09 August 2017

We totally got this...


My Mom was SOOOOO mad when this came in the mail! Number 68 (Aug/Sep 1982) of the Wittenburg Door. It showed what you see up there. And the back page said, "All this and hemorrhoids too." Or words to that effect. Well, the woman who worked at the Post Office in 12790 was shocked and horrified that a teenager would be getting such stuff in the mail. She called my Mom inside. Mom was beyond livid when she got home... and I said, "well, it's a Christian Humor Magazine."

I'm bringing this up now in light of our current re-escalated Cold War or perhaps better, Korean Missile Crisis to say to all my social media friends for whom this is new territory, Chill the Frog Out.

Every GenXer out there, slack and shiftless though they may seem, has survived a frogging cold war. We've lived through a stupid president with an insane military and an angry, prideful populace poking sticks at triggerhappy enemies. We don't talk about it a lot because no one likes to talk about the war they survived - it's dark and cold and no one listens anyway. All we've got now is a stupid President who doesn't know how to act his age (near death...) and a Trigger Happy doofus that looks mostly like a Macy's Parade Balloon.

Who would've thunk we could be in the middle of another one again? It's actually not so bad. But, I got some advice for you. Treat this as coming from your crazy Uncle Festus, who looks like this:


But can be quite smart sometimes.

Rule 1: Let them go. From here on out everything that you do or don't do will be turned into both pro-American and Anti-American propaganda. If you go out into the streets one side will say "See the people don't support their govt" and the other side will say, "See we are free here, you can't even spell freedom. Sad." If you don't go out into the streets, one side will say "See they support me." And the other side will say, "See you've kowtowed them into obedience like a dictator."  Let them go. Make your moral choices based on whatever lights you may have and try not to pay them too much attention.

Rule 2: It's going to be scary sometimes. Poking sticks and sabre rattling is hella hard work. Also, it's basic terrorism 101. Scare your people and they will do what you want them to do. Let your enemy scare your people and tell them the only way to save them is do what you want them to do. They will try really hard to scare us. Get ready because it's going to be scary sometimes. Scarier than a holographic Jackson Five Reunion tour or a Creeping Russian Theocracy. That brings up

Rule 3: Don't let them scare you. Seriously. When they say "We're going to bomb San Francisco." Come to SF and start a Banking Rush. It works. All the Alex P. Keatons moved here in the 80s and took over. And that was just the beginning. Go get a job, raise kids, grow peanuts, find a spouse, pay your taxes, file your S-1s, watch the latest movie, buy good food, good beer, and good booze. Don't let anyone scare you into buying guns, freeze-dried food, or extra tanks of water. See following.

Rule 4: There is no way to survive one. Seriously. If you're in a city, you're going to die. If you're not in a city, there won't be power, internet, food delivery, water, air conditioning, Whatever. All gone. Think: Mad Max and Walking Dead throw a holiday party and kill anyone that looks normal. Unless you already are that person and you know who I mean, you're not them because you're reading this, but, unless you already are that person, you won't get to become that person in the 18mins that we will have.

It's tempting to think (or to be tempted by marketers into thinking), "Give me a gun and some thicker plate glass, some blast curtains, 300lbs of freeze dried soup and a tub of gin and I'll sit it out."

But it's not like that at all. Realism is so important when dealing with gov't bullshit.

Seriously, this is why you just keep going. Get up, make love, wash the car, feed the cat, go to work, go hiking, and one day you will just evaporate. There will be a cool shadow - just like in the last episodes of Battlestar Galactica. That's it.

Far more important that being scared (because they say to), and getting ready (as if), or fighting them (because a different them says to) and making a fuss of any kind at all, is zeroing out all the static and living your life. My generation learned this from Mr Spock. "This is illogical." Right now the world seems to learn from Dr Who, who is like the world biggest drama queen super hero. Sure, things get fixed, but, gah, all the feelz.

Let them go.

If you are the praying kind, this will make sense: go to confession more often.

But even if you're not the praying sort, I advise making peace with whatever friends you have, loving whatever enemies you have, apologizing to the opposite side of the political spectrum, and to your own side as well, pay off your debts, and then, just try loving people more.

Seriously.

This plan totally worked the last time. And the time before that. And before that. And it won't make your hemorrhoids better if you stress out all the time.


05 August 2017

The Luminous Mysteries: the Broken Road


Antiphon: God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In your baptism, O Christ, our God, you opened the pathway of initiation for us, into your Mysteries. I thank you for all who have moved me along this path, awkward and jerking though I have been. I've been on my way in for so long. And I have to thank those men who held the door open: the Pastor at the Marietta Baptist Tabernacle that wouldn't know a trinity from a hole in the ground, and did it all wrong... but he taught me how to swim. And Pastor Pinto who gave me communion first. And Jim Lowery who got me wet again - this time in all the right names, and it stuck... Then Paul Moore with Henrician hands, but wait we'll try again. And Bill Swing, who welcomed me back into Christ's flock after I had gone a Paganing. And then Father Victor, who Confessed, Chrismated, and Absolved me into the Church Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. There was another turn unexpected, and Father Michael welcomed me into communion with Peter. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

At the wedding, O Christ, you changed the water into wine. The things we offer are not divine, but what we offer in good faith, you take, and change, and elevate. And all the things I thought I'd have to carry all this way, you let me drop. All the things that were not according to your plan. But each one taught me by not being yours, each one held me in arms that were not love... but so nearly there... that I could not but keep looking, more and more, in the right direction. Do what ever he tells you, and you said, love... and I tried loving and even through I was wrong, you took it - and drew it deeper into yourself, the jars were full, the guests were drunk: and you brought out the best wine last.  God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In preaching and proclaiming the kingdom, O Christ, you laid out in words, in simple human terms, the divine truths of all time. And I would be woefully arrogant if I did not know and see all the places you have taught me. I would not be me if it were not for Pastor Pinto, Pastor Lowery, Jeanette and David, my Sunday School teachers, these people gave me love for the Bible. And Pastor Lowery opened the door to John Wesley's writings - and they, in turn, showed me the Church Fathers. And Mr Witkowsky opened my high school brain to history, and Dr Carlson confirmed the Freshman me in those mysteries. Jim Carse showed me the Tao and Games, and Frank Peters (SJ) showed me the Torah and the Church. Nina and then Starhawk danced me round the spiral for ten years, then Shadwynn called a change and Donald and Rick brought me back to Christ. And then they again opened to me the Fathers as well: and so out again to Fr Victor and Fr Joseph, to a wider Dance with Sare and Cam. In the end, though, stumbling along, it was Steve and Steve and Mom and Dad pointing the way. Then Michael. And again Father Michael, and last, my little brother, Joey... God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

On the Mountain, your truth was revealed. All things that are, are yours. Nothing that is isn't yours. Only, without you, nothing alone is strong. Your light is all - and there is naught but darkness where you are not. And by your light, we see light everywhere. And so I can thank you deeply, that I have known the joys of all the wrong places, and I have known those pains as well. I have never once stopped looking, but you were always further along, just a light around the corner. A couple of times I thought, let me rest here... but no, the light was higher up the mountain; further up, and further in. You were in the cloud and I, unknowing, stumbled right into your arms. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

Bread and wine are your body and blood. And Christ, there, is the mystery in sum. The things of this earth are made divine - see it in water, see it in the wedding, see it in the words we use to proclaim you, see it by your light in all light: this broken world, is transubstantiated by your grace. The whole damned thing is lifted up and blessed and broken, and it is you that we receive when we take it up in love. Every fracture, every quake, every tear, every wet eye, sobbing lung, and running nose, is held up in your hands, every broken heart is not healed but rather is iconified by the offering, made into your image which is the only true image there ever was, is, or ever can be. What is not you is not. And under the weaving of failure, runs the water of blessing, changed into the wine of love. Under the waving of the rotted grains of earth is the bread of heaven - and the whiskey of life. You, God, this broken road, is your narrow path destroyed by us in our pride, and damning ourselves to walk the other way, you went behind us and said, "boo". Interception! God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.




Joyous Mysteries: Addiction

The Angel came to Mary. Most of us won't ever get there. But our conscience calls out to us. That comes from Latin works meaning "with knowledge" and St Paul says we have the law of God written in our hearts... When that voice calls out we can listen like Mary. It never calls us to our addiction, but away. We rarely listen, but we can...

And we are never called to face this alone. Somewhere a friend or loved one, awaits our message, our help, and our need. We do not need to sit alone, waiting in the dark. Our family ties, social obligations, work duties feel like intrusions on our fears, our concerns, our addictions and they are, exactly, that: or seen another way, they are the way out.

The birth of Hope shines out. Every day is Christmas. If we will let it be so, every day Christ is born in the cattle stall and dung of our hearts and fills them with heaven. The light is there to burn away the thorns and dirt; to fill us with love. We can't wait until everything is just right. God is now here.

Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, God offered to God; God living the terms of his own covenant. God follows the rules he gave us, the rules he wove into the very fabric of space and time by his own hand. For God, two plus two can never equal five. These are his plan. 2+2=4 because that is Truth and God is Truth in himself. He can never decree untruth. And, with them written in our hearts, we do well to see the rules, the laws and follow God himself. We don't always, and things get out of hand.

And one day Jesus ran away. Or did he get separated from his family and go to the only safe place he knew? Was there some teaching to impart that would later yeild a fruitful harvest? We will know later...

But whatever happened, parents get scared, the all-too-human fear of loss arises, plans destroyed. And yet there is Jesus, safe and sound in God's house, on God's business; no matter how out of control it all looks. Where's my red stapler? Who moved my cheese? How in all Creation will I ever get that done without my sense of control? Let it go.

God has come to us as one of us.
In every thing like us save sin.
Our addictions are known to him
Our pains and loss as well.
Yeild it all over to him.

And it will be transubstantiated.

Christ is born.

03 August 2017

Dolorous Mysteries: Addiction


When Christ is praying in the garden he faces the darkness. He knows the reality of sin, the hardness of the world. The fear is real. He is at rock bottom. Everything he thought he had, all that he is, all that he has said and done is over. There is only one way out. He turns his life over to God - whom no one better than he understands - and says, "I trust you to do this."

When Christ is scourged at the pillar how like us with addictions is he, feeling over and over the pains that rack us, the torments that rip us apart. How like us is he, so weakened by the blows that he falls down, held up only by the device of torture itself. How unlike us is he who, feeling this pain, still reaches out to us in love to say God now shares your pain. It is real pain, real blood, real flesh torn apart. But it is the way out.

They cut him down he passes out. The soldiers to pass the time mock him: dress him up and crown him with thorns. They slap him awake and laugh at him. How like us in our throes of addiction or, in our struggle for sobriety, how like us when our friends now mock us and taunt us. The heart is broken. The mocking hurts. The slapping is the easy part for it wakes us up and we realize this was never love. And yet we must reach out to him: and love all the more. These things from our past that taunt us: it's not a loss for it was never a gain.

But it's gone, and the memories stab deep.

Some days, though. Let's be honest, most days, really... it's just normal. We have to get up and walk. We feel the pains from within, but they are not so strong. We remember the mocking, but whatever. It's a normal day. We have to keep walking. This is our life. Keep walking. Wake up and feel these reminders, and keep walking. Stand, sometimes fall. Keep walking. This is the Via Dolorosa, but it is the Via Gloriosa, we are walking with him. He carries the cross as we must. Our very life patterns, our weaknesses, we keep walking. He is walking beside us, and he, like Simon, helps us. Gives us his strength, until it's not us at all. Keep walking. It's him.

Keep walking.

Then in the end.

Death.

We reach the end and we die crucified on our life. His death was a sacrifice of redemption. His death on the cross ripped open the fabric of the universe and light and life pours in. We must die as well. 100% of us will die. Everyone who has ever lived has died. We will die.

No choice.
We cannot choose when.
We cannot choose where.
We cannot choose how.

But we can choose why.

We can choose to die to self to live for him. We can choose to offer all the pain, all the scourges, the fears, the mockings, the slaps, the walking. We can choose to unite every last grief and sorrow to him, through him, with him, and in him to God's purposes, to God's glory, and God's salvation of the world.

Then in the end.

Death has no sting.
The grave has no victory.
The bars of brass have been broken down from the inside out.

Christ is Risen.

01 August 2017

Interactive Birthday!


Happy August - or Fogust, as we say in SF (see above)! Birthday #53 is coming up at the end of the month. I'd like to do something fun, but I need all my social media peeps to play along. So...

I'd like scratchers - IE those scratch-off lottery tickets - from as many American places as I can get. I'd like to play scratch off on a live video on by birthday (or there'bouts) and drink a beer and tell jokes. And generally have fun.

It's possible there would be a winner as well, so splitsies. To be honest, I've never won more than $5 on a scratcher and i don't expect to win. But maybe we'll have a fun video time! If you wanna send me a birthday card, ping me and I'll get an address to you. If you ask and I decline, it's cuz I'm creeped out. Strangers do not get to play! Also - American tickets only, can't quite figure out how we'd deal with the taxes otherwise.

Non-winning tickets will be made into an art project.

All that said, if you don't like the idea at all, there's always my Amazon Wishlist which has a few not-Amazon things on it as well, so if you don't know my address... be careful :-)

The right way to end scandal


Today's readings:
Mittet Filius hominis angelos suos, et colligent de regno ejus omnia scandala, et eos qui faciunt iniquitatem.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
Matthew 13:41

This is one of those very comforting verses. Jesus knows - from the beginning - that scandals will be in his Church. And he doesn't offer much by way of advice other than "leave them alone lest we damage the weaker (good) plants in the field."

There is rather a huge cottage industry on the internet of Christians tearing down other Christians. It's nearly funny when it is (eg) liberal fundamentalists and conservative fundamentalists attacking each other, but it is often made all the more sad when it is internecine incivility: Catholics attacking Catholics, or Orthodox attacking Orthodox.

And in the eyes of the world - who can't tell a Calvinist from a Capuchin - this game of Christians ripping each other up is just pure fun.

Thing is: tearing down one another in public is not what we're supposed to be doing.

Even serious scandals (you can think of a few: children, embezzlement, gay sex, etc) are supposed to be kept inside the Church by the Church, dealt with by canon law, mercy, prayer, and other appropriate means. The Church Fathers tell us not even to hand over a murderer to the police, because he might repent...

Jesus knows humans are messy. His angels will take care of this at the end of time. Be patient.

Jesus has one command for us: love.

Now, we know: love can involve a lot of correction.

But what it doesn't involve is uprooting the bad seed and causing scandal to the weaker good seed.

And the bad seed can always be turned around.

In this day and age, though, we walk in a fishbowl. We should tailor our message to the audience. When there are thousands or millions watching, we can't be ripping new ones for each other.

The world loves that.

Satan just eats it up.

And our souls too.

31 July 2017

Don't Judge me, Bro. Love me.


Today's readings:

Dixitque ad Aaron: Quid tibi fecit hic populus, ut induceres super eum peccatum maximum?
Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you should lead them into a grave sin?”
Exodus 32:21

Recently, I've been blessed to have two friends who are on my back all the time about walking out of Church when it's not about me. I'm not sick. I don't need anointing. I don't need prayer. It's not my wedding. I don't know those people. What do you mean, I should stay and pray for the kids? I pick up all that in my daily practice. I want coffee now.

I'm cutting myself off from the community when I do that: when I could be doing one of the works of mercy, interceding for the living and the dead. I'm failing in love: I'm cutting people off.

The Israelites, you may remember, are involved in idolatry (the Golden Calf). They have despaired of Moses coming back down the mountain and, in truth and logic, are rather afraid of the Thumber Boomer that is hovering over Sinai. They decide they'd much rather have a nearer deity, one that they can control. So they make one.  

Aaron decides to help them.

Moses puts the blame squarely on Aaron - even though Moses will later plead for the entire people of Israel before God. "What", he asks. "Did they ever do to you that you let them sin like this?"

Were Moses alive today, Aaron would have a much better response:

Whoa, dude. Don't judge them. That's all they can handle. I love these people - like God does - i would never make them do something that was too hard for them. God made them this way: so, what harm is there. Try to be more loving...

We use that tack on everyone.

Jesus, would, perhaps, agree.  But he would school the Christians first (the pagans have other issues...)

We are exactly supposed to love.  And, exactly, we can't judge.  But what do those things mean?

Well, "judge" means to presume God's role: the Greek is κρίνω, krino  and it means to cut off or to cut out. When I judge you I cut you off from God's mercy (mentally, that is) I can't damn you to hell. And, when it comes to weighing your sin against mine, mine out classes yours by several metric tonnes every time. So... don't judge.

But love, now... our current understanding of love (like my understanding of Good, yesterday) is a bit off, flaccid, impotent. We don't want love: we want disinterested regard. We want people to smile and let us alone. We don't love, we smile and look the other way. Or, sometimes, we watch. But we never actually consider - because that might make someone feel judged.

To Love, though, to ἀγάπη agape someone, in the way of God, after Jesus' commandment, is to will the good of the other - even to your own sacrificial death. 

The good of the other, though, is not a license to do whatever the other wants. Sometimes they don't want the good, the beautiful, the true. To love them is to want them to move that way. (Although that same love should know that to force is impossible: love woos, draws, invites.) To Love is to dance. But also, realizing when some steps are out of order, to Love is either to correct or let go; to show them the right steps, or to move out of the way so that no one gets trodden upon.


Love does not simply say, "I will always love you, do whatever you want." Love says, rather, "I love you. I will always hope, will, work, and desire for you to come with me on the journey to beauty, goodness, and truth, no matter what you are doing contrariwise." If asked, Love should be honest and say, "Yeah, don't do that because it's not the best thing for your salvation, and I would really want you saved: before me, even."

I fail in love constantly.

Look at today's Gospel. 

Simile est regnum cælorum fermento, quod acceptum mulier abscondit in farinæ satis tribus, donec fermentatum est totum.
The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.
Matthew 13:33b

I heard a Bible scholar once talk about how, in those days, yeast was not a powder that people could buy at the store, but rather yeast was a culture that people carried around and they were afraid to lose it. This woman, he said, had done something foolish and lost her yeast by using it all up. (That, happily in his eyes, robbed this saying of all meaning and, therefore, Jesus never said it.) For all that he seemed to know about history - and all he claimed to know about the Bible - this teacher knew nothing about baking bread or keeping yeast happy. 

Yes, you do as he said. And, yet, yes you do as Jesus described. You leaven all the flour - and then you set aside a cup or so of the mixture for the next time. Jesus knew his Momma's recipe: he knew how to bake bread. Jesus is telling us that if we do our job as Church (that is, as the Kingdom of Heaven) the entire world be leavened: will become the Kingdom.

Yeast does not raise bread by disinterested regard. 

Yeast needs to get into the flour, pardon the pun. Yeast eats the flour, burps out gas and has babies. This is the bread rising, the babies have babies, they burp out more gas, everything changes.

The Church is not the Church, the Christian is not the Christian, if she is not loving - that is actively willing and working for the good of the world - the changing of the world, the salvation of souls around us, the making of everything into the Kingdom, that is the Church.

What did this people do to you that you lead them into such sin? Jesus will ask of you when you have let your children leave the Church without a fight. When you have let you friends go their entire lives without realizing what you do very secretly (it seems) on Sunday (only, it seems). Jesus will remind us that we were not supposed to Judge - but by walking away, we did exactly judge. We didn't will the good of the other, so we failed to Love. We cut them off from what we would imagine to say is the most important part of our lives. We judged them unworthy.

Aaron was not only failing in love, he was actively allowing the people to sin. He was cutting them off from God. He was committing krino - cutting them off. Judging.

The Church does not love us when she leaves us in sin, her priests are not loving when they leave us alone. They are cutting us off from the path of salvation, they are judging us.

You - me - we may not be commissioned preachers, but we are commissioned to love and not judge. To will the Good of others to our own detriment. To do less is to cut them off, to judge them. How do we do this in a world that doesn't even want to countenance the idea that "good" is anything less that "what feels good to me"? I don't know. The whole world fears not feeling good - us too: it's fear of not feeling good that keeps us in disinterested regard.

I should be giving of myself, my talents, my gifts to the Church, to those who need my prayers, who need the grace God has given me for no other reason than to share it with others.

We need to step out of disinterested regard. To be the Church - and to put up with what that might effect in our lives.

Scary, huh?