Friday, October 17, 2014

jury duty 5

Jury Duty Friday 5 on the Rev Gals Blog

1-2. I've been called to jury duty by getting a letter in the snail mail quite a few times. The very first time I was excited and wanted to serve, but since I was in school plus working as an unlicensed home health care aide a couple days a week in a setting where I couldn't be replaced, I couldn't. A couple times after that some thing or another thing disqualified me. Later on, at least twice I've spent most of the day sitting in the courthouse lounge; one of those times I got called and screened in the courtroom, and then dismissed. The last two times I got a letter I had to excuse myself since I was freelancing as a designer and couldn't afford days or weeks off.

3. I understand that California gets their names from voter registration and driver's license lists.

4. Referring to #1-2, I've never actually gotten picked to serve on a jury.

5. No one ever has summoned me to a US/Federal Court. I'd be happy to serve locally, but The Feds sound a bit intimidating.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

blog action day 2014: inequality

Blog Action Day central, where inequality is the topic for this year 2014.

blog action day logo

For this year's blog action day subject of Inequality, I'm writing about aspects of life in the larger, more extended church and in the local churches. By now everyone knows separate (accommodations, considerations, requirements, opportunities) inherently is unequal. Justice and equality are at least first cousins, probably siblings, and anyone who's reached a certain age – ten years old?! – can cite countless instances of retributive and distributive injustice and inequality.

On to inequality...

For quite a few decades, many mostly mainline denominations / church bodies have been ordaining women as deacons / elders (presbyters, priests) / ministers of word and sacrament. Historically and practically, there are different configurations and permutations in terms of ordination. In some churches the diaconate is a rank of ordination; others consecrate rather than ordain deacons /diaconal ministers. Besides churches where woman deacons and pastors have become routine and expected, several other large denominations, most publicly LDS (Latter-day Saints), LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), and RC (Roman Catholic) recently again have reaffirmed their positions. In those church bodies, maybe mostly in response to grass roots ferment and restlessness, study of scripture on every participatory level has reopened the question of women's role and rank in church leadership. Reopened the question followed by closing the discussion. Current official position in those three church bodies – and probably in some I haven't been following – remains according in their interpretation of scripture, women cannot be ordained. On a side note, women freely preach and teach in both LDS and RC churches, though the LCMS is guarded and circumspect regarding those activities.

We absolutely need to contextualize the gospel into our current cultural and geographical setting, so what worked for someone as recently as a decade ago when they were a student at an urban New Zealand university won't be a good fit for their current living situation in rural Canadian Prairie Land. In their studies of scripture and their affirmations of Jesus Christ as the ultimate authority, some church bodies have agreed to ordain women, others haven't. No one truly can separate culture and style from history, tradition, and (even!) scripture, and a few recently publicized events regarding women's ordination vis-à-vis church have looked suspiciously (to me and others, as well) like a focus on style rather than on substance―but whatever. Although my own reading comes out on the side of allowing and encouraging women's ordination and full participation in all levels of church leadership, it truly is "complicated," and culture, psychology, and even prejudice aside, I appreciate that some people may disagree with me.

I'm far more concerned by unequal treatment accorded to richer, more prominent, more famous church leaders regarding morality and ethics. "Unequal" in the sense of well-connected, more affluent, household names not being held fully accountable for bad behavior. There's a recently revealed case of a newly installed president of a mainline seminary where the guy had admitted to at least two extra-marital affairs whilst serving Big Steeple Churches. So he apologized and somehow gets to stay in his presidency position. In a smaller church with a lesser-known pastor, the pastor would have been expected to resign, would have quit, and would have agreed to counseling before returning to professional service in the church―or the pastor possibly would have left church altogether.

Regarding another too common example of ecclesiastical inequality, an article I read last winter spoke of the high personal, professional, financial cost of pastoral firings for any reason (not only moral misconduct) in the typical local church. The article admitted in that particular Episcopal Church tradition, bishops generally got a golden parachute no matter how severe their failings and shenanigans. Financial and sexual improprieties may be most common, but other ethical violations too frequently happen, with resulting fallout that extends far beyond the person's family, the local church "family," that town, or the denomination/tradition in question.

Not a single person can achieve the absolute obedience that is God's standard for every Christian, and most of us need to rely upon repentance, forgiveness, and grace more often than we wish were necessary. But why the double standard? Why such inequality?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Adam Hamilton – Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It

Revival: Faith as Wesley Live it on Amazon.

Revival: Wesley book coverGotta love the Brothers Wesley and Mom Susanna! I'd hazard to guess anyone who has read any of United Methodist Pastor Adam Hamilton's writing enjoys it, too.

Although "Revival: Faith as [John] Wesley Lived It" covers some basic doctrinal points, more than anything it provides a biographical and geographical overview of the spirits of the more famous Bros Wesley, John and Charles, and of the places they lived in and served in. I love the clear prose with its easygoing conversational style; largish print and relevant section headings help, as well.

I frequently remember John Wesley never renounced his Anglican orders, and it's interesting that Anglicanism has a popular image of being a bit uppity and formal, while Wesleyan churches (Nazarene, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Holiness) that actually are Anglican offshoots are known for serving among society's neediest. With that history along with the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua movement, and assorted revival movements with their reputation for taking the gospel to ordinary everyday people, it surprised me to learn that at first John Wesley thought it was almost wrong for an individual to come to saving faith in a place other than the interior of a church building.

You also get maps, black and white photographs, and resourceful end notes. This book about John Wesley is another essential for any church library, and since it's quick and enjoyable reading, it would be a good choice to lend to one of those people you know who has too many misconceptions about church and Christianity. Final note: I love the bright, sculpted cover design, too!

my amazon review: Spirit of the Wesleys, Spirit of their Times

Friday, October 10, 2014

second friday random 5

Second Friday Random 5

1. How do I sign off in my emails? If it's a a quick note, no salutation and no sig, since my stored signature includes this blog, my fb design page, and linkedin (who takes linkedin srsly? That one's just in case.) For an actual letter, I often sign off with "Peace and hope," because every one of us needs both.

2. If I were an animal TODAY, I'll go with my default domestic cat or wild cat, because I can choose to do what I please all the time, I can be cuddly snuggly or not, have my choice of gourmet vittles, play, stalk, socialize, ignore, etc.

3. When I get snarky, typically someone making a not-thought through (after all, most people are more mimetic than thoughtful) idiotic statement about almost anything. I cannot abide over-spiritualized Christianity, nor can I abide theology that's does account for earthbound paradox. Assumptions about me or about other people—how about the first time someone told me I was "uneducated?" and too many more to type the endlessly growing list.

4. When I looked up from my computer I had to look around for something interesting, since the first thing I noticed when I looked up was an emply white Ikea shelf. Right beside me to the left is my housemate/landlady/colleague/friend's iMac computer that she's had I don't know how long and hasn't ever turned on. She does some internet on my puter, but even totally quit fb! Outrageous!

5. My fave socks are those relatively thin ones with horses or kitties, along with thicker "boot socks" that typically aren't too durable yet usually are very comfy and soft.

Monday, October 06, 2014

synchroblog: mental illness/health awareness

October synchroblog on synchroblog central

This month:
To commemorate the launch of Sarah Griffith Lund‘s new book ― Blessed Are The Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church ― and to participate in National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 5-11), we invite you to join in a Synchroblog on mental illness, family, and church.

Break the silence by sharing your personal story of how you’ve been impacted by mental illness in your family and/or in your faith community.
mental illness awareness week
October 5-11 is National Mental Illness Awareness Week; you can learn more on the NAMI MIAW page.

October 7 is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding.

"Break the silence by sharing your story..." My final post for a while in my tellingthestory label last spring. Socially, professionally, and financially that story I'm trying to tell has been costly beyond anything I could have imagined.


For starters, the side of my family of origin I know something about has a multi-generational history of severe clinical depression, suicide, bipolar I, panic disorder, agoraphobia... Since my early teen years I've battled "something OCD-ish", panic disorder, and claustrophobia; I also have migraine disorder―as opposed to an occasional discrete migraine episode. Evidence shows those illnesses are closely related. Psychiatry deals with brain function, neurology with brain structure, though you can't separate them! Most medical centers of any size will have a neuropsychiatrist or psychoneurologist (someone boarded in both specialties) on staff. Doctors sometimes prescribe anticonvulsants – technically neurological drugs – to treat depression and mania that formally are psychiatric diagnoses. Sometimes physicians prescribe antidepressants (psych meds) to alleviate neurologically-based migraines and other headaches. Clinicians insist it can be difficult to discern the flat mood of depression from that of psychosis; sometimes you need to wait and see. I'll add there's also the flat affect of some brain injuries.

I try to understand the countless times I've heard or read passionate pleas please to interact with and act toward people with mental/psychiatric illnesses just as you do people with any other physical malady, because, after all, disorders of mood and thought are whole-body diseases. However, for some reason most people seem to miss or evade the fact those illnesses strike at the very heart of a person's humanity, since they profoundly affect thinking and feeling. In other words, in presentation and in social cost, they're anything but simply "another illness." In addition, most people will have an episode that makes them look clinically depressed at some point in their lives.

My Friend C

After pancakes and festivities, last Shrove Tuesday I signed a covenant with a friend: we both promised to keep stayin' alive in the blues. Six weeks plus later, we sat together at the Easter Vigil; at the end of that three-day long Triduum liturgy, after (finally!) the first Eucharist of Easter, I excitedly went to the back of the church sanctuary and rang the bell seven times to proclaim death and resurrection to the surrounding neighborhood! Together at Easter Vigil. C died less than two weeks later. Her blues almost definitely had been the clinical depression she'd told people she was being treated for; you could call my case of the blues "existential depression" due to one thing after another, including fallout from the physical fall and subsequent losses I referenced in my "tellingthestory" posts.

desert spirit's fire! truly is mostly a theology blog rather than reflections on my daily or weekly activities. (Why not a hat tip to my seminary professors who assumed I'd get a ThD or PhD and teach in seminary? They've got one!) You know none of us is faithful—no, not one! At C's funeral, the pastor assured us C was with Jesus and with her parents who had predeceased her. I just noticed the last sentence I typed! Had Jesus the Christ predeceased her? Yes. The preacher assured us C was with her family and with Jesus because of Jesus' infinite faithfulness. Afterwards at lunch in the social hall, C's baptismal certificate was at the top of the display of items associated with her. God irrevocably claimed C in baptism. God keeps covenant. God kept covenant.

Other October Synchroblog Participants: