nineteenth century architecture?





Life is busy here. We have finalists for a faculty search in town this week and the next two. The first left late last night. I teach Wednesday and Thursday nights. I'm still wrestling with various pieces of writing.

Peace out. Keep prayin' for your not always humble and somewhat obedient servant.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And a ferry view you can click and enlarge

Same view. More detail.
Water view, Kadikoy-Istanbul commuter ferry, December 2007.
Photo by Jane Redmont.

"Ferry to Chalcedon" post preview, and quick Senate vote roundup

Swamped again... Sigh.

To the left and below are a few preview photos of my two trips to the Asian side of the Bosphorus. The tale with photos (these and many others) in proper chronological order is under construction.

I am NOT listening to the State of the Onion. I will read it when it's over.



Cloture vote on FISA. Good. For updates on the scoundrel scene, see friends' posts here (Mimi) and here (Buddhapalian) and here (Buddhapalian again, on a not unrelated matter). Longish but worth it.





That's the view from the outdoor deck of the ferry. I froze my fingers taking it just for you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This one's for graphics freaks and political junkies: who's got the winning font?

Great story from the Boston Globe on the fonts and graphics used by the various presidential candidates. As a font freak, I loved this one.

He taught in their synagogues


From this morning's Gospel on the call of the first disciples:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Their synagogues. I always wondered about that. The first disciples' synagogues? Was there a tour of hometowns? Or is that just a collective pronoun as in U.K. English usage?

At any rate, note, he is said to have taught in synagogues. Hardly indicates someone on the outs with his Jewish coreligionists.

(Yes, Matthew is the Gospel most overtly preoccupied with keeping the connection with a Jewish Christian, as opposed to Gentile Christian, audience. Though there is now some interesting new work on the Gospel of John in that regard.)

And note the basic elements of Jesus' ministry after the first call: teaching in the local congregations of his own religious community, preaching the reign of God (not the cult of his own personality), and healing all manner of ills.

Note that the text uses two words for illness (nosos and malakia). In the Greek they indicate two different kinds of diseases, though it is not entirely clear (to me) what the difference is, except that one means a sort of "softenes" or weakness. One can speculate that in our language, this would include both physical and mental illness, though Greek-speaking (and Aramaic-speaking) people did not make distinctions among illnesses that way.

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to us
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.

Our Lord Jesus Christ be with us to defend us,
within us to keep us,
before us to lead us,
and above us to bless us.

God be our comfort, our strength;
God be our hope and support;
God be our light and our way;
and the blessing of God,
Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life,
remain with us now and forever.

Amen.

A New Zealand Prayer Book
from Prayers for Use in Critical Situations and
The Blessing of the Sick
(language adapted to the first person plural)

Chocolate truffles

Another exciting weekend night on a long-term writing project. Does this woman not have a social life, you ask? The answer is that it's on hold. But fear not, the 35th annual Mardi Gras crêpes party is upon us and I never, ever skip that. I held it the year my (then-) cat died, I held it the year my (then-) boyfriend broke up with me less than a week before, I held it when I was taking my Ph.D. comps. I held it in the middle of a job hunt involving travel. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow. Of course I am the one who stays at home. But in Boston people used to shlepp through the snow for it.

At any rate, it is a quiet scholarly night here in the Southland, Maya Pavlova is at her post, curled up on the book I need to consult (she was off in the corner for several hours, don't ask me why -- she seems to adopt places to nap for a few days running for reasons known only to her), and after many meals in the delicious-but-disgustingly-healthy category (or rather, delicious AND healthy) involving all manner of vegetables and lentils and tofu and brown rice and interesting spices, I poked around the cupboards and the fridge to see what was there in this pre-payday week of leftovers and produced chocolate truffles, and I am here to tell you that a) it's easy and b) you don't even need to have the heavy cream they tell you about in the recipe. I don't keep heavy cream in the house but with butter and a little 2% milk it worked just fine, thank you very much. Of course, there was a supply of Really Good Dark Chocolate sitting around, which helped. Also a little rum. And powdered cocoa to roll the little truffles in once the mixture had sat in the fridge to cool off and get thick.

Theology goes better with chocolate, you know.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"What Chores Would Jesus Do?" An article and short rant on "The New Monasticism"

Article on folks from "The New Monasticism" in the L.A. Times.

What's fascinating --and frustrating-- about this new movement is its a) reinventing the wheel and b) lack of ecumenical and historical grounding. If they just connected with other similar communities past and present -- Catholic Worker houses, various communes and religious houses, Amish, more mainstream Mennonites and Brethren, Quaker communities (Quaker testimonies include "simplicity") and retreat/resource centers, Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities and Mercy Volunteer Corps (not to be confused with the Mercy Corps) and their Presbyterian counterparts (yes, the Presbys have a volunteer corps, doing border work in and around Tucson), the Sojourners folks (the original ones, anyway) and any number of others -- they could get some practical tips and talk to people who've been at it for a while, in the case of the present-day communities in the U.S. The Rule of Benedict isn't made for married people, but checking in with Catholic and Anglican communities who have associates or oblates might also be helpful. Community and simplicity aren't new impulses in Christianity, though in any era they are tremendously challenging.

I'm feeling old.

There are also other "New Monasticism" communities around the country, so you'd think they'd form a loose federation or at least check in with each other.

Note: there is a New Monasticism organization and website, so it's not like there isn't some of what I am talking about going on -- but the very practical side of things needs some assistance so people can communicate and support each other. And share struggles and ideas. It's not rocket science.

This is where American individualism and also Protestant fear of and ignorance of Catholics (and other Protestants, and Anglicans) impair well-meaning efforts like these.

We also can't underestimate the grip that consumerism has on all of us.

End of rant.

I need to go and get some protein in me.

The article has some very moving aspects and is worth a read but I am just struck by the lack of "vertical" and "horizontal" (historical and geographical/present/communication) connections. We have a local group here that is an "emergent" community, lovely people --not a live-in community though, but the problem is similar-- and they are reinventing wheels all over the place.

Of course the fault may be partly ours in the institutional churches that have wonderful and rich resources. We've hidden them or not made them attractive or failed to help people outside our immediate communities see how they could renew their lives and nourish them. And folk are suspicious of established churches for all kinds of very good reasons. So, there's work for us to do too.

Hmmmm.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday cat blogging part 2: cacao threats


Nicked from The Website of Unknowing. (Thanks to Eileen again, I found the website through her in a post related to contemplative prayer. )

A Meme from Eileen, who got it from Episcopollyanna

I filled up Eileen's Comments section to keep these semi-hidden, but I might as well stick 'em up here for entertainment. I never write anything on blog that can't go public, so here we go. Special thanks to Eileen.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name, mostly not, though my parents had a good friend named Jane and that may have influenced their choice; when I was young she was Big Jane and I was Little Jane. She died a few years ago — wonderful woman, a painter who loved cats. My middle name, yes: Carol, after my maternal great-grandmother, Karoline Hirsch Tokaji. My mother was very close to her grandmother. Also, my brother helped make the final decision about my name. He is reputed to have said “Jane Carol, that’s a nice Hollywood name.” He was nine and a half when I was born. My mother is Joan and when I was young we had an English au-pair named Jean for a while, so it got rather confusing at home. Then Jean went back to England and got married and named her firstborn after me (I’m serious) so the confusion went on and on.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? At the liturgy at Diocesan Convention last Friday when the bishop gave special awards 1) to a tiny congregation of dear, sweet, perfectly ordinary and perfectly saintly people who are quietly and steadily doing Godde’s work, feeding the hungry, tending to prisoners, and praying all the way and 2) to a woman now known as the “cake lady” (I’m not clear whether she is a member of a different congregation) because a while back she decided no foster child in her county should go without a birthday cake and proceeded to start baking and hasn’t stopped since. I couldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t the only one.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes, but sometimes I’m the only one who can read it.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Ick. Never touch the stuff.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? No biological children, but three godchildren, all in their early twenties (two daughters, one son), plus one international student whom I stood up for at baptism back when I was in campus ministry and who vanished off the radar and another one who is in her thirties and also vanished off the radar — long story and on the other side of the Atlantic. Also two nephews (my brother’s kids), both in their thirties.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Sure.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not much. I don’t like it used in my direction so I avoid it — though there’s a fine line between sarcasm and irony and I use irony a lot. And humor.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yup.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Are you kidding? I’m a physical coward. No way. But giving a speech or sermon to a thousand people doesn’t bother me.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? The local granola, from an organic farm run by a nice older couple. It isn’t sweet (I hate overly sweet cereal or overly sweet anything –except for Turkish Delight, but I am digressing and it’s not cereal) and has pecans in it.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Depends what shoes I’m wearing.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? It depends. Personality, yes; muscular strength, currently not so good except legs, because I haven’t been weight-lifting; moral strength, probably okay but we’re all sinners and you never know how you’re going to meet the next challenge; psychological strength, depends on the situation, kind of a combo; stubbornness, high.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Italian. Not ice, not spumone. Gelato. Almost any flavor — just not heavy creamy American ice cream. Also French sorbet au cassis. (Blackcurrant sorbet.) So sue me. I’m a food snob.

There’s also this really good coffee ice cream from a small organic brand that I discovered last summer at the food co-op. Oh. My. Godde. I stopped buying it so I’d make sure to fit into my clothes.

Now you’ve got me thinking about ice cream.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Eyes, gaze, general demeanor and “vibe,” facial expression. (All together.)

15. RED OR PINK? Red, though I like Eileen’s answer. ("Yes.")

16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My current weight and the fact that I can’t seem to meet writing deadlines these days.

17. WHOM DO YOU MISS THE MOST? A dear friend who died in the summer of ‘02. I say his name at Mass every Sunday during the Prayers when everyone can –silently or aloud or softly– name those who have died.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black pants. Pink Crocs, because I’m working at home till early afternoon. (Written yesterday, Thursday.)

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A teaspoonful of honey, while making tea in which I just put another spoonful. (Also Thursday.)

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Beethoven Piano and Cello Sonatas CD my best buddy on the faculty lent me — played by Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. But I just went through an obsessive “Guys and Dolls” revival phase. (See 3 most recent YouTubes on my blog.)

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? No idea. Deep purple, maybe?

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Mediterranean small town or country in summer (hot dust, rosemary, olive trees, pine), forest anywhere, Atlantic coast in New England, roasting chestnuts outdoors on street in Paris, all the white fragrant flowers like honeysuckle and paperwhites and sirynga (which I can’t spell), and six gazillion kinds of food smells. Probably a few others that don’t belong on a family blog ;-).

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My father.

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? World Cup soccer and various winter Olympics, and my Red Sox boys, but mostly I don’t watch sports.

25. HAIR COLOR? Silvery grey with one remaining streak of black, toward the middle in front (which looks a little weird, but that’s how Mother Nature is coloring me).

26. EYE COLOR? Dark brown.

27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No. Glasses though.

28. FAVORITE FOOD? (Eileen: “Yes.”) What Eileen said. Also, it depends on the season.

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings, definitely.

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Yeesh, I can’t remember.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Red flannel plaid with grey, black, and white over a grey turtleneck. (It’s Friday after work now.)

32. SUMMER OR WINTER? Both.

33. HUGS OR KISSES? Yes.

34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Berries.

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? A stack of stuff for a theological thing I’m writing, mostly Third World women’s theologies plus a ton of things related to courses I'm teaching. And a little book by Walter Wink called Jesus and Nonviolence. I need a good mystery novel, it’s been at least a month since the last one. (I went through a stack of Robert Parker ones not too long ago.)

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Nothing. It’s plain grey.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? A Law & Order: Criminal Intent rerun.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Too many to name. Many musical ones. Current favorite: my cat’s purr. Oddball favorite from childhood: my father’s steady typing at his manual typewriter in the room next door.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles. (Sorry, MP.)

40. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Depends which home. When I was little: New York, because I lived in Europe. Recently: Istanbul, because I live in the U.S.

41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Singing, writing when I can get my act together, preaching, spiritual direction, correcting papers while sitting in boring meetings and managing to pay attention to both.

42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? American Hospital, Neuilly-sur-Seine (next to Paris), France.

I'm not tagging anyone, but if you want to play, all or in part, post to your blog and link it back to this one, or just answer in the Comments section here. Cheerio.

Friday cat blogging: cats in a mosque courtyard


This was a prelude to the cats of Chalcedon. It was quite the multireligious trip to Istanbul and environs.

These cats will appear again (as will the Chalcedon cats) in the forthcoming, much awaited, really and truly finally happening, leisurely tale of The Ferry to Chalcedon, coming to you this weekend! Yay! One faculty committee meeting this afternoon (on the day I am not supposed to be on campus, but that's when the chair scheduled it) and then I get to work at home with the local feline and try to hatch deep theological thoughts and coherent sentences. (A very good week on the teaching front though -- I think this semester is going to be more pleasant than the last. Thank heavens.)

Click the photo for close-up and details.

P.S. Oh geez, I just realized I already posted this on January 4. Academe is frying my brain. Someone take me back to parish work! (Right - and that will fix my brain for sure.) I'm leaving these felines here because they were handsome three weeks ago and they're handsome now. And I have to get ready for my committee meeting.

Cats in Mosque Courtyard, Uskudur, Turkey. Photo by Jane Redmont.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Silence (from the Desert Fathers via Thomas Merton)

Behold, my beloved, I have shown you the power of silence, how thoroughly it heals and how fully pleasing it is to God. Wherefore I have written to you to show yourselves strong in this work you have undertaken, so that you may know that it is by silence that the saints grew, and that it was because of silence that the power of God grew in them, because of silence that the mysteries of God were known to them.

***--Ammonas, Desert Father, disciple of St. Anthony, quoted by Thomas Merton in Contemplative Prayer (1969) (yes, a posthumous publication)

Having offered a Latin American liberation theology series here during the twelve days of Christmas, I'm thinking of offering some kind of contemplative prayer series during Lent. Stay tuned. Requests and suggestions welcome.

P.S. Good news coming soon about some of my writings on prayer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More Peter Gallagher, more "Guys and Dolls"

What can I say. Stress reducer.

Click here.

Work-related stress really can kill you

So says the latest Serious Medical Study, from University College London.

Great.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Three new bloggety-blogs --and happy Tu B'Shvat

So three of my buddies, make that four --one blog is the work of a couple-- have new blogs, some newer than others

1. My old friend (good heavens, has it been that many years?) Ken has a new blog, replacing an old blog or two and an old website or two, unless the website is still up. It is called Le Bestiaire, the bestiary, but it's not in French. [Jan. 26 note: Ken has changed the URL but hasn't told me what it is. I will post it here as soon as I have it. Geez, boys, make up your minds ;-) So much for la donna e' mobile; our donne here are stable...] Ken loves animals and opera; he's also been through the mill in the world of work and tells it like it is; and he honored me with a little theological-spiritual reflection on his own and others' journeys through hard times. Oh, and he's also a poet. And plays the horn, or used to. An erudite fellow who knows how to curse. What's not to love? He's been a visitor to the Comments section here. And oh, he's an Episcopalian with a checkered religious past, much like my own. Checkered religious past? Doesn't that describe at least half of the readers of this blog?

2. My friends Karen and Beth, a couple I know right here in the Triad (Greensboro/ High Point / Winston-Salem, not to be confused with the Triangle, which is Raleigh/ Durham/ Chapel Hill) have just started a new blog. It is called Triad GLBT Christian and it's exactly what the name indicates -- a resource for lgbt (having lived in California for ten years, I put the "L" first) people. In their words, we will provide resources and create a forum that addresses issues affecting GLBTs who are Christian, ex-Christian, or Christian-curious. And to them I say a heartfelt "bless your hearts." They are fine women and deeply committed Christians.

3. The ubiquitous JohnieB, traveler of the blogosphere and frequent cyber-visitor to these parts, has succumbed to peer pressure and used his moniker, dontwantadamnedblog, as part of the address for his new blog, which is named Here Still Running. (JohnieB, your blog has suddenly disappeared tonight. Say it ain't so. Is it Blogger or you? P.S. the next morning: Okay, per the Comments, JohnieB has a new blog URL without the dontwantadamnedblog, same name though, Here Still Running, and the link above now works too.) A very Zen-like title, said Grandmère Mimi (if I am remembering correctly).* Good heavens, another Episcopalian with a checkered religious past. What is it with this crowd? Really, I don't read or recommend only Episcopal blogs.

*****Mimi also notes that JohnieB is a little crazy. JohnieB retorts that he is 100% government-certified wacko.

So here's a bonus. You really should read Velveteen Rabbi for some thoughtful, religiously nourishing and spiritually heartfelt Jewish fare. Velveteen Rabbi has been in the blogosphere for quite a while and she is hugely popular among persons of many faiths, and for good reason. Poke around the archive, not just the present posts.

Besides which, today is TuB'Shvat (or TuBiShvat), The New Year of Trees, in the Jewish tradition.



And now, back to our scheduled alleged non-blogging. (Ha!)

Even more Convention: resolution on inclusion of all persons regardless of sexual orientation

More from the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

This resolution, also passed Saturday, occasioned a little more discussion than the one on immigration. We had already passed a resolution on inclusion of and apology to lgbt persons last year (not long after the Southern Baptist Convention, also meeting in Greensboro, had issued a condemnatory statement) which reaffirmed a statement from General Convention, but it did not go into the specifics you will see below.

The objections, and an alternative resolution proposed from the floor and defeated, were not against inclusion but they either diluted the resolution out of stated concern for its reception in the wider Anglican Communion or expressed concern that "it was not yet time" for this statement. (Some of us shuddered upon hearing that, since the very same language of "people are not ready" came up again and again during debates on civil rights for African Americans and on the ordination of women lo those not so many years ago.) As for the Anglican Communion, our partnerships with dioceses in Central America and Southern/Central Africa attest to our commitment to our common faith, work, and celebration.

The conversation and debate were civil, without acrimony or name-calling. Bishop Curry noted this and thanked us for it after the resolution passed, by a large majority. I hope that those who cast the minority votes continue to feel that we are one despite our differences.

Report of the Committee on Faith and Morals

ON THE INCLUSION OF ALL PERSONS
REGARDLESS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION
AS FULL AND EQUAL PARTICIPANTS
IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST'S CHURCH

RESOLVED, by the 192nd Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, that the Diocese continue to demonstrate its commitment to radical hospitality and, that in accordance with the House of Bishops' Statement, Fall 2007, we "proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church" by:

1) Urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to extend to the duly elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire an invitation to full participation in the Lambeth Conference of 2008;

2) Encouraging our Deputies to the 2009 General Convention to ensure compliance with Title III. Canon I. Section 2, which supports the full and equal participation of all persons regardless of sexual orientation in all aspects of the Church's ministries, lay and ordained;

3) Encouraging the General Convention to call for the development of public liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions.

Yet more Convention: resolution on immigration and immigrants

Below is the resolution on immigration passed by the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on Saturday. Amazingly, it passed without a peep. Even at the hearing (we hold separate hearings before the floor debate and vote ) all the interventions were in favor -- just a few friendly amendments. (I was at the hearing and offered a friendly amendment which got incorporated urging that we note not just the "plight" of immigrants but also their "gifts.") Three of our priests, Anne Hodges-Copple, Chantal McKinney (whose mother, Evelyn Morales, is a deacon in our diocese), and Hal Hayek (who is ecumenical and interfaith officer for the diocese and our liaison with the NC Council of Churches), drafted the resolution, but a larger group of lay and ordained people had input. The drafters chose their words very carefully.

There was also a very good preamble but I don't have it in electronic form.

The Hispanic Ministry Committee has sent out to every congregation a packet of Episcopal Church resources (liturgy, preaching, etc.), North Carolina Council of Churches resources, statistics, and concise and easy to understand information on immigration reform from the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

SUPPORT FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
AND EDUCATION OF CONGREGATIONS
CONCERNING IMMIGRATION REFORM
A resolution to commit the Diocese of North Carolina to study immigration reform,
encourage local dialogue
and advocate for the protection of undocumented workers.

RESOLUTION

BE IT RESOLVED that the 192nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina encourages the U.S. government to enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes reasonable pathways to permanent residency; increased legal avenues for workers to enter the United States in a safe and orderly fashion; reunification without undue delay of families separated by migration; effective, proportional and humane enforcement of national borders and immigration policies; the right of due process for immigrants; and policies which address the root causes of migration.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 192nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina believes that any governmental action which unduly emphasizes enforcement as the primary response to immigrants entering this country or which criminalizes persons providing humanitarian assistance to migrants does not accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, we encourage the state and local governments of North Carolina to provide for fair treatment and protection of our state's immigrant population.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Convention encourage wide participation by our congregations and institutions in educational events and forums to learn about the plight and gifts of immigrants, to develop relationships with them, to listen to people's experiences of enforcement and its impact on their lives and their families, to learn about the root causes of migration, and to discuss long-term solutions to the immigration crisis.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rest in peace, Edmund Hillary


Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary were the first human beings to reach the top of Mount Everest. Hillary was laid to rest today in his native New Zealand. AP story here. BBC story here.


Tenzing Norgay died in 1986.

Vergara's photos of MLK murals in U.S. cities


Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara brings us murals of Dr. King throughout the cities of the United States.


Click here for more, including a slide show and the audio of a related radio story. Thank you, National Public Radio.

Vergara has been documenting urban U.S. America for three decades. You can read more about him and his work on the web page at the link above.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: the speech we need

This is the speech we need to read, or listen to, today. The link has both text and audio.



I've put this up on all the course websites for my students. Texts of it began circulating again after we got into the latest war(s). Note the careful analysis in there. It is a much more dangerous and radical speech than "I Have a Dream."

MLK was assassinated a year to the day after giving it.

It's called "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." Riverside Church, April 4, 1967. Forty years ago.

Read it. Listen to it.

P.S. I posted this around noon but am amending the time because I had to repost the video below and I want you to see the MLK material when you first arrive. This message brought to you by the tech repair crew at Acts of Hope.

And they think we weren't about conversion...

I made the mistake of going to visit A Certain Blog to see what they were saying about my beloved diocese, and of course they have announced that we have gone off the deep end. They clearly have no idea how much talk there was about Jesus at our gathering. I'm serious.

There was even a revival among some of us hard-drinking, gambling, high-flying Episcopalians. [Yeah, I know, this scene is a takeoff on the Salvation Army, a.k.a. the Save-A-Soul Mission in the Broadway version of life, but don't get me in my professor mode.]

That's me of course in the strict Church Lady outfit there on the right, inspiring my boys to reform their evil ways.

This one's for you, boys and girls

Okay, friends, it's time for a little break in the church chat.

From my favorite Broadway musical, "Guys and Dolls" -- but at a recording session, not a performance. Enjoy. That's Peter Gallagher in the 1992 revival.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bishop Trevor's new book: Dancing Sermons

Just found this. Have a look.

The Rev. Murdock Smith on not being a Christian alone in a corner

Our life in Christ is a communal sacrament. It is not something we do alone.

***-Murdock Smith, priest of the Diocese of North Carolina, in a short presentation on our new companion relationship with the Diocese of Botswana.

Still more Convention: quotable quotes by Bishop Musonda Trevor Mwamba

Darn. The diocese just took down the picture of our two bishops --of North Carolina and Botswana-- in Botswana drinking tea out of china teacups. It was just too too British Empire but would have made for the perfect illustration of the quote on Lambeth and the Queen below. I'll try to track it down if it is still hiding somewhere on the diocesan website. (I'm not wild about this website; but I digress.) A Sunday afternoon p.s.: here it is, folks; alas not in color as the original was. Click here for the photo embedded in a pdf version of our diocesan newspaper. Really. You must see it. It was better with the fuchsia but this is better than nothing.

Bishop Trevor, as he is known, said, among many other things:

[In] the Anglican Communion in the context of the present turbulence [we] need to be reminded of: good manners; God; humility; respect; love for one another.

[Refers to Church Times article he wrote a while back which was] a plea for mutual tolerance among Anglicans worldwide. We must all learn to live together... [Quotes former ABC Robert Runcie's book title Grow or Die.]

Oneness does not necessarily imply sameness.

The magic of Anglicanism is holding to the pillar of the Via Media. We should seek the characteristic Anglican way... not ducking hard questions but holding together contrary views and loyalties and finding a synthesis.

Part of the answer lies in all of us experiencing a change of heart in the current standoff or stalemate... It means becoming friends. ... The person we fear or resent [is] just like me, just like us. [Quotes Maya Angelou and Eleanor Roosevelt.] ... each person you meet in a spirit of adventure. Learn to understand the soil in which their roots have grown.

God is always on the other side, in the other person.

More than anything else we need to experience God afresh.

Where would our Lord Jesus Christ be in all this debate? Where IS our Lord Jesus Christ in all this debate? The core mission of the Church is the enlargement of God's kingdom on earth. everybody welcome at the table of God. Everybody affirmed and accepted.

Why do we teaching thinking separation? Have we lost sight of the height and depth of the kingdom, the infinity of God in us?

[When] I hear hushed [the News & Record reporter heard "harsh"] noises... [he's referring to the Current Unpleasantness] by these people in purple, bishops, I ask myself, "Does anyone pray?!"

We need the grace of God to reveal afresh the oneness we possess in our baptism. It is given. It's a gift.

[Talks about the diversity among African provinces, and how they reflect most of the Anglican tradition:] Catholic, Evangelical, liberal, charismatic. To think there is one view is simplistic and a distortion of the truth.

[Criticizes] the simplistic press view of a conservative African church whose position is that it sees only devils in the Episcopal Church...

The truth of the matter is --listen carefully, I'm only going to say it once-- the majority of African Anglicans, 37 million [people], are not bothered about the debate on homosexuality and impaired communion, a fact not lost on the Windsor Commission.... The majority of Anglicans have their minds focused on life/death issues: HIV-AIDS, poverty, drought, malaria... now what the Church thinks about sexuality or what color your pajamas are. Most live on less than one dollar a day and are not aware this controversy is raging.

[Refers to CAPA meeting in Mauritius last year.] Most of the Anglican provinces are actually going [to Lambeth], led by the Indian Ocean [primate] who is the head of CAPA. I will be there enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea with cucumber sandwiches with Her Majesty the Queen. So will Bishop Michael [Curry].

Our vision for our diocese [Botswana] is 1) development of the spirituality of our people; 2) health; 3) education; 4) economic empowerment.

The future belongs to God. So does the Church.

Let us, conservatives, liberals, Africans, Americans, get into each other's worlds.

Let us beware of excommunicating each other here on earth.
Or we shall find in heaven we are still bound together at the table of Christ's love: Archbishop Akinola sitting next to Bishop Gene Robinson! For such is the Kingdom of God.

PULA!

We all learned a new word at Diocesan Convention: Pula.

Pula means "blessing" in Setswana, the language of Botswana.

It also means "rain" because rain is very scarce in Botswana, which is home to much of the KalahariDesert.

Pula, because it denotes value, is also the name of the currency of Botswana.

So there you have it: blessing, rain, money.

When you are welcoming an honored guest, or in celebration mode, or when the rain comes, you shout PULA!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Convention: quotable quotes by Bishop Michael Curry

Previous posts on Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina:

Here and (briefly) here.

Disclaimer: this is not an official report or even a complete one. It is a set of snapshots. Bear in mind everyone has particular filters, biases, lenses, hermeneutics, whatever you want to call 'em.

A few notes from Bishop Michael Curry's Convention Address:

[Anything in brackets is something I didn't exactly hear or that I can't read clearly in my scribbles. If it is not in italics, then it's my statement and not the bishop's. Ellipses indicate that I am skipping words -- mostly because I didn't have time to write them down. There is a written text of Bishop Curry's address available, but he always departs from his text, and I mean always.]

It's time for this individualized sectarianism [to stop]. We are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. We are not Congregationalists. We are not Baptists. We are Episcopalians!

[I plan to be at] Lambeth. I don't have to agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He's my brother. I don't agree with my brother. I don't agree with my wife! [That one was the quote of the day. We howled with laughter in agreement.]

Agreement does not constitute the church. Being bonded in Christ does!

The work of abolishing poverty... stopping the desecration of the environment... is not "secular work!" [Goes on to reference Matthew 25.] Working to end poverty, end suffering... we do it because we walk in the footsteps of Jesus.... [though] y'all know I believe in the Creed and I want you to say it every Sunday.

[Reflecting on his stock-taking during his recent three-month sabbatical.] [The Church must be] a house of prayer for all people. All of us... God including those who have been excluded.... that's what I believe and that's what I would give my life for.

[Talks about being the] descendant of slaves who worked the fields here in North Carolina.

The Church is characterized by being a welcoming people, leaving all judgments to God.

[So] roll up your sleeves, put your "Welcome" buttons on [We had all been given buttons with the Episcopal shield and the single word "Welcome"].

... You are a child of God. You are safe here. [Encourages everyone to read Stephanie Spellers' book Radical Welcome.]

He also spoke movingly of Thomas Atkinson, third bishop of North Carolina. See here for a little something on Atkinson.

More Convention things shortly.

Wulfstan of Worcester: January 19; Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Wulfstan of Worcester is the saint of the day in our Episcopal calendar today, January 19.

Wulfstan was one of the few Saxon bishops who survived, administratively speaking, after William the Conqueror showed up. He is best known for his opposition to the slave trade in Western England.

This is the 6th anniversary of my formal reception into the Episcopal Church. (I became a member of an Episcopal congregation in the second half of the previous year and had been in discernment about the move for a year before that.) For this and so much else, I give thanks.

It is also the second day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.* As an ecumenist, I love this holy coincidence.

* I just found out when looking for a link that this year is the Week's centenary celebration! Click on the link above for more info.

Most of the text of this post is taken from a group letter to friends two years ago.

Snow / Convention, cont'd / Sabbath

It is snowing gently here in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Convention ended early due to efficient dispatch of business. Mirabile dictu! I think the weather also had something to do with it.

It is time to get away from meetings, computers, and the pull of the outside world; to make pasta sauce, listen to an update about the home front from the resident feline, and have a nap.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Diocesan Convention quick note

First day of Convention. Took notes for myself and for you. Wore bright red (blouse of stiff silk with fabulous collar and cuffs, a hand-me-down from Mother of Acts of Hope), silver earrings, black slacks. Received communion from the Bishop of Botswana. Spoke at hearing re: resolution on comprehensive immigration reform. (Resolution comes up tomorrow in legislative session.) Hobnobbed here and there in my capacity as chair of the Anti-Racism Committee and just 'cause hobnobbing is what some of us do at Convention. Listened to two long speeches (both good). Had the vegetarian option for lunch (also good). Skipped dessert but ducked out for a mocha. Hugged a good number of people and shook hands with several others. Sang in English and Spanish. Said the Lord's Prayer in French. Learned two words in the language of Botswana. Cried during the bishop's award to the dear, good people of a small congregation, about whom more tomorrow. Sported button with Episcopal Church shield and the single word "WELCOME" (our Convention theme -- radical welcome). Caught up with several friends. Have (in my scribbled notes) many quotable quotes from various bishops (we have three plus the visiting one) and sundry lay and clergy participants. Said hi and thanks for your ministry to the PFLAG people and picked up their new flyers, some of which are in Spanish. Checked out the local icon-writer. Glowed with pride when my godson's partner read the Epistle beautifully at Eucharist. Looked in vain for the Church Pension Fund people who this year did not show up to sit at an exhibit table and dole out free pocket calendars. Promised prayers to a clergy associated with an Episcopal religious order who is encouraging them to open a house in the diocese (which currently has no religious orders resident -- we used to but they moved out). Had let's-have-lunch conversations with at least five people. Had four conversations about various people's ordination processes. (All involved rolling of eyes and gnashing of teeth.) Clapped and swayed to the singing and drumming of the St. Ambrose Igbo Gospel Choir. Did some coalition-building with members of the Hispanic Ministries Committee. Began hatching small feminist plot. (Don't hold your breath, could take years.) Asked the organist the name of the fabulous postlude he played and complimented him on it. Decided to forego the dinner out with buddies from my congregation (even though said congregation was footing the bill) because last night I didn't get home from work till midnight, so doing the self-care quiet evening at home and early to bed seemed to be the thing to do.

Off I go. Cat needs feeding and so do I.

Tune in again tomorrow.

(All together now: AND ALSO WITH YOU!)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nature these days

Last night I returned from the office very late to find my outdoor sensor light on. I could see it from afar. Aha, I thought, the deer must have been around, or maybe they are still there.

Sure enough, there they were, six of them (made me wonder where the seventh was since we have had a family or congregation of seven in the fall and early winter), not just near the house but literally at my doorstep! They are not shy. Instead of bounding away as they often do, they literally ambled away, not even bothered by the car. Once I drove into the driveway they went into the woods, but this is about the closest they've stayed to me. They always come out at night, or at dusk, when they do come out. When the babies were younger they would chase each other around the field and look like dogs from far away.

Only the mama or mamas are there. (The buck did, for the first time, come to visit and I was face to face with him in my driveway, a couple of months ago. We just stood there and stared at each other.)

Then overnight it snowed. Just a little North Carolina dusting, but Maya Pavlova, who is a young feline, had never seen snow since we didn't get any last year. Or I hear we did once, but I must have been asleep and missed it. We were worried about ice later in the day since it started raining and getting colder, but school was not canceled (ours anyway) and we didn't get an ice storm.

It's lentil soup season. I was home for lunch (the advantage of living on the edge of campus -- though some days are so busy I don't get back) and before the lentil soup the cat decided it was time for a big feline cuddle and came and draped herself on me and we just sat there for a while.

Naturally, I was wearing a dark sweater. And she has a white belly.

African American religion and theology


That's a course I teach every year. Here are the required texts. I know I'm boring and minimal in my posts but such is life these days. Well, life is not boring, I just have no time to do anything but go from this to that.

Katie Geneva Cannon, Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community
James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power
Samuel Freedman, Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church
Larry Murphy, ed., Down by the Riverside: Readings in African American Religion
Anne H. Pinn and Anthony B. Pinn, Fortress Introduction to Black Church History
Marcia Riggs, Plenty Good Room: Women vs. Male Power in the Black Church
Richard Brent Turner, Islam in the African American Experience

If you want to dip into this field and get just one book, get Murphy, which has a little of everything in short essays by very good authors.

Good class tonight... (This one meets once a week* all evening -- I actually like that and it's good for the adults commuter students but the young 'uns come too.) Also lots of student meetings, lots of pastoral work, and some late night meetings yesterday and today to get some things ready for Convention. We have a table for the diocesan Anti-Racism Committee I chair (in the exhibit area) and we arranged to have it next to the Hispanic Ministries Committee and the Environmental Ministries folks and the Christian Social Concerns committee. I'm into building social justice coalitions :-).
* Actually I have this class twice a week but it's because for the first time I am teaching two sections of the same course; meaning I teach the class Wednesday nights to one group and Thursday nights to another. So two of my courses this semester only meet once a week. Same amount of homework to correct, though, 'cause I assign the same darn amount of work.

More on Convention above, though perhaps not tonight, because on the advice of Paul, my beauty consultant (see below in the Comments), I must attend to some beautification projects, like maybe doing my nails. Last year I wore bright turquoise on with black and grey, and I think this year we're going for bright red. (I wear a lot of purple but I think red is the thing. But I may change my mind by morning.)

Click to enlarge the beautiful picture above. It is a mural by the late Cameroonian Jesuit artist and theologian Engelbert Mveng and is located at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Chicago. All the scenes are biblical and have angels in them! African angels, as you can see. (Including Black heavenly host above the Nativity scene.) Detailed explanation of the mural here. (Small mistake -- the book is called Revelation with no "s.") Home page of Holy Angels Church here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

... and we're off and running... (and a liberation theology book list)

My first class of the semester has met -- new seminar in Liberation Theologies of Latin America, Africa, and Asia (yes, all of them, or some of all of them; undergrad course) -- and here are our books:

Virginia Fabella and R.S. Sugirtharajah, eds., Dictionary of Third World Theologies (now out in paperback)
Gustavo Gutiérrez, Essential Writings, ed. James B. Nickoloff
Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Bead and Strands: Reflections of an African Woman on Christianity in Africa
Kwok Pui-lan, Introducing Asian Feminist Theology
Mev Puleo, The Struggle Is One: Voices and Visions of Liberation
Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches

... and a reliable translation of the Bible for reference.

There will be articles too - on South African Black Theology, Filipino Theology of Struggle, et al.

Still working on other projects -- writing, church, diocesan convention, and various others. I need a personal assistant is what I need. Also some sleep. Hoping for a full night tonight. We'll see.

My godson is back in school also and I'm going to write him a "yay! team!" note.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A new godson!

I've just become a godmother. (Again.) No, not of a baby. Of a 22-year-old young man. We baptized him this morning, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. He has been attending our little church/chaplaincy in Greensboro and had never been baptized, and recently he requested baptism. (I am, by the way, writing all this with his permission. I'm careful about the privacy of family, friends, and anyone I have remotely or not so remotely dealt with in pastoral care or teaching.) His partner, another young man in his twenties, is a cradle Episcopalian and they have been coming to liturgy together these last months.

My new godson is named Robbie and, as the proud godmomma, I must tell you that in addition to being a sweet and good human being, he is a budding physicist with a background in math and computer science. Like many young adults he has had his ups and downs (so have some of us middle-aged folks) and it was good to receive and celebrate the love of God, the power of the Spirit, and the support of the community of the friends of Jesus. Our Chaplain, Kevin, preached a wonderful sermon and the small congregation sang happily and with gusto, and Robbie has been glowing with a beautiful warm smile.

Baptismal sponsors (Robbie had three) aren't necessarily called godparents, but Robbie and I both want to use that term, so I am his godmother and he is my godson. I am deeply honored that he asked me to be his godmother for many reasons you can imagine and many more besides.

Pray for Robbie and rejoice that he prays with us. Rejoice in the gifts that he and his partner bring to the community of faith. It was good for all of us in the church to renew our baptismal promises today. Thanks be to Godde! Alleluia.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yeah, I know, allegedly not blogging...

... which you'd never know from the posts below ...

... but really, I'm not all here, and just flit in and out of here for stress relief and contact with (some of) the outside world, or maybe more like contact with the inner circle! (Have I said recently how much I appreciate this lovely crowd of cyberfriends? Some of whom I also know in person.) How interesting this blogging life is. Sometime when I am out from under Three Big Projects and the beginning of the semester,* I will blog about all this ;-).

Also am taking more time for prayer (see all of the above), hence the tenor of some recent posts (more here).

* and Diocesan Convention, which is fast upon us. We're not in crisis though, just busy.

Keep me in your prayers, please.

Flagging "The Flag"

Very, very thoughtful post by More Cows at You've Really Got to Love Your People. More Cows is a young rural pastor and she's well worth a read! Travel on down the road and have a look here at what she says about the United States flag, flags on houses, flags in sanctuaries, and the war in Iraq. Wyld, whom she mentions, is a Marine. (I think he or his family may be members of More Cows's congregation, I haven't read up on him.)

Friday cat blogging on Saturday


I'm not supposed to be up there with the pottery collection, but I look so perfect and I really didn't disturb anything, except for the tile behind me. Why does she have a tile in the middle of all those pots anyway? She needs something rounded there. Like a cat.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yesterday's Psalm 139

I don't know if this has to do with my so far half-baked Epiphany resolution involving some kind renewed attention to contemplation and/or receptivity to Godde's grace, but I received a new insight into Psalm 139. New to me, anyway.

I love the Psalms and pray them often.

So yesterday, in search of scriptural solace and focus for my day, I turned to online Morning Prayer* and decided to pray the morning Psalms aloud. I often find this (saying the Psalms aloud) makes a difference and slows me down.

* Handy thing to do if you are overly internet-focused: make the first visit in the morning to the Daily Office site. THEN go to the news, the blogs, the e-mail inbox, or whatever lures you most strongly.

Psalm 138 and 139 were the Psalms appointed for the day.

Many of you know Psalm 139 (Lord, you have searched me and known me...). It's one of the oldie goodies, like Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd...) and Psalm 42 (As a deer longs for flowing streams...) and Psalm 51 (Have mercy on me, O God..., a.k.a. the Miserere) and Psalm 121 (I lift up my eyes to the hills...). In consequence, we often have trouble hearing it in a new key. *

* Handy tip: try reading a different translation if a text has gone stale for you. If you speak more than one language, read it in your second (or third) language. If neither of those is a possibility, try the read-aloud option. You may be amazed.

By God's grace I heard the Psalm in a new key.

For some reason, Psalm 139 had taken on for me a combination of "God knows everything about you" (a sort of divine CIA writ large) and "Hound of Heaven" meanings. * Nota bene: I loathe "The Hound of Heaven." Words cannot express how much I can't stand that poem and most of the spirituality it contains. Doesn't do it for me. Feels violent. Doesn't feel like Godde. Is not my experience. (It may be yours. Good. Stick with it, then.)

This time, it didn't echo within in the same way. This time, the words felt more like "God is there to undergird every one of your steps." They were about the reliability of Godde. They were about the presence of God, not as someone who hounds us, but as someone upon whom we can lean.

Presence, not pursuer.

The "knowledge too wonderful for me," the limbs written in God's book, those led to marvel and mystery and contemplation.

More I cannot say, but this gives you a flavor of the experience.

How it is that two people, or the same person on different days or at different times in life, can hear or read the same words differently?

Interpretation matters and context matters and the Bible is not a static book. It is as alive as we are and as the Holy Spirit is.

I am just grateful that this Psalm has been redeemed for me and that it led me into "wonder, love, and praise." (Not the hymn, though I do love it; thank you, Charles Wesley.)

Yes, I varied the spelling of God/de on purpose. Take your pick or use 'em both.

Journalism festival in Perugia

I know, I'm allegedly not posting, and in fact I have no deep thoughts to share, but a little cut-and-paste to feed the information flow is what I do have.

This just in from my one and only sibling, who is involved in the event.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM FESTIVAL, Perugia, Italy, April 9-13, 2008.

It's free but one must book attendance. Reservations open March 1.

Wish we had one of these in the U.S. Not going to happen.

View of Perugia below.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

No, sillies, that is not a political insult. It's a bird.




This comes to us courtesy of the good folks at Greensboro Birds, whom we have not been reading enough these days.

Weather is in the low sixties. Balmy but scary. It shouldn't be this warm in January.

Silly Six Meme

Two people tagged me for this one, Eileen and pj.

(pj, I think it's pronounced "meem" but I wouldn't swear to it.)

And you know I will get ten times more comments on this post than I ever have on something about theology, politics, race, or other Serious Stuff.

Rules:

- Link to the person who tagged you.
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
- Tag six people and at the end of your post, link to their blogs.
- Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'm tagging no one 'cause I hate tagging people (does that count for one of the six silly things?) and I don't want to get anyone all resentful. (No, I'm not mad at you, pj and Eileen. This was fun.) And I'm feeling contrary. (That's contrary in general and not mad at anyone, really. Call it Deadline Disease or Pre-Semester Blues or something.)

1. I don't like flat landscapes.

2. I actually like caviar. (No, I can't afford it, but once in a blue moon someone serves some to me somewhere. I don't go looking for it. Except in sushi restaurants where I order ikura, which is salmon roe.) (Though I just read while searching for a photo link that it's full of PCBs. Shoot. Well, since I only eat it a few times a year I'm cool.)

3. I can't get up the energy to do dishes or put things away or clean house late at night, but when I first get up I actually want to do it and it helps me get the day started. (You'd think I'd learn to get up an hour earlier than planned so as to get all that stuff done, but noooo.)

4. Suburbs or anything resembling them (malls, streets with names of flowering trees and houses that all look alike, no history visible in the landscape) make me nuts. Give me the inner city or a country village instead.

5. I have five incisors on my bottom jaw. Plus all my wisdom teeth, which gives me more teeth than any dentist has ever seen in any patient. (I'm cheating on this one, I had written about it in the Six Weird Things meme.) Chomp, chomp. Don't get on my wrong side or I'll bite your head off.

6. When I need to get started on writing something that's not a meme, I sometimes put on a song I love really loud on the boom box and play it and play it and play it and sometimes sing along with it. Ranges from the Taizé "Per Crucem" or "Surrexit Dominus" or "Laudate Dominum" to Leonard Bernstein's "Simple Song." To various things I've posted on this blog, some of which won't play or link any more because eSnips changed its copyright practices ("We Are Family" or Juice Newton's "Queen of Hearts" or various samba and soul things). Or this YouTube of "Siyahamba" and "Oh Freedom.") Sometimes I get up and dance. Or sometimes I just listen to something over and over, like "Vois sur ton Chemin" from the movie "Les Choristes" or various things by Bach. Listening to the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto used to get my writing jump-started (kind of a Pavlov's Dog thing) but I don't think it does that any more. Come to think of it, I should put it on and try. 'Bye, gotta go.

pj's right, I have no time to do this. :-b

P.S. Eight Random Things Meme here And you already saw the link to the Six Weird Things meme above. Now you know all.

We should hear this one more often

God forgives you.
Forgive others;
forgive yourself.

*********-A New Zealand Prayer Book

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thank you! We raised over 10 K for the City of God!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We did indeed raise over $10,000 for the congregation of Cristo Rei in Cidade de Deus, one of Rio de Janeiro's poorest neighborhoods.

Details here.

Later today (I have to work now) I will add a label called "Christmas Appeal and Theology 2008" to all those posts titled "[Number] Day of Christmas: Latin American reflection and appeal" so readers can more easily get access to the series I posted for the twelve days of Christmas. It may be a good resource for those of you interested in Latin America, poetry, liberation theologies, feminist theologies, contextually conscious theologies, and theology and Christianity in general. It will also enable you to read the posts in sequence and all in one place.

Most of all, HURRAH AND THANK YOU!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's only fair: Senator Clinton's acceptance speech

It's not about charisma or moments, but still. We savored the Barack Obama moment, let's savor the Hillary Rodham Clinton moment.

Video here.

"I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice."

Echoes of this.

Blogging may be a little scarce for a few days, but there is a lot to read below...

I need to take a little time off from being chatty, so bear with me (and pray for me) for a few days. Plenty to read and look at below since I was overly loquacious during the holidays.

And there will be more pictures and catch-up tales of Istanbul soon. Including one gorgeous mosque picture. Okay, here's a preview.* We'll revisit this place when I am back in circulation. Peace out.

* Yes, slanted on purpose so it would all fit in. Tilt your head, please. Click to enlarge.


Mosque and fishers in Ortakoy, December sunset. Photo: Jane Redmont

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Women Are Never Front-Runners"

Important op-ed by Gloria Steinem in today's New York Times. I'm pasting the whole thing here since you might have trouble with the web link to the Times if you don't have a login (it's free though, so I will also post the link for you in case you want to start reading the Times online).

Read. Discuss.

WOMEN ARE NEVER FRONT-RUNNERS

The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.

That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.

But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”

Correction: An earlier version of this Op-Ed stated that Senator Edward Kennedy had endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. He has not made an endorsement in the 2008 presidential race.

Gloria Steinem is a co-founder of the Women’s Media Center.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Epiphany resolution(s)


I've been thinking about this New Year's resolution thing, mostly because people on blogs have been pondering it too.

I can't remember what my resolution was last year.

I seem to remember I decided not to make one because I didn't need the pressure (I've got some stress in my life and a lot of it has to do with being evaluated) and/or because I never kept the resolutions I made.

Also, people's resolutions (mine included) always seem to be about losing weight or becoming better at something or achieving something.

Problem with the first one: It's not a New Year thing, it's an always thing: you gotta change your eating and exercise habits. And if it's the same resolution every year, it loses its punch -- in which case it should be a New Year thing, but just once.

Problem with the second and third ones: I have so much getting-better-at and achieving and fix-this and you-gotta- in my life right now because of external circumstances (some work-related, some others) and so many internal messages about that sort of thing to begin with that those two kinds of resolutions are a really bad idea; maybe not for someone else, but for me. It would be far better for me to meditate on the grace of Godde. (No, I am not becoming a Lutheran.)

More fundamental problem: I don't really live by the calendar-year calendar. The IRS lives by the calendar-year calendar and as a citizen I comply with that. (Until such time as I have the guts to do tax resistance and stop paying for war. In which case I would still have to abide by a calendar.) The diocesan budget lives by the calendar-year calendar and I work with that. The school at which I teach lives by the academic calendar, and so, programmatically, does the chaplaincy with which I am associated. Parts of my brain will always live by the academic calendar because it has so often and so long been a part of my life.

But the true calendar by which I live and on which I (try to) run my life is the liturgical calendar, the Christian year. Truth be told, I also pay a lot of attention to the Jewish liturgical calendar, for family and other reasons, and I watch and know a lot of the other religious calendars --Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Buddhist-- because of vocational, personal, and occupational inclinations and commitments. Still, the measure of my days is the cycle of Christian prayer, the rhythm of the church year. "Season" to me means Advent, Christmas, Epiphanytide, Lent, Easter, Pentecost as much as winter and spring.

My body, of course, keeps track of the earth's seasons, as do my heart and mind and whatever else I am made of. And here in the Northern Hemisphere many of the church feasts (and the Jewish festivals) have seasonal or earth-based or agricultural connections.

Still, the calendar by which I run my life at the most fundamental and intentional level, and which has become part of me, beyond intention, is the liturgical one.

All this to say that I am rethinking the matter of resolutions in light of Epiphany.

In Epiphany we celebrate the manifestation of Christ and the love of God and the presence of the Spirit to the whole world. From there to "this year, how can I participate in this light that shines forth?" there is only a short step.

It may be, of course, that my resolution(s) has (have) to do with something more inward: a decision to devote more time each day to contemplation, to receiving the gift of grace, to multitask less, to sit still more. None of these is a "let your light shine" kind of activity, at least in the short term. (And it would be dangerous, I think, to think of them as means to an end. Prayer and contemplation are also useless, and Dorothee Soelle talks in her book on mysticism and resistance about Meister Eckhart's sunder warumbe, "without a why or a wherefore" which is how we are called to love Godde.) But I am pondering this idea of an Epiphany resolution, or perhaps "resolution" is the wrong word. An Epiphany promise seems to fit me better, and it is a commitment I could keep.

It might also lead me to think about January resolutions in the light of baptismal promises.

All for now. I welcome your thoughts.

Photo: Winter Waterfront, Kadiköy (Jane Redmont). (Click to enlarge.)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Well over $9,000 for the City of God! and still counting!

Let's make it $10,000, folks!

You heard it here first. C',mon. Give our friends five figures.

From a wonderful circle of cyberfriends in several countries gifts have come for the parish of Cristo Rei in Cidade de Deus, Rio de Janeiro. The Episcopal Church of St. Paul (Chatham, NJ, U.S.A.) and St. Francis Church (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, U.K.) have been receiving cheques ("checks" for you estadounidenses), and St. Paul's has set up a PayPal, as many of you already know.

See details here.

TOMORROW DURING THE DAY (Monday, January 7, 2008) IS THE CUT-OFF DATE! (And we'll still take a check if you mail it tomorrow. )

All the financial transactions are being processed by an ultra-scrupulous, competent, honest, keeping-track-of-everything, transparency-is-our-motto church financial officer.

We intend to be a place where all are welcome to be free, especially in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) neighborhood, where poverty, violence and hunger are so well-known. And in order to live this Gospel of liberation and reconciliation of the entire world through Christ Jesus, we also seek to integrate the Church with society, through several social projects. Our mission is bold: to say that Christ is the King is to say that love has the last word in the midst of this world of calamities. However, we are sure that, with Him, we are victorious. (Luiz Coelho on the congregation of Cristo Rei)

AND DON'T FORGET TO GET YOUR ANIMAL COMPANIONS TO GIVE! Maya Pavlova says "If I did it, you can too!"

(She'll also whack you with her Prayer Book if you don't comply with her orders.)

Epiphany sermon (from five !!! years ago)

I can't believe it's been that long. I thought it was three years ago, four at most, that I'd preached this sermon.

Anyway, I wanted to share it. Here it is.

But first:

After the Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) was read, I played (think of this as an Anthem, but not in the usual Episcopal style ;-)) a tape of the James Taylor song, "Home By Another Way." If you have a recording of it, have a quick listen again. For those of you who don't know the song, here are the words. Just skim them -- you'll find many of them again in the sermon.

**********************************************
"Home By Another Way"by Timothy Mayer and James Taylor

[no copyright date available, think it's 1988]

Those magic men the Magi
Some people call them wise
Or Oriental, even kings
Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus
They sure enjoyed their stay
Then warned in a dream of King Herod's scheme
They went home by another way


Yes they went home by another way
Home by another way
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too
And go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way


Steer clear of royal welcomes
Avoid a big to-do
A king who would slaughter the innocents
Will not cut a deal for you
He really, really wants those presents
He'll comb your camel's fur
Until his boys announce they've found trace amounts
Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh


Time to go home by another way
Home by another way
You have to figure the Gods saying play the odds
And go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way


Home is where they want you now
You can more or less assume that you'll be welcome in the end
Mustn't let King Herod haunt you so
Or fantasize his features when you're looking at a friend


Well it pleasures me to be here
And to sing this song tonight
They tell me that life is a miracle
And I figured that they're right
But Herod's always out there
He's got our cards on file
It's a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch
Old Herod likes to take a mile


It's best to go home by another way
Home by another way
We got this far to a lucky star
But tomorrow is another day
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way


****************************************************

During the sermon, I sang a capella all the lines of the James Taylor song that you will see below in italics.

Second Sunday after Christmas / Eve of Epiphany
January 5, 2003
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley

Jeremiah 317-14
Psalm 84
Ephesians 13-6,15-19a
Matthew 21-12


Christmas
is a season,
twelve days long
despite what the stores would have us think.
They are probably prepping their displays for Valentine’s Day
even as we sit here.
And here
we are
on the eleventh day of Christmas,
hearing the Gospel for the twelfth day,
the Epiphany Gospel,
about the wise men and their gifts
and their long journey.

This really is a scary story.
We have the baby Jesus,
still with us, thanks be to God,
and the star,
and they don't move.
This doesn't mean they aren't actors,
***–one can be an actor
***and not move.
But the ones who move around today, the actors with the big parts
are the Magi and Herod;
and Herod
is about as creepy a Bad Guy as you can get.
This is Christmas?
Geez. Not very fun and fluffy.
Now Herod
is petrified.
Because that baby
is a threat to everything he stands for,
but he isn't sure how.
Which scares the daylights out of him even more
because Herod
looooves to control the action.
So
he goes into Major Herod Mode.

The Magi
don't figure this out at first,
when he is doing his first Herod maneuver,
which is
lying:
"Ooooh, go find that baby, I want to worship him toooo!"

Right.
And I’m Queen Victoria.

So the Magi
get a little assist (in their sleep)
after making their visit to Bethlehem,
and they take
a detour,
avoiding the return visit to Herod.

Then
in the scene after the Gospel we just heard
and which we know is coming
Herod
really goes ballistic,
and he moves into even more intense Herod mode,
and commits partial genocide,
like old Pharaoh in the days of baby Moses and his Mama,
remember that one?
and goes for all the baby boys.
"Kill ‘em. Kill ‘em all."
So Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus
(also after some help in a dream)
get to become
refugees.

Some Christmas.

So where does that leave us?

Let’s back up a bit and have a look at the story again
with the help of that bard of the Baby Boom generation,
James Taylor.

Those magic men the Magi
Some people call them wise
Or Oriental, even kings
Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus
They sure enjoyed their stay
Then warned in a dream of King Herod's scheme
They went home by another way


Those magic men the Magi
Some people call them wise
Or Oriental, even kings
Well anyway, those guys–


A lot of our imagination has been captured by the Magi
the gold, the smells, the fabulous clothes...
The symbolism of the gifts
–the gold of monarchs, the incense of worship, the myrrh of burial–
The traveling, the search,
the adoration: representatives from the far corners of Earth
kneeling before a tiny child.

Though the text says nothing about this,
***nothing about three people, only about three gifts,
***nothing about kings, only about magoi, "Magi,"
***which can mean several things including interpreters of dreams
***or magicians, or those who deals in particular kinds of knowledge,

legend and custom
have named the so-called "wise men from the East"
three kings.
***Le jour des rois, in France where I grew up,
***"the day of the kings,"
***you eat a special flat cake made of a kind of puff pastry,
***la galette des rois
***and you get a crown, making you king or queen for a day,
***if you find a little charm inside your slice;
***it used to be a bean in olden days,
***but somewhere in the modern era
***it became a little ceramic token
***on which you had to make sure not to break your tooth.
***El Dia de los Reyes in many Latin American, Caribbean, and
***U.S. Latino communities
***also means "the day of the kings"
***and on that day, there is feasting and gift-giving;
***in fact it, not the first day of Christmas,
***is the day you get presents;
***and often there are processions and parades,
***those mini-pilgrimages
***that bring out all the generations
***into the street.

Maybe me and you can be wise guys too –We do tend to identify with the Magi,
although they are, as the story has it,
foreigners of the most foreign sort
Gentiles for sure and not Jews
***–signs to us and to the community of Matthew’s Gospel
***that Jesus’ presence
***had something to say to the wide world
***and not just to the folks at home–
Gentiles from the East,
maybe Persia, maybe the Arabian Peninsula,
at any rate somewhere around what we today call the Gulf.
Yes, that Gulf.
And the Magi were –what? Astrologers or scientists of some kind?
We love to speculate about that one.
It makes the whole story more exotic.
Or maybe not so exotic:
maybe we too, like those fantastic characters
gaze at the heavens
with some human mix of science, superstition, and poetic vision,
beneath and in which
there is some kind of mysterious pull
from the One Who Is
and Was
and Will Be.

We tend to identify with the Magi,
those wandering Gentiles
because of their wandering.
That’s probably what the processions are about.

We don’t tend to identify with the baby Jesus.
He’s Jesus and we’re not
though we were all babies at some point.
And so at Christmas
we shiver with recognition
when God comes
as one of us.

Maybe some of us identify with Mary and Joseph,
the parents gazing upon their child
with awe and responsibility
they’d never felt before,
beyond what they could have imagined
before that birth.

But we don’t identify with Herod.
God forbid!! He’s the bad guy.

Herod, though, is a compelling character in this story.
Perhaps it seems this way
because we live in a time
filled with Herods
and Herod-like ways of operating.

Though as this story makes clear
there have always
been Herods.
And this time
is nothing new.
We might do well
at least this year
to focus a little less
on those guys in the fabulous clothes,
and a little more
on Herod.

Steer clear of royal welcomes
Avoid a big to-do
A king who would slaughter the innocents
Will not cut a deal for you
He really, really wants those presents
He'll comb your camels’ fur
'til his boys announce they've found trace amounts
Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh


Herod, the puppet King,
ruling over the Jews but not one of them,
cuts a deal with the Magi.
Or so it seems.
They have been busy following the star
and are perhaps
dazed by the glitz at Herod’s court,
the trappings of power,
the counselors and ministers assembled around.
Wow, this is the big city.
Jerusalem.
Capital cities make one dizzy.

That’s Herod’s way.
Make ‘em dizzy
with power and glory
and courtiers
and secret plans
spun
in the night.

The Magi leave Jerusalem,
having had their interview with Herod
who has properly briefed them
just enough
hiding the fact that he doesn't really know entirely
what is happening
but that he knows, or thinks, or fears,
that this child is some kind of new leader
for the people he is governing by force;
and if that is indeed the case,
he doesn't like it.
And he’s not going to let this get out of hand.
But he doesn't say that.
He says "Tell me when you find the child.
I want to worship him,
this Messiah."

Lying in what he doesn't say.
Lying in what he does say.
That’s Herod’s way.
Lies
made to look like truth.

But in the next scene,
they visited with Jesus... In the next scene,
at the warm and shining heart of the story,
the Magi
get to gaze at the child,
this blessed one,
in whom the whole world is somehow concentrated
in whom we see our life
and the world’s life
through a new lens.

And we,
seeing them,
hearken back
to Christmas night and Christmas day
when we with the shepherds and their sheep
contemplated
this cosmic, this eternal truth
in ordinary flesh
held in human arms
warmed by the breath
of earthly creatures.

But then
the Magi get word, somehow,
through God’s help,
in one of those moments of clarity
that can only come in the dark of night
that it is not a good idea
to go back to the court of Herod
this petty tyrant who wants to be a really big one.

So they
go home
by another way.

Exeunt the Magi.

They visited with Jesus
They sure enjoyed their stay
Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme
They went home by another way


Herod finds out.
He pitches a fit,
because of course his plan
to use them
***–that’s another Herod mode of operation
***he uses people to his own ends,
***for his own power and not for their good
***or the good of the world–
his plan to use them
has failed.

And that baby is still at large.

So Herod escalates
from lies and manipulation
into that other
characteristic of the Herod way:
Violence.

Being Herod, he doesn't do it halfway.
He uses a combination of targeted and random violence.

This is a very bad scene.
Herod kills babies.
All the boys in one region who are under two years old,
since he is not exactly sure of Jesus’ age and precise location.
So, kill ‘em all.

That’s Herod’s way.

That’s Herod’s way:
Doing violence to Christ.
Doing violence to those who look like Christ:
doing violence to humans,
the more vulnerable the better.
Doing violence to their communities
you can imagine what happens in a community
where children have died in large numbers,
what this does to parents,
to siblings, to families,
to the well-being of an entire region.

Home is where they want you now
You can more or less assume that you'll be welcome in the end
Mustn't let King Herod haunt you so
Or fantasize his features when you're looking at a friend...


The reign of falsehood and violence
also increases the temptation
of internalizing Herod’s deadly means.

The killings raise the question
of how to live in this situation of violence,
how not to have our lives distorted,
whether our violence is in Oakland or Hebron,
in Baghdad or Tel Aviv,
in New York or in Chiapas;
or in our home
if there is violence there
and in more homes than we care to admit
there is,
and home ceases to be home.
Home becomes
Herod’s domain.

Any place can become
his fearful and fearsome playground.

Home is where they want you now
You can more or less assume that you'll be welcome in the end
Mustn't let King Herod haunt you so
Or fantasize his features when you're looking at a friend


How do we watch out for Herod
who is real
and not have the trauma he wreaks upon the world
repeat itself?
How do we not live
in such a way that we see him everywhere
even in nights meant to be restful
even in the face
of those who wish us well?

What a task.

We have to discern the Herods
and their tactics
and speak the truth
in the face of their lies.

And we also have to try to keep our lives
free from Herod’s becoming
our primary obsession,
our own internal engine of destruction.

This is true for those of us
whose lives bear the scars
and the brunt of violence.

It is also true for those of us who inflict violence
or who condone it
or who stand by
and watch it happen.

The violence of wounding and killing.
The violence of manipulation and lies.

How are we distorted by it? How can we learn not to be?

What does it do to us
to live in a country
that sets out to kill people in our name?

What are the ways
in which preparing for war
brutalizes and distorts
all of us?

How do we keep
and cultivate
clarity,
courage,
compassion
and peace?

Keep a weather eye to the chart on high...
James Taylor has his limits as a Christian resource;
though he’s got it right with the first part of that line:
keep a weather eye... Watch
with the eye of one who can see storms coming
and the sun about to rise.
Watch that child.
Watch that steady star of Christ.

That piece is missing in the song.
It’s not the chart on high we Christians watch.
It’s the life,
The warm heart at the core of this story
the Christ child
and the Christ child’s way.

Well it pleasures me to be here
And to sing this song tonight
They tell me that life is a miracle
And I figure that they're right
But Herod's always out there
He's got our card on file
It's a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch
That Herod likes to take a mile


Herod’s always out there.
He was there back then
and he’s there now.
He just has more sophisticated technology.
And he’s not just
out there. He’s not just
the other.
Though he is there
out there
in all his forms.
But he is also
our own temptation.
We've got to face him outside ourselves
and
we've got to face him within.

Are we going to live with the tactics of Herod?
Or are we going to live like the child Jesus,
and his mother Mary, and his father Joseph?
Or perhaps, to begin with,
like those wandering Gentiles
who went home changed,
we are not sure how,
but who certainly were never the same.
***We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
***but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation.
That is what T.S. Eliot wrote
in his meditation on the Magi.
They were
no longer at ease
after having glimpsed
the way of the Christ child.

Time to go home by another way

On September 11, 2001,
our presiding bishop, Frank Griswold,
wrote one of the first,
and for me one of the most thoughtful and true
statements to come from religious leaders
on that day.

It was titled
"We are called to another way."

What is that other way?
That way
which is not
the way of the Herods of the world
or of their allies.

Here is part of what our brother Frank wrote that day:
***Never has it been clearer to me than in this moment
***that people of faith,
***in virtue of the Gospel and the mission of the Church,
***are called to be about peace and the transformation of the human heart,
***beginning with our own.
***I am not immune to emotions of rage and revenge,
***but I know that acting on them
***only perpetuates the very violence
***I pray will be dissipated and overcome.


That other way:
We don’t know entirely
what it looks like,
just as the Magi didn't know exactly
what this Messiah baby would be like
or what he might expect of them.

We do know
that this other way
is the way of the child Jesus,
that child who both guides us
and needs our help.

We do know
that is it the way of which his mother Mary sang
as we heard just a few weeks ago:
***the mercy moving from generation to generation
***the hungry fed
***the lowly lifted up
***the powerful brought down from their thrones
***the mercy
***again

The Magi
were called to a way
that wasn't Herod’s way.
But guess what,
it wasn't their way either!
It was a new way to them.
They had to learn it.

Time to go home by another way...

It’s still Christmas
God makes God’s home
among us.
We find a home
in God.

All these travelers and seekers and wanderers and refugees
the Magi
Joseph, Mary, Jesus
and we too
find a true home not in the royal courts
but on the road,
with each other,
in the company of other travelers slightly crazed with the love of God
the God who loved us first.

We keep a weather eye for the guiding light of Christ
even when it is sometimes no brighter than a faraway blinking star.

So we move from the Christmas season to Epiphanytide,
numbering the coming Sundays from that twelfth day of Christmas,
rooting them in this day of the wise ones
when we go on the road
to live the Gospel.

Jesus’ birth:
it makes us uncomfortable
and it brings us home.

***A home we find not in a palace
***but on the way
***together
***lit by the star.
***...home by another way...

***********************Jane Carol Redmont