Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I remember my parents talking about their early days in the Navy. They lived in Norfolk, Va., a Navy town. Yet there was so much prejudice against sailors there that many apartment buildings and rooming houses bore signs with the warning, "No Dogs or Sailors Allowed."

Is that the sorry state our churches are coming to? I wonder if soon I'll see a sign like this in front of an Episcopal church:

No gays, women or liberals allowed.

According to the Daily Telegraph (7/20/04), the Archbishop of York has proposed dividing the Church of England into two, "one part with female clergy and one without... to avert an exodus of traditionalists when women become bishops."

The article continues,

"Dr Hope is keen to encourage a compromise between die-hard traditionalists and middle-of-the-road Anglicans that will minimise the structural divisions within the Church. The diehards are demanding a "third province", a church-within-a-church with its own archbishop, bishops and training colleges operating in parallel with the remainder of the Church, but with no female clergy.

As The Telegraph disclosed in January, the third province option has been included in the unpublished official report on women bishops by a working party headed by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali.

But Dr Hope prefers a scheme which, rather than creating parallel structures, enshrines the rights of traditionalist parishes that could find themselves in dioceses headed by women bishops or liberals. Under such a scheme, parishes opposed to women's ordination would be able to reject the pastoral care of their diocesan bishop if they found them unacceptable. Such parishes could choose to be ministered to by a like-minded traditionalist bishop, who could visit them, if necessary, from outside the diocese. Parishes can already opt for "flying" bishops under provisions introduced for traditionalists when women were ordained priests 10 years ago."

Third province? Finding bishops "unacceptable?" This sounds a lot like the AAC platform.

Of course, these churches could then split again, over other issues. Then we could have eight churches within a church. Or 16.

And just where do we find God in all this? How do we love our neighbors as ourselves?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Call me just fed up with attempts to co-opt God. And where does the Republican Party get off pressuring clergy to support Bush or appropriating church directories for political purposes?

God is not a Republican

I am a patriotic American. We are blessed to live in a country with a Constitution designed to protect our civil liberties. I am a Navy "brat" -- my father, about whom I'll write one day, was a career Navy officer, and I'm proud of him.

I used to be a registered Republican. Not anymore. President George W. Bush made me too embarrassed to keep that party affiliation. I went over to the Democrats a little while ago.

One of the things Bush has done that I intensely dislike is to act as if God is on his, and only his, side; as if God is a registered Republican, supporting Bush's actions in Iraq, his approach to relations with other countries, and his domestic agenda. (And whatever else Bush gets it in his head to do.)

This is really nothing new in right-wing politics. Remember the Moral Majority of the 1970s and '80s? Wrapping oneself in the flag is an old tactic. It's designed to smear your opposition as unpatriotic.
And wrapping oneself simultaneously in the flag and in the cloak of godly righteousness is a double whammy, implying the opposition is not only unpatriotic, but also a bunch of unchristian, non-God-fearing sorts (whose rights, by the way, are protected by the Constitution).

God has no political-party affiliation. God is not even an American. He is the one above all names, above all powers, to whom every knee must bow and every tongue confess. Period.

When the Pharisees used a coin bearing Caesar's inscription to try to trick Jesus into a compromising statement regarding the separation of earthly and spiritual powers, he told them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." There's a clear distinction.

Those of us who call ourselves Christian should know that Jesus, if anything, was a socialist. We try to tone down his message to fit within our comfort zone, but he said, in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, "All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."

Jesus told Peter to "feed my sheep." No laissez-faire economics or rampant capitalism here, just socialism in the truest sense -- taking care of each other, especially of society's most vulnerable members.

Lots of things that circulate around the Internet find their way to my e-mail in-box. I can't count how many "forwards" with depictions of Stars-and-Stripes-covered crosses I've seen. This makes my stomach turn, and it would give me the same reaction no matter whose side the mail supports. The cross should always come first, above all earthly symbols.

Beware of politicians claiming some special favor or divine mantle from God to do what they're doing. There was only one who could claim this privilege, and he lived on the Earth a couple of thousand years ago.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

With a little help from my friends
All of you please accept my thanks for your prayers and good wishes. They make a difference. It makes a difficult time easier to endure. I think I can physically "feel" prayers for me.
Here's something I've been meditating on; it has to do with being in a dim or dark place in my life. At these times, God might be right there; Jesus might be knocking at the door of my heart, but my own spiritual malaise makes it very difficult to feel that nearness, to be aware of that presence.
When I can't grasp the light to cut the darkness around me, when I can't seek the face of God, I can still see God's light reflected in the loving people around me.
At church tonight, I looked at the face of Mother Marvelous, who gave us a scare with her health this past week. When I look in her face, I see the light of God and the love of Christ. It is here, in the world. It is in her. It is in Deacon S., manifested in a different way, and in the Rector in yet another way. It's in adorable Doria, who shines with the light of a city on hill, though telling her that embarrasses her. It's in so many at that church.
This is what keeps me going through the dry times, and why it's so important to be in community, in a caring family of faith.
A friend sent me an article that was published in Newsday last week, an article by Jimmy Breslin called "As the List Grows, Bush is Unmoved."

Breslin is passionate in his disgust for Bush, and in his empathy for all the young lives wasted in Iraq for a war that shouldn't have happened.
Even back in the days when I thought there might actually be weapons of mass destruction that needed to be removed from Iraq, I vehemently opposed sending in troops. Didn't we learn anything from Viet Nam? There are smarter and better ways than the cowboy charge.
Breslin's is a powerful indictment of the man who "wanted to be a wartime president."  Well, the man got his wish, but not exactly the way he wanted, I suspect.
I guess Bushie thought there would be more glory as a 'heroic' wartime prez, and the public easier to manipulate in a wartime situation -- gotta stay patriotic and support the shrub, whatever he does. It's amazing.
Here's the link to the article, published online at "Common Dreams."  http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0715-08.htm

Saturday, July 17, 2004

  • On cats, God and heaven
  • I've been in a snit with God lately.  It started before Zsa-Zsa got sick.  I'm not sure, but I think God is now using things to do with Zsa-Zsa to reach me. 
  • Of course, cats have long been associated with the supernatural.  I don't think they fit too well in the framework of modern Christian theology, but, well, I don't care.  Here goes:  
  • Monday evening, after Zsa-Zsa died, I lit some candles, got the prayer book and started modifying some of the prayers for the dead to fit Zsa-Zsa.  For some unknown reason, a tea light melted down completely, the fluid caught on fire, started smoking and set off the smoke alarm.
  • That shouldn't have happened -- no reason for it, but it reminded me of the time seven or eight years ago when I was having a romantic evening with a boyfriend. I had lit candles all around the room and we were engaged in very romantic talk when Zsa-Zsa came strolling toward us, oblivious to the fact that the fur on her flanks was ablaze.  She had strolled too near a candle. We grabbed her and wrapped her with a towel to smother the blaze, an action of which she was most unappreciative.  Luckily, some fur was all that had burned.  The apartment stank of singed cat fur for days.
  • I had to laugh, remembering it.
  • The next morning, Tuesday, the Best Dog in the World (Betsy), Good Old Boy and Elvis the Cat all took turns staring, as if in a trance, at a spot in front of what I call "the cat room."  (It's a spare room that became the cat hang-out and feeding place the dogs dare not enter -- they have to get past a pet gate of which they're terrified. It's been used to confine them in the kitchen.)
  • I have no idea what they were staring at and what compelled each of them to come look, separately. There was certainly nothing visible to my human eye. But it's a spot through which Zsa-Zsa would pass frequently. 
  • This morning, I could have sworn I caught a glimpse of her sitting on the arm of the sofa, licking her paw as if in preparation for washing her face.  A trick of the imagination, most likely, because I still expect to see her.  Every night this week, I've come home and felt like something was wrong, then realized I was one short.  I subconsciously do a head count when I come in, and one animal has seemed unaccounted for.
  • I keep feeling that Zsa-Zsa's little spirit is reminding me that she might not be here any more, but it's all right.  She's all right  --  not unaccounted for, but in a good place.
  • I'll always miss Zsa-Zsa, just as I still miss her precedessor, who's been gone for 15 years now. But I believe if there's a heaven, all these creatures we care so much about are there, too.  In my Father's house are many mansions, with lots of room for pets.  Otherwise, it just wouldn't be heaven.
  • And if God cares about little orange cats, and the Bible says He/She cares even about the little sparrows that fall, then God is okay in my book.
  • If I make it to heaven, I know Zsa-Zsa and the others will be there waiting for me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The end of Zsa-Zsa

I've written about the animals in my life a couple of times. You may remember Zsa-Zsa from my post of Nov. 12, >November Archives, called "Great Stinkin' Cat Shit."

Zsa-Zsa, a 13-year-old orange Persian whose health was always much frailer than her spirit, took very ill over the Fourth of July weekend. I decided not to take her to the vet. In her estimation, vets were the most evil people on the face of the earth, and she had panic attacks when she had to go see them. Not their fault -- she had been mistreated in her first year of life, before she came into my home, and any attempt to grab hold of her and do anything to her brought on an extreme reaction.

It was months after I got Zsa-Zsa before she would sit next to me or in my lap, and it was several years before she got over her terror of brooms. At first, she would stay in the same room with me, but on the opposite side of it. She gradually moved closer and closer. Then she would sit on the back of the sofa, near me. Then next to me. Then, finally in my lap. She became a very affectionate cat with me, but suspicious of other humans, and she never got over her fear of being held immobile.

Zsa-Zsa's breathing problems required frequent trips to the vet and steroid shots in her earlier years, and she hated each visit more than the last.

She was finally weaned off the shots onto steroid pills, and when I became involved in the healing ministries, I practiced laying hands on Zsa-Zsa and was able to get her off the medication completely, which the vet said was much better for her overall health.

But now she was breathing with difficulty, and something else was wrong, too, because she was not eating, only drinking lots of water. I suspected kidney. With Zsa-Zsa's reactions to the vet office, though, I knew the panic attack getting her there and on the examining table would kill her. She was too weak to endure it. I decided to let her die at home, where she would want to be.

I thought Zsa-Zsa only had a day or two left on that Fourth of July, She was still with me Friday, the ninth, but still not eating, and breathing with difficulty. A friend at work, to whom I will always be grateful, found a vet who would make house calls. The vet came out that evening and determined that Zsa-Zsa was terminal, with shrunken kidneys as well as lung problems. Zsa-Zsa's heart was still very strong, the vet said. She gave her a shot of steroids to see if that would buy her some time.

It helped her breathing somewhat, and it gave me the weekend to spend petting Zsa-Zsa and fussing over her. Zsa-Zsa still wanted to be petted and stroked. Her legs were getting very wobbly, but she would come to me and purr like a buzz saw as I caressed her.

I called the vet and she came back yesterday morning. I petted Zsa-Zsa as the vet and her assistant gave her the injection that stopped all her breathing problems. Zsa-Zsa died very peacefully and quickly, at home, where she would have wanted to be.

Zsa-Zsa's ashes will be buried in the yard, with a rose bush or azalea bush -- I haven't decided which.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Funky Days

If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed that I've been erratic in (mostly not) posting the past few weeks.

I've been in a funk. I'm going through some awful family stuff I won't even talk about except to say that it has to do with the root of all evil and family jealousies and control issues and all the really fun stuff.

It feels like the negatives in my life are overwhelming the positives. It sucks. It, along with all the usual slings and arrows of life and then some, has thrown me into a real testing of my faith.

I couldn't have written the 'Sanctimonius' story, except that I already had it in my head. I meant to write it a week earlier, but I didn't. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on opening night, but couldn't find my voice to say anything about it for a good week.

My voice is coming back a bit. Maybe that means I'm getting through this. I hope so.

Anyway, here's my bit regarding the movie. I wasn't sure if I would like it -- Michael Moore is sometimes a bit over the top. But I did like it. Here's what I got out of it, apart from the stuff you've probably already heard a lot about -- the queasy-making election results, the big lies regarding WMDs, etc.

"Who's Your Daddy?"

Amid all the brouhaha over Fahrenheit 9/11, I thought I'd offer my impressions from the movie.
Let's get this out of the way: Yes, President Bush is bashed mercilessly, but filmmaker Michael Moore just helps Bush bash himself through video clips.
For example, one thing I'll always remember from Fahrenheit 9/11 is Bush in deer-in-headlights panic when he was told about the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Poor man, he didn't have anyone to tell him what to do. So he sat there, with a grade-school class, reading a story. He had no clue what else to do. There was no one there to take control of the situation for him.
How presidential. What a world leader.
Here's another thing I'll remember from the movie, and it makes me fond of Michael Moore. It's Moore's love for the people back in his hometown of Flint, Mich. These are the poor people on whose backs this country was built, as Moore points out.
These are the have-nots who see joining the military as the only ticket out of a low- to no-employment economy, and who are shamelessly recruited into service. These kids are the ones who get killed in places like Iraq, while the children of the "haves" avoid military service. Moore found only one congressman with a child in military service.
It's class warfare of the most awful kind. It's cynical exploitation of poor youth.
One young man from Flint shakes his head during an interview. He'd looked at the bombed-out buildings in an Iraqi war zone on television, then looked at the crumbling, boarded-up buildings in Flint. He recognizes the war zone at home.
Juxtapose that image with this one: the contempt George W. shows for these people. Here's a snickering quote from Bush as he addresses a well-heeled crowd at a fund-raiser: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base."
Ah, yes. Government of and by and to benefit the have-mores. Like your friendly neighbors at Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and the Carlyle Group. Among the companies Carlyle owns are those that make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the U.S. military.
Guess who works for Carlyle? None other than former President Bush and his secretary of state James Baker. How convenient to have such people helping you get defense contracts, especially Bush Senior, who still gets his daily CIA briefings.
These briefings are no doubt very helpful to the Saudis, some of the Bush family's best friends and business associates. The Saudi Arabian ambassador, Prince Bandar, is known around Washington as "Bandar Bush," he's so tight with the Bush family. Earlier in George W.'s career, the Saudis propped him up in various oil companies, which Bush promptly ran into the ground.
Why, as Moore pointed out, do the Saudis need to invest in Texas oil? They don't. They're investing in White House influence through the Bushes. This is something else I'll remember from the movie. And the Saudis own around 7 percent of the United States.
George W. makes $400,000 per year in office. The Saudis have put $1.4 billion into Bush enterprises over the years. As Moore asked, who you gonna think about first when you wake up in the morning — the American people, who pay you $400,000, or the Saudis, who've paid you $1.4 billion? "Who's your daddy?"
There have always been corrupt politicians. There have always been backroom deals. But there's something so calculated, so shameless, so heartless, so low about this administration, an administration that made up a ball of lies to get us into a war in Iraq for the corporate profit of its cronies.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is plenty hot enough to make my blood boil. If I were feeling feistier, I'd say, "I'm ready for the revolution."

Monday, July 05, 2004

The Complaints of Job

Job 23:2-4 (NIV)
Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.

A Cry to God

Where are you oh God who promised me life
then surrounded me with death
Where are you oh God who promised me hope
then dashed it on the stones
Where are you oh God who promised comfort
then left me alone and bereft.
Are you there?
Are you listening?
Do you mock my cries to you?
Or do you even hear them?
Am I just speaking to the wind?
Did I just imagine a God who loves me
because I need you so much?
Where are you where are you
What can I do
Where I can go
What can I do but search for you
beg mercy plead to be where you are
What else is there?


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Part 6
More of a Short Tale

Trooper Mary Brody swung the state police cruiser out onto the highway, set the cruise control, and adjusted the bulk of her body for maximum comfort. It was a nice day to patrol -- a quiet day in June, little traffic, birds singing.

Her mind drifted. She thought about what she would cook for supper that night. Trooper Brody enjoyed food and she enjoyed thinking about it. Maybe she would go to a movie afterward, or down to the pub where some of her officer-friends gathered for beer.

Trooper Brody was in the zone.

"Jumping Gee-hose-a-phat good Lord!" she exclaimed, slamming on the brakes.

For she had come upon a bizarre sight. On the edge of the right lane stood a man in a frilly, pink robe, bent over, hands on knees, gasping for breath. She knew it was a man, because the contours of the prominent rear end, pointed toward her through the flimsy pink material, were much too flat and bony to belong to a woman. Hairy, spindly legs emerged from the bottom of the robe.

Trooper Brody pulled the cruiser to the shoulder of the road, got out, adjusting her holster, and approached the man. He was mumbling incoherently and sobbing between gasps for air. He turned as he heard her booted feet on the gravel behind him.

He looked at the bulky figure in the state police uniform and started whining, "No, no, no."

"Aw, God, cover yourself up," said Trooper Brody in disgust. The man's robe was hanging open, and some rather private parts were hanging down below the garter belt.

"I guess I don't need to frisk you," Brody said to the cowering man. "What is your name, and what are you doing here?"

"S-s-sh--Sanctimonius," moaned the man.

"Sanctimonious about what?"

"No, my name is Sanctimonius."

"Ooo-kay. What are you doing out here, in that?

"Someone hid all my clothes." The man's eyes were rheumy, and his face was blotchy beneath all the makeup.

Trooper Brody sighed, then stifled an impulse to giggle. The day was turning out to be more interesting than she'd anticipated. She was definitely going to the pub tonight. She'd have a great story to tell.

Sanctimonius sat in the interview room at the state police station. Someone had given him an orange jumpsuit to replace the pink thing. He felt dull. Lethargic. He sat at the table, staring off into space.

The door opened. A tall, blond man walked in.

"Sherman," he said.

Sanctimonius lifted his head slightly to look at the man.

"Sherman," the man repeated, pulling out a chair and sitting next to Sanctimonius.

"My name is Sanctimonius."

"Sherman," repeated the man softly. "My Lord sent me to you. God Almighty has been talking to you, but you haven't been listening.

"God wants you to know that you are loved. God loves you, Sherman, and wants to bring you healing. Your mother loved you, too, although you didn't see that.

"Sherman, can you turn to God? Can you ask for mercy and forgiveness?"

The man's eyes bored into Sherman. Sherman wondered if he were about to die.

"God help me," Sherman suddenly cried out. He could see the script of his life played out. He could see the bitterness, the anger, the hatred that had controlled him. "God have mercy on my soul."

The blond man's eyes were moist and filled with compassion. His face and hair were vibrant. The vibrancy seemed to spill off, like a solid substance, all around the man.

"Sherman, I bring you God's healing," the man spoke, as he put his hands on Sherman's head.

Sherman felt himself disappear somewhere. It felt as if he were gliding over deep-blue water with a bright-blue sky above. He gulped in great mouthfuls of cool, clean, energizing air, then dove into the water, amazed at his own gracefulness. The water was cool enough to be refreshing, but not cold. This water had a different consistency than any other -- it was slightly syrupy, just enough to make it feel as though it were clinging to him, enveloping him in a way that sea water never had. It felt so good.

Sherman swam to the surface and took another gulp of air. To his surprise, he was back in the interview room. The blond man was just pulling his hands away from Sherman's head, and he was smiling.

"Who are you?" asked Sherman.

"I think you know. It will sink in after a bit." The man stood and placed his hand on Sherman's shoulder.

"Sherman, you will proclaim the word."

A few minutes later, Trooper Brody entered the room. She had a slightly dazed look on her face.

"The examiner said it's okay to release you. He suggested I take you on home. So I will." Brody cocked her head to one side, as if trying to figure out something.

A half-hour later, the cruiser pulled up to Sanctimonius' little house. Trooper Brody looked at Sanctimonius, who had ridden silently in the back seat all the way.

"I'll come in with you and check out the house," the trooper decided.

Sherman slunk in behind her, looking around warily. Trooper Brody checked the closets and drawers, all of which stood open. They were filled with men's shirts, slacks, suits, briefs and socks. Brody made a walk-through of the house, hand on holster. Everything looked normal.

"Well, I'm going to leave you now," she said. "Everything seems in order. I'd suggest you get some sleep."

She headed toward the door. Something made her say, "And you take care, now. God bless."

Sherman removed the orange jump suit and threw it on the floor, then collapsed on the bed. He fell into a deep sleep.

Hours later, he awoke, refreshed, though he had had a very strange dream.

It was a dream, wasn't it? Sherman frowned. He looked around the bedroom, at the open closet, where his clothes hung as they were supposed to. Sherman's eyes scanned the room.

He spied the orange jumpsuit on the floor. Around it, here and there, were bits of pink feathers.