Thursday, June 21, 2007

Parallel Lives

Not that I am not happy with the life I am currently living, because I have always felt like I am walking down yellow brick road and will one day meet the Wizard with this current life that I am leading (or in minister speak, I feel I am leading the life to which I am called).....but sometimes I read something or see something that stirs in me a deep hope that reincarnation is the way things work out, because I think it would be so fun to be and do so many different things. More things than one life allows time for. (especially considering we're not promised tomorrow!) Today it was an email newsletter from Ring Lake Ranch.

Here's a list of some parallel lives I'd like to lead. If this looks like a meme to you, go'n ahead and consider yourself tagged and track back because I'd be interested to see what kind of things you'd like to do too.

1. Suppose I'll start with the life I almost led if it hadn't been for the call into ministry: I would have attended either UNC or UVA for a post graduate degree (or perhaps both) and gotten a Ph.D in Buddhism (Tibetan, though Zen is what I have learned most about from my undergrad prof. McDaniel--b/c I think I remember there being a big pro in the field at UVA) or American Religion if at UNC--just like another of my prof's, Dr. Jane Harris. Then, of course, I would have been employed at Hendrix College. One of my friends from college, Brad, actually did get his post-grad degree in Tibetan Buddhism at U of Chicago and studied in Tibet as well. I saw him at a friend's wedding in South Carolina a year ago, and he seemed very happy with his life (though he seemed somewhat disenchanted with being in school for so long.) I think he was going to go work in a museum. That sounds good.

2. If I'd followed my high school dreams for life, I'd have gone into the field of archaeology or perhaps paleontology. I just had a fantasy the other day that I had pursued this goal and had made my mark on the field by developing a computerized "virtual catalogue" of footprints and bones that could be used to connect missing links.

3. It would be great to work at Ring Lake Ranch mixing the design of workshops on spirituality with the care of horses, fishing, the mountains, hiking, etc.

4. I study architecture and apprentice myself to Frank Gehry or Fay Jones. I love organic architecture.
5. I would be an illuminator for the St. John's Bible.

6. I would be a journalist.

7. I would be a commentator for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.

8. I would be my cat, Lao-Tzu. (At the moment, she seems quite interested in my coffee)

9. I would be a competitive scrabble tournament geek.
10. I suppose I could have continued on as the program coordinator at Occidental College Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. I had a great boss/collaborator, and it was a fantastic thing to encourage the spiritual development of intelligent college kids at America's most diverse college. It was also cool to have a huge grant to work with.

11. I would be a parrot-head, surf all day, and live on Na pali Coast.

There's more, but now that I've gotten that out of my system, time to get on the sermon.
Hmmm. I get to plumb the depths of sacred writings and weave that together with life and lives in order to inspire some words that I stand up and give to a congregation of people who consider that something that is part of the worship of God. I get to break bread and lift up a cup of juice and acknowledge the real presence of Christ in those things, and then I get to place that bread in people's hands with the words "brother/sister, the bread of life." Even though I'm not worthy of the comparison, I get to represent Christ to people who are about to die, about to give birth, and about to awaken. I get to cultivate an awareness of the undercurrents of Reality for a living.
This life is pretty cool, too.
Okay, now I'm ready to write a sermon.

Don't let the bastards grind you down OR Ignorance is Bliss

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fun with the Articles of Religion

Here's something I stumbled across while preparing for my 6:30 group study of Doctrine and Our Theological Task. Did a bit of Sherlocking, and found some pretty interesting stuff. Wrote the email to a few people I thought would find it interesting, but then thought I'd put it out there for anyone to comment on or bite into.

Hey Jack, John, and Dad
John--another doctrinal dilemma for you. Jack, Grayson may find this interesting--feel free to pass on if you like.
I was looking through my Articles of Religion in prep. for my doctrine study tonight and stumbled across the following, listed after the articles under parentheses that noted that the following "This statement seeks to interpret to our churches in foreign lands Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. It is a legislative enactment but is not part of the Constitution. (See Judicial Council Decisions No. 41, 176.)"

Then the "pseudo-article" states the following....
"As far as it respects civil affairs we believe it the duty of Christians, and especially of all Christian Ministers, to be subject to the supreme authority of the country where they may reside, and to use all laudable means to enjoin obedience to the powers that be;

I thought it was interesting that in decision 41, they give an historical background of the "pseudo-article" which included the following words as well:

and therefore it is expected that all our Preachers and People, who may be under British or any other Government, will behave themselves as peaceable and orderly subjects."

I can't really find when or under what action we lost that savory bit of language, but apparently it read that way at least until 1947.

I've linked you to the JC decisions below.

JC Decision 41 (1947)

JC Decision 176 (1960)

Interim JC Decision 6 (1968)

I just thought you'd find it pretty interesting. It's been kind of a thorn in the article of confession's side for some time, giving problems to the MEC South and the Civil rights movement as well. In the 1960 decision, the JC is dealing with someone who seemingly opposed a resolution giving support to the "sit-in" protests and other non-violent protests on account of that particular resolution being "against the restrictive rules," which state that no GC shall adopt new standards or doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine." JC found that the above mentioned "thing" was not a constitutional act. I've been thinking about writing a petition that just does away with the "footnote" all-together, being that what it says is rooted in colonialism, that it no longer reflects the character of our global church, perhaps. (Do we want to encourage "obedience to the powers that be" to those living in Zimbabwe or the Congo, or any number of other places under totalitarian rule? Also, the character of what is said is clearly (and more eloquently) stated in Article XVI of the Evangelical United Bretheren, which states:
"We believe civil government derives its just powers from the sovereign God. As Christians we recognize the governments under whose protection we reside and believe such governments should be based on, and be responsible for, the recognition of human rights under God. We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ. We believe it is the duty of Christian citizens to give moral strength and purpose to their respective governments through sober, righteous and godly living." (Italics mine). Sober, righteous, and godly living is a better way to show our respect for a government than "obedience" don't you think? Also, Bretheren seem to leave a caveat there that gov'ts derive their "just" powers from God, not nec. all power--am I reading that truthfully, you think?


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sunsets out my back door

This sunset was so odd--I remember seeing the light change out the window to a orangish pink. I looked outside, and everything looked tinted. How beautiful!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unwelcome Guest

Tonight after Lara and I had played a few games of "Butterly Express" (a new computer game "marble shooter") I went in the kitchen to get a refill on my water. When I walked in the kitchen, I saw a small black animal by our dining room table. My first thought was that it was a neighbor's cat (who usually like to eat our cat's cat food) and was just about to snap and hiss at the cat so that it would leave our house--then I saw the white stripe down this particular cat's back. The hiss lodged itself in my throat and I ducked back in the hallway to marshall Lara into position. "We have a skunk in our house," I told her as I closed the bedroom door. "What do we do?" What do you do in this situation? You want the skunk gone, but you also don't want to startle it. If a skunk lets off its spray in a house, it is not just a matter of an unpleasant smell for a few days. You have to get rid of furniture. It can be a big loss of property.
The situation was pretty clear. We had left the garage door open on accident, and the skunk had come in through the cat door which is in our house door out to the garage (a very nice convenience that one of the parishioners put into place when we moved in so we don't have to have the litterbox and catfood (which Wesley loves to play with and on occasion eat) in the house.
So what did we do? "Who can we call?" Lara said. My heart was pounding. What is this animal going to do? What if one of my cats gets after it? "If you don't tell me someone to call in 10 seconds, I'm just going to call 911." Oh jeez. We're going to have quite a reputation around here. The last time we called 911 was when Wesley mysteriously disappeared from our house. Turns out he had learned how to open the door to the garage and found a coke (which we don't let him drink) can with a little coke in it and had found a little hiding spot where he could drink it in peace. While he'd usually respond to us when we called (frantically) for him, this time he instead chose to stay put and finish his coke.
I can just see the 911 operator: "Oh that crazy Methodist pastor who couldn't find his kid in his own house is calling me because he's got a skunk!"
But we were desperate. Lara called 911, apologized and explained our situation. She transferred us to the police department. The policeman said he'd be right over. By this time, we'd bravely peeked out our bedroom door and saw that the skunk wasn't in the hallway, then we branched out and made sure the skunk wasn't in any of the other rooms as we made our way to the kitchen, shutting the doors as we went. The skunk wasn't in the kitchen or the living room or the laundry room or the pantry. I sighed with relief as a bent down to lock the cat-door. Then I headed to the front door to meet the policeman.
We explained our situation, and by this time Lara had looked in the garage too and didn't see him. The police officer said that if we had a shot-gun and could get a clean shot at him if he came around again, it would be fine to go ahead and shoot it. (I assumed he meant outside the house) Last year we noticed a family of skunks making their way into the culvert under our driveway, so I assumed they were taking up residence again. I don't know if I could shoot it, but that would better than getting sprayed! While we were talking, I casually walked over to take another look in the garage, and saw the skunk under the car. Once again, the action movie music rose to a crescendo as my heartbeat quickened. I herded Lara (who had already taken her ambien and was a bit too brazen about the whole situation for my taste) into the front door, and went back in the house to make sure I had locked the cat door. Officer Wiggins banged around in the garage for a while, and we finally saw the varmint tear out of the garage and dash across our front porch, right in front of the front door (previously, Lara had complained about not being able to be part of the action outside on the front porch, but I had insisted that the skunk could decide to come out of the garage and go for the bushes which are right to the other side of our front door. Can you picture that? Garage---------Front door---bushes. Turns out it was a fortuitous decision on my part to insist that we stand inside the front door as to not startle the skunk on its retreat. It is hereby recorded as an instance where I was right and it was important to take my advice on a particular matter. :) So, that's our country fried night of entertainment. What did you do tonight?