Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zombies, the Next Letter to Add to the Alphabet Soup?

Today's edition of the local rag, The Herald, had this story as frontpage news,
"York County's undead: 'Zombies are people, too'"
I hesitate to use the expression "tongue in cheek" when writing about zombies, but this article tried to do it. I think our local zombie couple did a good job keeping their tongues in their cheeks as the echoes of other's struggles towards full inclusion in society screamed out.
“'They’re making fun of us, actually,' Stalcup said as a group of fake zombies clad in prom dresses walked by."
Don't make fun of those seeking inclusion.

"Although the zombie community once lived in relative obscurity, he said, more and more they’re finding their way of life pushed to the forefront of a national dialogue, one that’s often severely prejudiced against zombies."
They should never have come out of their closets the ground.

“If they just slowed down, we’d show them how we feel,” said Renee Stalcup, who lamented how most people she approaches run away in apparent terror. “Zombies are people, too.”
Once you get to know them, you will be more welcoming.

The discrimination doesn’t make sense, Bonnie Stalcup said, because zombies live simple lives and aren’t any sort of burden to society. “I don’t need to work, and we don’t need much,” she said. “The ditch is a great place to sleep.”
Okay, we have touched all the keywords, prejudice, discrimination, the old "we are just like you"...
They used to be able to live quiet lives, the Stalcup family said. They would just go about their business without attracting much attention.
Yep, they were always amongst us, then they came out of the ground.

What will they want next, a blessing?
“All we need is a hug,” she said.
That hug might just be the first step on the slippery slope my friend.

(Read the full story at The Herald Online)

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Daniel is Thrown into the Lectionary Lions' Den

Did anyone notice what the RCL does to All Saints' Day in Year C? Astute observers from the frozen tundra noticed and forwarded this alert to our southern clime. The O.T. reading gets chewed up and spat out as the dream of Daniel gets struck from Daniel 7:1-3,15-18 which in its edited version leaves us with the markedly shortened,
7 In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream:*
2 I,* Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea,
3 and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me,* and the visions of my head terrified me.
16 I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter:
17 ‘As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.’ Daniel 7:1-3,15-18
Is it something that Daniel did or said that irked the editors of the RCL? I reflected back on the decision of the editors of the NRSV (the version used in our Episcopal church) to change the language of Daniel's dream and visions from,
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!" (New KJV)
to the more gender neutral,
"As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being*
coming with the clouds of heaven."
The problem with the NRSV's attempt to force gender neutrality becomes apparent when the "Son of Man" turns up later in the Bible. When the NRSV does opt to retain a gender positive statement such as in Matthew 25:31–46, we lose the connection with the O. T. vision because of the attempt to be "inclusive".

The lectionary committee should have been okay with the gender neutrality, so there must have been some other reason for the edit.

It may be just as well that the NRSV version will not get heard this Friday, but it is a shame that folks will miss out on such wonderful visions as,
"As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One* took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgement,"
We have already learned what the RCL does to verses that speak of God's judgment (search these pages for "Missing verses"), and maybe it was that, or maybe the references to the Ancient One as male upset someone enough to remove them from the ear of the congregation.

This is one lions' den that Daniel couldn't escape without a scratch.

With all the attacks on him, is it any wonder that modern people can't dig the God of Daniel?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

De-Fund 815: Your Pledge Dollars at Work Part III

This past week a large Anglican gathering, GAFCON 2, occurred in Nairobi, Kenya. Of interest to me was the vast difference between this meeting and similar gatherings of the Episcopal church. Thanks to the internet, I followed reports from the field which provided a list of some of the mini-conferences,

  • The Challenge of Islam – led by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit – led by Dr. Stephen Noll
  • Marriage and Family   -  led by Dr. John & Ruth Senyonyi
  • Children and Youths   -  Rev Zac Vernon
  • Gospel and Culture   -  Dr. Alfred Olwa
  • Being Women of God   -  Christine Perkin
  • Aid and Development   -  Rev Dennis Tongoi
  • Theological Education   -  Dr Andrew Shead
  • Episcopal Ministry   -  Bishop Wallace Benn
Last week our diocese held its annual convention and we had a brief summary presented to the congregation today. It doesn't sound like much happened on this side of the Atlantic other than passing a budget. I suppose no one proposed de-funding 815 this year, but I always thought it would be worth a try. After all, where does all that money go? A quick web search turned up the following recent resolutions from the Episcopal church's Executive Council which will give you some idea,

  • Call upon President Barack Obama and Congress to quickly pass and approve legislation to repair and restore the Voting Rights Act; encourage Episcopalians and especially General Convention deputies and members of committees, commissions, agencies and boards to contact their congressional representatives to urge them immediately to develop legislation that will restore and ensure the protection of equal voting rights for all Americans (AN014).
  • Direct the treasurer to file a shareholder resolution with Southwestern Energy on adopting goals to review its public-policy advocacy on energy policy and climate change (AN015).
  • Direct the treasurer to file a shareholder resolution with ConocoPhillips on adopting goals to reduce greenhouse emissions (AN016).
  • Direct the treasurer to file shareholder resolutions with Anadarko Petroleum and General Motors on conducting a risk assessment for human rights (AN017).

The usual social activism agenda (which is quite a contrast to that at GAFCON 2).

Digging a little deeper uncovered this,
"On the closing day of its Oct. 15-17 meeting here, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed to spend part of an unexpected revenue increase in the 2013-2015 budget on a new staff position dedicated to racial justice and reconciliation..." 
"...The decision to spend $258,000 in 2014 and 2015 to pay for the work of a staff officer to help foster racial justice and reconciliation came after what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori later called 'a very hard, conflicted and tense discussion...'” 
This pewsitter is not convinced that such a staff officer at 815 will actually accomplish the intended mission. In fact, the job proposal itself has already stirred up a bit of racial tension which may be the first reconciliation project for the new staff officer to tackle. For example,
 "After the Rev. Jon Floberg of North Dakota spoke of his concern about spending all the new revenue at once and asked what would happen if there was not enough money to continue funding for the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, Diocese of Michigan Wendell Gibbs told his colleagues that he assumed his colleagues were well-intentioned but said 'it doesn’t work when we unintentionally pit one ethnic group against another.'” 
Of course the political activism of the Episcopal church is what this is all about and therefore the Navajos can just eat dirt,
 "'The idea to add the position came in response to developments such as the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating key parts of the national Voting Rights Act,' Sauls said. 'Those events in particular, he said, prompted church center staff to think that “maybe it was time to return to spiritual leadership in advancing racial justice.'”
I rather suspect that the new staff position is just a way to give an 815 croney a do-nothing job for the next couple of years, and that this is all the more reason to de-fund 815.

If they were really into the racial justice bit, 815 should have sent its officers to GAFCON 2 (just take a good look at the lead picture in this story at StandFirm in Faith).

Instead of acting like our politicians and coming up with new spending projects with every hint of the possibility of more money, the Episcopal church's Executive Council needs to remember the notion of saving in times of surplus in order to survive the inevitable famine,
"And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it.  That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine which are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Joseph to Pharaoh, Genesis 41:35-36 RSV)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Be Careful Where You Point That Thing

Back when I was a kid, if you didn't have a toy gun, and the gang wanted to go outside and play war or cops and robbers, and all you had was your finger as a gun, the rule was that you could not make imaginary machine gun sounds when you "shot" at your enemy. One finger = single shot, two hands in position as if you were holding a tommy gun = machine gun and you could go "rat-a-tat-tat" all day long.

But the really cool kid was the one who got a "six finger" for Christmas.

I remember the ads on T.V. had a jingle, and it went something like this,
"SixFinger, SixFinger, Man alive! How'd I ever get along with five?"
We couldn't bring our toy guns or SixFingers to school (although pocket knives were okay). All we had was five fingers (on each hand) and our imaginations to battle invading Nazis, Yankees, or Daleks, and to play cops and robbers, or cowboys and indians during recess. And you had to pull the imaginary pin out of your imaginary hand grenade with your teeth and throw it before the imaginary count down blew it up in your hands but not too quickly such that your enemy might pick it up and toss it back at you.

These days, we would be arrested, suspended, and our case tried in the news media like this boy,

"According to Fox News, an 8-year-old Florida boy was suspended from school after using his finger as a pretend gun while playing cops and robbers with his friends.
Jordan Bennett was suspended for a day after administrators at Harmony Community School in Harmony, Fla., said the gesture was an act of violence, reported.
His mother, Bonnie, told the station she's concerned that her son may labeled violent with a suspension now on his academic record.
'He had nothing in his hand. It was a finger gun, a pretend gun,' Bonnie Bennett said. 'He didn't threaten violence. He didn't utter words that were inappropriate. He made a sound and used his fingers and that was it.'
School district officials told the station its code of conduct prohibits students from playing with invisible guns. Bonnie Bennett believes there are more effective ways the district could have disciplined her son."
Next thing you know, some genius will decide that poor parenting is to blame, and the State's social workers will be making a home visit with an eye to remove the child and place him in protective custody.

I hate to think what would have happened to my parents if today's rules were in place back then.

My shooting spit balls using the barrel of a BIC pen back in 5th grade would have gotten me in big trouble now.

Imagine the carnage!

That plastic pen barrel was far more accurate than the old SixFinger. You could dot the "i" of whatever word your teacher had written on the blackboard (remember those?) from a good ten paces and then quickly reinsert the ink and tip back into the pen before anybody could turn around and identify the shooter.

Now that kids can't play with imaginary weapons, I guess they will have to find something else to play with.

I wonder if they now have the need to play with real guns, and to shoot real people with real bullets.

Such might be the unintended consequences of the elimination of imagination on the playground.

Or am I just firing blanks?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who Says Thou Shalt Not Rebuke?

Not St. Paul in his charge to Timothy which was our Epistle reading for today (2 Timothy 3:14, 4:1-5). I went back and believe that we could have benefited from a more extended selection. As I watch the Episcopal church continue its love affair with apostasy and the continual loss of conservative voices in our diocese, I thought that this is one of those times in the life of the Church when "people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths." I was reassured by St. Paul who reminds us to continue to preach the Gospel at all times, to convince, rebuke, and exhort, and to be unfailing in patience and in teaching.
 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Ico′nium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and[a] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:10-17
 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-8

The false teachings will pass and the Word will remain, and until that time we shall rebuke and exhort no matter what anguish our false teachers might attribute to what they perceive to be harsh words.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

For St. Luke

Today is the day on our calendar that we honor St. Luke. I have a special fondness for Luke's Gospel. I spent a little time at the Catholic Encyclopedia web page this morning and found the following,

"St. Luke its always represented by the calf or ox, the sacrificial animal, because his Gospel begins with the account of Zachary, the priest, the father of John the Baptist. He is called a painter by Nicephorus Callistus (fourteenth century), and by the Menology of Basil II, A.D. 980. A picture of the Virgin in S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, is ascribed to him, and can be traced to A.D. 847 It is probably a copy of that mentioned by Theodore Lector, in the sixth century. This writer states that the Empress Eudoxia found a picture of the Mother of God at Jerusalem, which she sent to Constantinople (see 'Acta SS.', 18 Oct.). As Plummer observes. it is certain that St. Luke was an artist, at least to the extent that his graphic descriptions of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Shepherds. Presentation, the Shepherd and lost sheep, etc., have become the inspiring and favourite themes of Christian painters.
St. Luke is one of the most extensive writers of the New Testament. His Gospel is considerably longer than St. Matthew's, his two books are about as long as St. Paul's fourteen Epistles: and Acts exceeds in length the Seven Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse. The style of the Gospel is superior to any N.T. writing except Hebrews. Renan says (Les Evangiles, xiii) that it is the most literary of the Gospels. St. Luke is a painter in words. 'The author of the Third Gospel and of the Acts is the most versatile of all New Testament writers. He can be as Hebraistic as the Septuagint, and as free from Hebraisms as Plutarch. . . He is Hebraistic in describing Hebrew society and Greek when describing Greek society' (Plummer, introd.). His great command of Greek is shown by the richness of his vocabulary and the freedom of his constructions."
The lectionary pages offer the following prayer,
"Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever."
Let me add my special thanks for the orderly witness of St. Luke and what his work has meant to me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"What We Shall Become: The Future and Structure of the Episcopal Church" C'MON MAN!

Would you buy Lane Kiffin's Winning Playbook?


That's exactly what I thought when I saw the Episcopal church's newest publication, "What We Shall Become: The Future and Structure of the Episcopal Church” edited by Winnie Varghese+ (who I mentioned in an earlier post) and who has accepted as contributors the likes of,
They have assembled a veritable who's who team of TEc insiders for this book. Who better to shape the next season of the church than those who have done such a bang up job in the past? 
Episcopal church decline in ASA over 10 years
What a playbook for success! C'MON MAN!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nine Times Out of Ten

Today's Gospel reading was Luke 17:11-19 and the story of the ten lepers,

"On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’"

Our sermon today had thankfulness as its theme and avoided the issue of the nine who kept on going on their way to the priests.

I have always thought that the nine represented the 90% of us who are quick to accept God's blessing but are slow to thank Him.

I found some additional commentary at that you might find helpful and which applies to my last post on the "one stream" issue,

There is one other lesson in the exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan man. God's grace, even though it is extended to all, does not mean that all gain salvation. God blesses humanity in a general way, but only the responsive who appreciate what he has done in Christ receive his full blessing and acceptance. Among the ten former lepers, only the Samaritan hears the comforting words "Your faith has made you well." His gratitude has revealed his faith. Jesus commends him for his response and assures him that the appreciation he expressed is also appreciated.

When one surveys the Scripture to see what we are called to be grateful for, an interesting point emerges. Often biblical texts simply call on us to thank God. No specific reason is cited. It is a "fill in the blank" exercise, an exercise in reflection on how God has been good recently. The perspective seems to be: Look for the sun; do not dwell on the clouds. Don't focus on events or things, but on people and on God. Perhaps if we responded to God and other people in this way, life would be brighter. A typical passage is 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, in which God is to be thanked for his presence and availability. But if we live apart from God, who is there to thank? The pursuit of things, status or power ultimately is a lonely existence.

"A perusal of the Word provides a full list of large reasons to be grateful. God is thanked for his deliverance (Ps 35:18), for loving us and being faithful (Ps 52:9; 107:8), for hearing our cry (Ps 118:21), for safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15), for other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom 1:8), for the gift of salvation that enables one not to sin (Rom 6:17), for delivering us from our tendency to sin (Rom 7:25), for the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Cor 14:18), for resurrection hope (1 Cor 15:57), for testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor 2:14), for the support of a colleague in ministry (2 Cor 8:16), for other believers (Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Philem 4), for those who respond to God's Word (1 Thess 2:13), for being able to serve others for God (1 Tim 1:12) and for his attributes (Rev 4:9). Those are just some of the options for thanksgiving.
Notice that this list includes not one item having to do with things, with possessions. The occasions for gratitude all have to do with relationships or circumstances in relationship to others. Colossians 3:15 says to "be thankful." That is what the foreigner was. That is what disciples are to be. Remember thank-yous, especially to our good, gracious and great God--and let the sun shine in."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

“There is no other stream”

How many times have you heard the expression, "All streams flow to the same ocean" when someone is trying to support the popular idea that all religions lead to God? I hear it all the time, and in fact I think our own Presiding Bishop might agree with that expression. When I get into it with people over this idea, I invariably fail to communicate the uniqueness of Christ in a way that swings the pendulum in Christ's favor. In the usual course of events, I am the one who winds up being labeled as closed minded or worse. These days, in order to be seen as someone who desires to get along or coexist with those who deny the uniqueness of Christ, you better not disagree with them in writing or out loud. For if you do, your opponents will shout "COEXIST!" and slap one of their bumper stickers on your car. It seems that "coexist" has come to mean "don't contradict", and isn't that what conservative parishes in our diocese are being asked to do as Bishop Waldo moves the same-sex blessing ball forward, to peacefully coexist despite our different belief systems?

In the case of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, we will be expected to live and let live by not openly disagreeing with our neighboring parishes. What is hoped to be created will be a pluralistic diocese in which the church which performs same sex blessings and the church that refuses to perform them will both be considered to be headed to the same ocean.

Can such a pluralistic church effectively evangelize the Gospel? What happens when a newcomer is presented with two alternative streams from the get-go? One stream clearly emanates from revisionist waters, and the effluent of revisionist teaching is slowly but effectively poisonous. The other stream carries the living water flowing from the Word of God. Those waters just don't mix well. When I try to explain this duality to a non-Episcopalian, my listener winds up shaking his head and walking away. Most people believe that different religions should peacefully coexist even if one or the other is headed in a totally wrong direction, but they recognize that different doctrines cannot coexist within a given denomination without there being serious problems down the road.

When those of us who oppose same sex blessings being performed by the Church speak out that the path chosen by our bishop is a departure from our one and only source of living water, those offended by our opinions will quickly paint us as mean and hateful people who do not want to coexist (which is another way of saying that they themselves are perfectly willing to coexist with anyone except those who are opposed to their worldview).

I won't let it get me down, and my brain keeps working on ideas to change the picture of church conservatives into something more attractive.

Why can't we come up with a bumper sticker as effective as these have been?

One idea I had was "There is only one stream" with John 14:6 referenced.

But that would probably get your car rammed into by someone with a COEXIST sticker on their bumper.

I need to come up with something more positive. How about, "His Way is The Way"?

Bumper stickers are probably not the best way of getting a message across, but they do point to a greater narrative or story. The use of story is a time tested way of communicating essential truths. These days, it may seem that the hardest part in telling a story is to get people to listen, but people still have the potential to be receptive to new stories. After all, they must have listened to and heard the pluralistic message at some point in order to have accepted it as truth. Are there are stories out there that communicate the elements of the Gospel that contradict pluralism in a way that turns people on instead of turning them off?

In C.S. Lewis' book "The Silver Chair", Jill, who is very thirsty, encounters the Great Lion, Aslan, who is between her and a stream of water.
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

h/t C.S. Lewis Society, Reflections August 2010—Communicating Truth Through Story

Lewis has Aslan the Lion (note the capital "L", the Christ figure in Narnia, communicate the message many today need to hear, “There is no other stream,” and that to look for any other one will only lead to death. Yes, Aslan's stream is frightening to approach, and we fear that we may die if we try to drink from it, but there is no other way.

Many see the pluralistic message that all rivers lead to the same ocean as the best way of peaceful coexistence in this troubled world/diocese, but should we agree when the message that the world/diocese sends us contradicts the message of Christ as found in the Gospel?    

Do we dare to contradict the world?

From Acts of the Apostasy
"There is one divine remedy, and only one. It is no mixture. Receive ye it and live—'With His stripes we are healed.' No sprinkling can wash out sin, no confirmation can confer grace, no masses can propitiate God.
Your hope must be in Jesus, Jesus smitten, Jesus bruised, Jesus slain, Jesus the Substitute for sinners. Whosoever believes in Him is healed, but all other hopes are a lie from top to bottom...
Oh, for a trumpet to sound this through every town of England! Through every city of Europe! Oh, to preach this in the Colosseum! Or better still from the pulpit of St. Peter’s!—'With His stripes we are healed.'
Away, away ye deceivers, with your mixtures and compounds. Away ye proud sons of men with your boastings of what ye feel, and think, and do, and what ye intend and vow. 'With His stripes we are healed.'
A crucified Saviour is the sole and only hope of a sinful world."
--Charles H. Spurgeon, "A Simple Remedy," in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XVIII (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1872), 491.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

"The Hand That Made Us Is Divine."

Hawaiian Sunset

Sometimes when you gather for worship you are struck by one word, or one small phrase. Today it was the last line, "The hand that made us is divine." Too many times we look around at the world, and at each other and fail to see the creator's hand. We are so satisfied with the explanations of science and reason for the phenomena about us that we may have lost the ability to use terms such as "great," "wondrous," or "glorious." I wonder if Addison's words are a challenge to the Age of Reason when he writes, "In reason’s ear they all rejoice."
1. The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display;
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand. 
2. Soon as the evening shades prevail,
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth:
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings as they roll
and spread the truth from pole to pole. 
3. What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice;
for ever singing as they shine,
"The hand that made us is divine." 
Words: Joseph Addison (1672-1719); para of Psalm 19:1-6 Music: Creation, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809); adapt. Dulcimer, or New York Collection ofsacred Music, 1850, alt.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Kids Sure Do Blow Up Fast These Days

Maybe we should add this to the religion of peace files,
PARIS (Reuters) - A woman who sent her three-year-old son - called Jihad - to school in a T-shirt marked "Jihad, Born September 11, I am a bomb" was fined and given a suspended jail sentence by a French court on Friday.

Bouchra Bagour was found guilty of condoning a criminal act, along with her brother Zeyad, who bought the child the T-shirt recalling Islamist militant group al Qaeda's attacks on New York on September 11, 2001, that killed close to 3,000 people.

The matter ended up in court after Jihad went to his nursery school in September 2012 wearing the T-shirt, upsetting staff and prompting a local official to take legal action.

Overturning an earlier acquittal, the appeals court in the southern town of Nimes fined the woman 2,000 euros ($2,700) and gave her a one-year suspended jail sentence, doubling that fine and suspended jail sentence for the uncle.

(Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Louise Ireland)
That is one messed up mother and uncle, and I wonder how accurately this blip on the radar screen reflects the reality of Islam and Western civilization. Kudos to the appeals court in Nimes.

I have always been in favor of school uniforms, and this policy may need to be considered at the nursery school level in the future if parents are going to use their kids as walking billboards to advance an adult political agenda.

What would happen if a kid named Christy was sent to one of our public schools wearing a shirt that had "Christ Saves" printed on it here in the states?

Prayers ascending for our world.

Not that prayer!