I'm sitting in a motel room right now, getting ready to start the long drive home.
I made the 500 mile drive to see my mother, who's in a nursing home. She gets up and around fine, though she moves more slowly than she used to. Her continued mental decline is obvious. She got confused about who I am, and asked, "Are we related somehow?"
The Alzheimer's/Dementia has stolen what was once a sharp brain. Every week, I call her, but she can never remember where I live, what I do, or how far I am. She doesn't have any clue where she is.
It's so sad to see. She had her own house, with a large walk-in closet overflowing with clothes -- she enjoyed shopping, my mother. I had more clothes when she was around, because I'd end up buying something when I'd take her to the mall. I never go there now.
She's in what could be a hospital double-room, with a roommate. It's been made to be as pleasant as possible. She has virtually no personal belongings, and all her clothes fit into a little 30-inch wide closet.
She used to cut and perm her hair herself. She took a lot of pride in her appearance, and was always nicely dressed and groomed, even if she was home alone.
Now, her hair is longer than she would ever have let it get, unkempt, unpermed, and it could have used a washing.
The nursing home staff seems pretty decent, though. The place is clean, neat and smell-free. As a Eucharistic lay minister/visitor, I've been in some that are dogs.
Speaking of dogs, Betsy came with me. She enjoyed getting to go with me, and she kept me company on the drive. I'm staying in a pet-accessible motel.
Betsy got a lot of attention at the nursing home. The residents and and even staff enjoyed petting her. I used to take Betsy to one of the local nursing homes that had a pet-therapy program, but we haven't done that in a long time.
Mom fed Betsy part of lunch, and the rest of it stayed on the tray, uneaten. I brought Mom a tin of butter cookies, which she loves, along with some other gifts. She had eaten a few of those, before lunch. She still has little appetite.
Mom wanted me to spend the night there, in her "spare" bed (her roommate's).
May God have mercy on us all.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A change of name
I'm hereby giving notice of my change of name: I shall henceforth be known as "Saint Pat."
I've been thinking about this a while. I'm cranky, sarcastic and not always easy to get along with. Neither was St. Paul. Or St. Peter.
The "Saints" of church history are hardly any nobler. They're often misogynistic (St. Thomas Aquinas), bullying (just about all of them), nut jobs (St. Francis and his St. Clare - two of my favs, but today, they'd both be heavily medicated), and out of touch (all the mystics, including another of my favs, Julian of Norwich).
St. Thomas: just another frat boy
Many led less than church-sanctioned lives before having religious conversions (St. Augustine), and even after.
Like them, though, I'm passionate about the God who came down from heaven for a walkabout on the planet Earth, in the form of Jesus Christ. My failings don't dim my devotion.
Therefore, I shall claim my title as saint, knowing my place in the Kingdom of God, where I will walk in the Garden and sit at the feet of my master, waits for me.
St. Julian will be my example. I will strive to have her vision, her sweetness of nature, and her understanding.
While I make no claim to sainthood, I am Saint Pat.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Sometimes it strikes me anew how fascist an attempt at coup the Network/AAC is perpetrating. No wonder its leaders are aligning themselves with people like Peter Akinola of Nigeria. They think on the same fascist/totalitarian pages.
Now, maybe in Nigeria, the lines of power run straight up and down, and no one would dare contradict the archbishop. What he says goes.
In the United States and many other provinces of the Communion, power is distributed a little more evenly.
We have a presiding bishop, a house of bishops, laity. In each diocese there's a similar structure. After all, we live in a republic, which has always prided itself on due process and the democratic process. Not so, everywhere, of course.
Let's do a little comparison:
For hypotheses' sake, let's say the last two presidential elections were conducted honestly, and there's no question President Bush is entitled to the title of leader of the United States.
Let's say that I am governor of the Great State of Midlandia. I don't like the way things have been going in this country. And besides, I've always cherished the idea I'd be president some day, and I'm really put out that this doesn't seem to be happening. I've had a little grudge thing going for years. It makes me dislike the pres and his predecessors all the more.
I've been forging alliances with leaders of other countries. Ones who are pretty ruthless about getting things done and holding power. Ones whose view of morality I share.
I declare that as the preznit of the U.S. is not a fit leader, and this country is going straight down the tubes, anyway, I don't have to respect the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of Midlandia. In fact, I'm rewriting Midlandia's constitution to give me the authority to do what I want to do.
I say Midlandia is still a member of the United States of America and I'm still a citizen of the country, with all my rights, even as I go about putting Midlandia under the oversight of the Dictator of New Zeality. So don't think about removing me as governor.
I'm taking the assets and tax monies (local and federal) of the people of Midlandia and putting them into a new entity called the Council of New Zeality in America (CONZA). CONZA, in turn, funnels money to New Zeality, where the dictator has been refusing assistance monies from the USA to feed New Zeality's starving people, on moral principle, calling Americans depraved and not fit to help his people.
Even though I proclaim I can't obey the laws of the U.S. or respect the authority of Congress or the President, I still proclaim I'm a loyal citizen of the U.S. -- while I send delegations to neighboring states to get them to join CONZA and gain support for a plan to overthrow Congress and the President, replacing them with the Dictator of New Zeality, who will appoint me in charge. My henchmen are all assured of positions of power in a new and glorious day.
I'm swearing allegiance to the Dictator of New Zeality for now, because I think he's going to help me become president, down the road. After all, we agree on how countries should be run, and what rights people should and shouldn't be allowed to have.
People aren't able to make the correct choices most of the time, anyway, so they should just accept our choices for them.
We know the tactics of playing on peoples' fears and prejudices to get what we want.
It doesn't seem to occur to me that these agreed-upon tactics can be turned against me.
Friday, September 15, 2006
This explains a lot
After reading Father Jake's doggy post, I remembered this theological debate over cats I read a few years ago.
Jack the Brat says no self-respecting cat would EVER ask for or eat Alpo, while Elvis says, "Well, I wouldn't say never."
From Anglican Media Sydney:
June 20, 2001
The cat sat on the mat...
How would the Church of England deal with the statement that "the cat sat on the mat" if it appeared in the Bible?
The liberal theologians would point out that such a passage did not of course mean that the cat literally sat on the mat. Also, cat and mat had different meanings in those days from today, and anyway the text should be interpreted according to the customs and practices of the period.
This would lead to an immediate backlash from the Evangelicals. They would make it an essential condition of faith that a real physical, living cat, being a domestic pet of the species Felix Domesticus, and having a whiskered head, a furry body, four legs and a tail, did physically place its whole body on a floor covering, designed for that purpose, and which is on the floor but not of the floor. The _expression "on the floor but not of the floor" would be explained in a leaflet.
Meanwhile the Catholics would have developed the Feast of the Sedentation of the Blessed Cat. This would teach that the cat was white, and majestically reclined on a mat of gold thread before its assumption to the Great Cat Basket of Heaven. This is commemorated by singing the 'Magnificat' and 'Felix Namque', lighting three candles and ringing a bell five times.
This would cause a schism with the Orthodox Church, which believes tradition requires Holy Cat's Day (as it is colloquially known), to be marked by lighting SIX candles and ringing the bell FOUR times. This would partly be resolved by the Cuckoo Land declaration recognising the traditional validity of each.
Eventually, the House of Bishops would issue a statement on the doctrine of Feline Sedentation. It would explain, traditionally the text describes a domestic feline quadruped superjacent to an unattached covering on a fundamental surface. For determining its salvific and eschatological significations, we follow the heuristic analytical principles adopted in dealing with the Canine Fenestration Question (how much is that doggie in the window?) and the Affirmative Musaceous paradox (yes, we have no bananas). And so on, for another 210 pages.
The General Synod would then commend this report as helpful resource material for clergy to explain to the man in the pew the difficult doctrine of 'The cat sat on the mat.'
Now, go a couple of entries down, and admire the pix of my cats and dog. I'm really wounded that no one's told me how cute and purr-sonality-ful they are. You don't want to make me angry, do you?
Monday, September 11, 2006
Surely they jest
When I first read it, I thought it was a joke gone awry. You know, one of those tongue-in-cheek satirical pieces that got picked up and treated as real. But I keep seeing it, and the Connecticut Six don't seem to have much of a sense of humor.
No, this is really the Network case against Bishop-Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori. It came from the Connecticut Six Web site (www.ctsix.org). The article's called "AN APPEAL TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: MUST READ!" by the Bishops of Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield (20 July, A.D. 2006)
The bishops believe, "There are effectively two churches under one roof. The common roof is called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America."
No joke. Things they indict Schori with are the things for which I admire her!
You can read the whole schlmiel over there, but here's the Schori indictment:
Concerns about the Presiding Bishop-elect
1. We are concerned that the Presiding Bishop-elect embodies the majority's disregard of the
• She voted for the consent to V. Gene Robinson
• She permits rites of blessing of same-sex unions
• She has sharply criticized the Windsor Report's "ignorance" of ECUSA
• She has indicated that she will continue on the current path
• She has called the status of resolution B033 into question
2. We are concerned that the Presiding Bishop-elect does not represent our views to the
• She has a disregard for the views of the Instruments of Unity or Communion
• She has been sharply critical of members of the Primates' Meeting
• She does not share a clear commitment to the Archbishop's vision of a Covenant
• She has inadequate regard to the consequences of "walking apart"
3. We are concerned that the Presiding Bishop-elect holds theological views that are at
variance with the historic tradition:
• A problematic view of Jesus
• A confused message on the place of Jesus in the Church
• A partial understanding of the Reign of God (Kingdom of God)
• An exclusively social justice view of the mission of the Church
4. We are concerned that the Presiding Bishop-elect has indicated a hostile attitude toward the
minority's faith and witness:
• She attributes their opposition to the prevailing direction as of "the Evil One"
• She has indicated a confrontational stance with respect to these bishops
1. Disregard of the Windsor Report:
On consent to the bishop of New Hampshire
"I participated in the vote to consent to his election. ... I believe that the people of New
Hampshire have the right to choose the person they believe is best suited to their particular
ministry needs. I recognize that this election will cause deep grief and pain to a number of
people in this church, and I deeply lament that reality." (Pastoral Letter, Aug 2003)
On blessing same-sex unions
"The nature of blessing a relationship, whether a marriage or a same-sex partnership,
means that the community who stand with the couple also promise to bless them." (2003
Diocesan Convention Address)
"THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That the 33rd Annual Convention of the Episcopal
Diocese of Nevada, desiring to support relationships of mutuality and fidelity which mediate
the grace of God between those persons for whom the celebration and blessing of a marriage
is not available, does hereby recognize that ceremonies to celebrate the relationships of such
persons who are baptized members in good standing in this diocese may be conducted by
clergy in the diocese, with the approval of the bishop, respecting their pastoral discretion."
(Resolution adopted by Diocese of Nevada, 2003)
"I said that a parish wishing to do so would have to get the congregation to agree, to show that
it was not an isolated event, divorced from the rest of its activities. The couple would also
have to receive counselling, like anyone getting married." (The Guardian, Jun 2006)
On the Windsor Report
"The Windsor Report contains some significant misunderstandings and errors of fact. It does
not clearly recognize how the polity of the Episcopal Church varies from that of most other
parts of the Communion" (Speech in Seattle, Nov 2005)
On the present course
"I am fully committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the church."
(Episcopal News Service, Jun 2006)
Concerning the possibility of consents for a partnered gay/lesbian candidate for the
"[Louie Crew:] 'You don't get much of a choice if a diocese elects a lesbian or gay
"[Jefferts Schori:] 'That's right, and if God brings us to that day, I think we will act according
to how the Spirit moves us. I am sorry not to be able to be more direct.'" (The Witness
Magazine, Apr 2006)
In the House of Bishops, she said, "This resolution will have to be reviewed very soon."
2. Concerning the Communion:
On the Instruments of Unity
"I don't think Jesus is as interested in instruments of unity as he is in whether or not we're
serving his brothers and sisters or feeding the hungry. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican
Communion are going to survive if we manage to work together at healing the world."
(Address, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Nov 2005)
On ECUSA being, as one reporter put it, "thrown out of the Communion"
"It will be unfortunate if we don't have partners, but the reality is lived at the level of local
relationships, at local levels: folks from Nevada going out and helping in Kenya."
(The Guardian, Jun 2006)
On the Anglican Communion
In an interview: “ … the Anglican Communion is a gift to be cherished, and a gift that needs
to be increasingly valued and appropriated through our own sacrifice, albeit not at the cost of
what this church believes to be faithful response to the gospel." (The Living Church, 2006)
On what she will say to Peter Akinola
"I will ask him what encourages him to see some of God's children as less than human and
less worthy of the dignity that our liturgy believes is the right of all human beings."
(The Guardian, Jun 2006)
On the decisions of General Convention on sexuality
Interview: "[But] these decisions were made because we believe that's where the Gospel has
been calling us. The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has come to a reasonable conclusion and
consensus that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church and that our
ministry to and with gay and lesbian Christians should be part of the fullness of our life."
(Time Magazine, Jul 2006)
On the Covenant idea
"[The Archbishop of Canterbury is] very clear that we're not going to see an instant solution.
He's also clear about his role: it is to call people to conversation, not to intervene in diocesan
or provincial life—which some people have been asking for." (Time Magazine, Jul 2006)
On the Windsor Report
"All of this is a very long way of saying that neither this [Lambeth] commission, nor the
Archbishop of Canterbury, nor the gathering of primates, can make rules or laws that bind the
Episcopal Church." (2004 Diocesan Convention Address)
3. Theological Views:
"We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But
for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully
small box." (Time Magazine, Jul 2006)
On the message of Jesus
"The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that's certainly the great
message of Jesus - to include the unincluded." (CNN, Jun 2006)
On her reference to "Mother Jesus" in her sermon after election
"Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation - and you and I are His children."
(Episcopal News Service, Jun 19, 2006)
"It was very deliberate and conscious. I was wrestling with the image of blood on the cross,
the image of labour. It's medieval imagery actually, Julian of Norwich. It seemed appropriate
to the text and the hard work we are trying to do in this place." (The Guardian, Jun 2006; NB:
she did not cite the reference of any sort to this phrase in her sermon.)
On the Reign of God
Integrity (reporter): "Can you tell me about the reign of God?"
Schori: "I think of the scripture from Isaiah read by Jesus in the synagogue, the blind see,
the lame are healed. ... Our vision is one of social justice like the vision enshrined in the
Millennium Goals. The Millennium Goals are our vision of the reign of God." (ENS News
Conference, Jun 18, 2006)
We believe that revelation continues, that God continues to be active in creation, and that all
of the many ways of knowing — including geology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and
arts such as opera, punk rock or painting — can be vehicles through which God and human
beings partner in continuing creation.
On the place of doctrine
"[Q] 'What is your prayer for the church today?' [A] 'That we remember the centrality of our
mission is to love each other. That means caring for our neighbors. And it does not mean
bickering about fine points of doctrine.'" (Time Magazine, Jul 2006)
On doing theology
"Our heritage and context shape our theology. The ways in which we understand scripture and
appropriate gospel response to social realities are shaped both by our roots and our current
circumstances." (Speech in Seattle, Nov 2005)
On making faith decisions
"Making any kind of faith decision is based on accumulating the best evidence one can find -
what one's senses and reason indicate, what the rest of the community has believed over time,
and what the community judges most accurate today." (The Witness Magazine, Aug 2005)
4. Hostile attitude toward the minority:
On characterizing the minority
"I think it is the Evil One who is at work here, distracting us from our central focus, which
ought to be on feeding the hungry, relieving the needs of the poor, healing the sick. This
obsession is keeping us from doing that. To focus on issues of sexuality when people are
dying is a distraction from our mission."
On the minority in the House of Bishops, called 'dissenters'
"I think they need to be challenged, more so than they have been. I see signs of hope in
the House of Bishops, an unwillingness to continue to put up with bad behavior. We
haven't seen any action yet, but I think it is coming." (The Witness Magazine, Apr 2006)
When asked if that would be a 'verbal rebuke'
"It won't be enough in some cases, I am sure. But I have the sense that there is some desire to
hold each other accountable for actions that are not canonical, for actions that have the
appearance of being downright schismatic." (The Witness Magazine, Apr 2006)
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Pat's Animal House
Every picture tells a story. I certainly see the three very different personalities of my three animals. There's Elvis, who spends most of his time stretched out on his side (you would, too, if you had to carry that belly around). There's Jack, nimble and quick, and not camera shy in the least. There's Betsy, whom the camera makes nervous, but who's patient and loving and the best dog in the whole world.
Elvis: cat or Orca? You be the judge.
TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
I don't know if I like what's going on here.
Simply the bestus dog that ever was
Orca, er, Elvis, gets the last word.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Our friend Jeffrey, aka Toewalker, took a hiatus after the Archbishop of Canterbury said some particularly cloddish things. He's back, now, thanks to his true grit and the prayers of his friends.
Go take a look at this posting by his partner, R. at Musings of a Toe-walker. It's a gutsy and illuminating piece.
I marvel at the strength and courage of some of the saints.
P.S. I can't make the link work. Just go look at "A Boy and His Church."
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Pirates of the Anglican Communion:
Dead Man's Province, Part Cinq
Note: To read Part 1, go here. For Part 2, go here; For Part 3, go here. To read part 4 ... oh for Heaven's sake, just look back a couple of entries. Criminy. I haven't blogged that much lately.
Sparrow wakes up. His skull feels like his brains will simply pound through it. The floor beneath him is a bit uneven. It's cold, hard and dank.
With a moan, Sparrow pulls himself to a sitting position. His sword is missing, but quick checks reveal his flask, cross and Holy Water are intact in secret pockets sewn into his clothing. Sparrow takes a quick swig from the flask to ease the pain in his head, and becomes a bit more aware of his surroundings.
He's in a cell. A torch on the wall outside the cell provides its only light. Sparrow sees Father Jake in the shadows, and shakes him. Jake comes to, moaning as Sparrow did just moments before. Jake refuses Sparrow's offer of the flask, and pulls himself to a sitting position.
"Where are we?" Jake asks.
"I don't know. I only just came to, myself," Sparrow responds.
They hear slight sounds coming from the wall to the left of the cell door.
Jake puts his ear to the wall, listening. His fingers touch the bricks of the wall like those of a blind man reading Braille. He works out an uncemented brick, and the sounds of soft crying come through the opening.
"Who's there?" Jake asks.
The crying stops for a moment. A small voice says, "It's me. The Pirate Robert Duncan."
Peter Lorre plays the Pirate Robert Duncan
"Duncan?" Jake says. "What are you doing in a cell, here?"
"They took it away. All of it. My lovely church buildings, the pension funds, the tithes. They said they owned everything now, and didn't need me. When I told them they couldn't do that, they threw me in this horrible cell."
He starts crying again.
"Duncan, what is this place?"
"We're in the prison, on the lower level of the castle keep."
Duncan puts a rheumy eye to the rectangular opening.
"On the upper level is where the Gospel's being held prisoner," he says.
"The Gospel held prisoner? That's ridiculous. What are you talking about?" Jake replies.
"The Gospel. Pope Akinola has it encased in amber. He said, this way he knows nothing can ever change. The longer the Gospel stays trapped there, the greater the darkness grows. The farther back we go in time."
Duncan is silent for a moment, then his eye, opened wide, appears at the aperture again.
"Are you here to save the Gospel? To save us all? A prophet told me God will let the Gospel remain there, unless enough people want to save it."
Frowning, Jake asks, "Duncan, where are your pirate cohorts?"
"I don't know. They just disappeared."
Sparrow hears footsteps coming toward their cell. He motions to Jake, who replaces the brick.
The two men hear the sound of metal on metal as a key is inserted in the lock, and the cell door swings open.
"Here, you," a big thug says to Sparrow, and the thugs drag him off, his feet kicking at the floor in protest, and in a vain effort to get his footing.
A half hour later, Sparrow is the one crying.
Sparrow: swashbuckling no more
The big thug looks at him impassively. The smaller one cackles.
"Where is the Schori woman?" he asks.
"I don't know," Sparrow replies honestly, but he summonses as much defiance as he can into his answer.
He realizes his captors don't know where the bishop is, if they're trying to torture the information out of him.
"No one has endured the wheel more than 30 minutes without his head exploding," the short troll chortles, turning the lever, and the platform bearing Sparrow, tied to a chair, glides on wheels into a soundproofed room.
The voice in a video narrating the wonders of the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA) drones on again.
"NOOOO!" Sparrow cries. "MOMMYYYYYYY!"
He feels warmth coming from the pocket holding the cross his mother gave him when Sparrow was just a young lad. The cross she gave him just before she died.
Meanwhile, somewhere past the mists of Province X, somewhere where the sun shines, MadPriest has been fulfilling his mission. People are gathering -- Episcopalian, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregationalist -- even a few Nazarenes cautiously come out to join the chorus of voices. Pope Benedict prohibits Catholics from joining the ecumenical gathering, but millions, worldwide, ignore this just as they do most papal edicts, and join in.
People clasp hands and sing, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." They drop to their knees together, and pray for the Gospel light to be set free.
Even the Amish join in. At Archbishop Desmond Tutu's urging, people all over Africa (except most of them in Nigeria and Rwanda, of course) pour into the streets, singing and praying.
The Dalai Lama chants prayers for his Christian friends, odd though they are.
What is the meaning of this? Where is Bishop Schori?
Stay tuned to find out.