"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Saw Game 7 from Stratton Edwards' apartment in D.C., yelling and screaming more than probably anyone else in the D.C. area. Talked to Joe Chambers after, who was nearly apoplectic with joy and then IM'd with Lesley and with Hopie (who actually got to go to the game). Five of us in four cities all celebrating the same thing: The Cardinals in the World Series!
It's really a no-lose situation. Either the Cardinals win, which will be wonderful ... or the Red Sox win and break the curse -- and people like my great friend Manny, who have been lifelong Red Sox fans and have experienced cross theology from a baseball perspective more often than anyone should, will be in heaven. So even if the Cards lose, I can be happy for the Red Sox (at least I say that now). I hope it goes seven.
Catching up with Stratton has been great. He's staffing for a Congressman from Oklahoma and going to school for his master's three nights a week. Tomorrow it's off to Atlanta for the national church's young adult ministry conference.
Keep the ECM fall breakers in your prayers ... they're in Nashville right now working with the amazing community of women at Magdalene House.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 How 'bout them Red Sox!!!
And how 'bout them Cardinals! I got to watch/listen to most of the game but had to leave the TV in the top of the 9th after the Astros tied it up and go back into my meeting. Followed the rest of it thanks to the miracle of wireless web on my phone ... all the way to the 12th when Edmonds hit the homer. Game 7 tomorrow.
I've been at a meeting of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns. It's an amazing group of people charged by the church with making policy recommendations on international peace and justice issues to General Convention.
Over the past two days, we've heard from former ambassadors and state department employees and people who work with refugees and even Archbishop Nduungane of Southern Africa to hear about what life is like in places like Haiti, Cuba, Southern Africa, China, and particularly Israel/Palestine.
It's sobering to say the least. To hear about women in Haiti who are so poor (the unemployment rate in the whole country is 85-90%) that they literally have to choose which children to feed and which to let starve. To hear about religious persecution and human rights violations in China. To hear about the punitive restrictions that the House is trying to put on Cuban refugees in America and help with lobbying efforts against them. To hear about the utter complexities of the situation in the Middle East and to hear from people who were in the room with President Clinton about how close we really came to peace (it was surreal watching the West Wing tonight and see that fictional administration tackle Israel/Palestine after spending so much time with these people today who had really been in that room).
Archbishop Ndungane was inspirational and amazing -- talking not just about the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in his country and all of Africa but of the current situation in the church and, most passionately, about the need for universal primary education and the church's need to put aside its internal differences and work on that (and, btw, that the world spends $1 trillion a year on armaments and for the cost of 4 1/2 days of world military spending we could guarantee universal primary education).
In the midst of all this, the good news is that there are amazing dedicated people who believe in the power of God to overcome these things -- and in their own abilities to be God's hands, feet, eyes, mouth, heart, and legs in this work.
And in the midst of all this, the good news that the DIocese of Missouri has officially named All SOuls Liberian Episcopal Church and Child Development Center in Buduburam as a mission priority of the diocese ... which means that you can donate to it through the diocese of missouri and get your tax deduction!
SO -- for all those who have expressed interest in helping out these amazing Liberian refugees, you can make those checks out to the EPiscopal Diocese of Missouri and put "Liberian Refugee Church" in the memo line and send it to me at:
St. Louis, MO 63105
Every dollar counts. Please be generous. I'll write more about this later.
Tomorrow is a big day. We finalize our international travel goals as a commission and then I get to have coffee with my former spiritual director, Vicki Sirota, then get together with Stratton tomorrow night to dine and watch Game 7.
Friday, October 15, 2004 I was thinking more about the God Bless America cross and realizing that my first response to it was frustration and anger. That seems to be my first response to a lot of things these days, and that's a problem because though it may be very human it's not the best of being human. The best of being human is when we either rise above or push through the frustration and anger to reach out in love.
And, ironically, that's what the cross is about. It's also about Jesus saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." On my lips that needs to be less of a "God, forgive those miserable wretches who are obviously not as enlightened as I" (which is tempting) but instead, God forgive us and stay faithful to us as we all struggle with all this stuff.
The best of the cross and the best of America -- what we can be and at times are -- is that we are all in it together for a greater good.
But the star-spangled cross is still a big problem. It's a huge problem and, frankly, a travesty when our most precious symbol and call to a sacrificial discipleship becomes a symbol of empire and, alternately, costume jewelry. Maybe the first step is spending some time remembering on our hearts what the cross really is. I need to do that as much as anyone.
So, providentially, today I open up the page from the readings book we use for Morning Prayer and there is this. I invite you to join with me in reading and meditating on it. And I'd welcome your comments on any of the above or below:
A Reading from Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne.
The cross is the abyss of wonders, the centre of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theatre of joys, and the place of sorrows. It is the root of happiness, and the gate of heaven.
Of all the things in heaven and earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects. It is an ensign lifted up for all nations; to it shall the Gentiles seek. Its rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it from the four corners of the earth. If love be the weight of the soul, and its object the centre, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this object, cleave unto this centre, and by it enter into rest. There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God's goodness, wisdom, and power, yea his mercy and anger displayed. There we may see humanity's sin and infinite value, our hope and fear, our misery and happiness. There we might see the rock of ages and the joys of heaven. There we may see a man loving all the world, and a God dying for humanity. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies, and all nations adoring a malefactor -- an innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in eternity united, all mysteries at once couched together and explained.
The only reason why this glorious object is so publicly admired by churches and kingdoms, and so little thought of my particular people, is because it is truly the most glorious. It is the root of comforts and the fountain of joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all worlds. It is a well of life beneath in which we may see the face of heaven above, and the only mirror wherein all things appear in their proper colours: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Saviour.
The cross of Christ is the Jacob's ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful patriarchs, expectant saints, prophets ministering, apostles publishing, and doctors teaching, all nations concentering, and angels praising. That cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame that illuminateth all the world. The flame is love: the love in his bosom who died on it, in the light of which we see how to possess all the things in heaven and earth after his similitude.
Thursday, October 14, 2004 From the "if Jesus saw this, he'd be rolling in his grave ... no, wait a minute ... well, you know what i mean" department:
It's too easy a target to go into the litany of why this is ridiculous, ironic and just plain offensive to anyone with the remotest grasp of the Gospel.
But forgetting for a second what this must look like to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and any number of other American citizens ... what if we really did have a nation that based its actions on the theology of the cross, the theology of humanity being called to imitate Christ in giving up self for the life of the world.
Would we have a foreign policy that embraces pre-emptive first-strikes. (Hey, Jesus said if someone strikes you on one cheek to turn the other ... he never said anything about don't pop the guy first to begin with!) Would we have millions of people without health care? Would we have an election system that disenfranchises the poor, the homeless and ethnic minorities?
Someone should tell whomever is making this that if you're going to appropriate the cross as a national symbol, there's a little baggage that goes with it.
Of course, maybe I'm misinterpreting this. Maybe they're taking this from a pro-Roman standpoint. Maybe this is an argument for a return to the pax Romana where troublemakers and dissidents were publicly executed to keep the people in line.
Hmmm ... the scary thing is that's actually a lot less of stretch.
Monday, October 11, 2004 Scattershooting at 1:25 am...
Debatefest at Wash. U. was pretty surreal. The police in riot gear with attack dogs outside Rockwell House was a definite highlight. Saw a bit of DNC chair Terry McAuliffe at Kayak's, but he didn't say anything that wasn't predictable. After the debate, Lindsay, Jen, Pete, Laurie and I went down to the Hardball set outside Graham Chapel where I picked up a Kerry sign and joined the throng of folks waving signs and whooping when the director told us to. So I filled my quota of doing at least one debate-related thing....
Speaking of the debate, I really think I watched a different debate than everyone else. It's entirely possible I'm just blinded by my political leanings, but I really thought that Kerry did superbly and that President Bush came off as kind of repetitive, whiny and mean (esp. when he ran all over Charlie Gibson). In terms of substance and just making sense, I thought Kerry had it all over him. But everyone seems to think that it was a tie. Is it just incredibly low expectations for Bush or do I just value different things or am I just fooling myself. As Fox News would say ... YOU DECIDE...
Even though I like the Twins, I am just thrilled to have another Red Sox-Yankees ALCS. I think the Red Sox have the better pitching and thus the better shot ... but if they lose, it will still be great in the way that crushingly painful baseball things are painful. In the NL, the Astros scare me so I'm really pulling for the Braves. If the Cards make it to the series, you either get Cards-Red Sox, which is great because even if the Cards lose, the Red Sox win which is cool in its own way (esp. for Manny and my other Boston friends) or you get Cards-Yankees, which is great because if the Cards lose, you get to hate the Yankees even more. Oh, and gotta love the web access on my new cell phone for following the playoffs from anywhere...
Thinking of going to the Sudan in April. Both Bishop Smith and Bishop Bullen Dolli have invited me ... plus I have two students interested in going. Robin thinks I should definitely go. Can't think of a really good reason not to go at this point. It seems to be the trajectory my life is being drawn into....
Had coffee with Beth Maynard and Mark Dirksen on their way through town on Thursday. Just a fabulous time. Wish they lived closer. They are on a sabbatical pilgrimage around the Eastern U.S. looking at emerging church communities ... then they'll probably do 3 months in South Africa doing HIV/AIDS work. Beth is one of the editors of the U2 book.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."