Thursday, July 23, 2015

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach says "Hey".

This is a big day in the life a humble Anglican layman such as myself.

There is an Orthodox Church Council happening in Atlanta, GA. A clergy friend of mine is attending. He texted me this, about bumping into a well-known Anglican there.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

July, 2015 Visit to Grace Church, Mt. Washington (Pittsburgh)

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? * or who shall rise up in his holy place? 
Even he that hath All-Wheel Drive, and a stout motor; * and that hath not let his clutch foot to slip, nor sworn when his car hath rolled back at the stop sign.
Visiting my favorite Anglican parish church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania involves driving up a very steep hill on Sycamore Street.  And there is a stop sign for a cross street just at one of the steepest places.  So, when worshipping at Grace Church, Mt. Washington, it really does feel as if one is ascending into the hill of the Lord!

In fact, it feels as if one is being taken up into heaven.  And the reason for this is the best possible one:  that one actually is being taken up (if only for an hour or two) into heaven!

I've visited Grace Church before with my family, and it feels like heaven every time.  Everything about the church and its people makes us feel at home.  My visit today proved no exception to this rule.

I did make one mistake at the outset of this morning's worship, and that was not to grab hold of the little goldenrod sheet of paper that contained all of the Scripture readings, including the Psalm, which was chanted responsively.  But even this worked out for the best, since I had worn my voice out a bit on the processional hymn, and not having the Psalm in front of me gave my voice a needed break from singing, and the congregation a needed break from my voice!

The sermon, given by Fr. John Porter, focused on the Gospel lesson from St. Mark, the 6th Chapter.  It is St. Mark's account of the feeding of the five thousand.  At the reading of the Gospel, perhaps inspired by the amazing incense used at Grace Church, I noticed something about this story I'd never noticed before, and it was something rather comical.  Verses 31 through 33 tell the story:  

"And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.' For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 
 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.
 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them."

How did I never notice this before, the comedy of it?  The Lord of the Universe is simply trying to get some rest from the ceaseless round of crowds coming to see him, and he is thwarted (by his own creatures) in even that.  It is as if God the Father allows his Son to be outwitted, in a sense.  As I visualized it through the cloud of incense, it seemed to me like something out of a comedic silent movie, like a scene in a Chaplin or Harold Lloyd film.  Jesus and the Apostles trying to make their getaway, but being thwarted by people from all the surrounding towns racing on foot to beat them there, so that there were 5000 men in the "lonely place" by the time they got there!

To borrow (and highly modify) a phrase from a Lightnin' Hopkins song, "Travel on the heel is faster than travel on the keel."  (What Hopkins actually said was, "Rubber on the wheel is faster than rubber on the heel.")

Fr. Porter's sermon made several good points about the Gospel story, which I won't go into here, but soon it was time to "ascend into the hill of the LORD" for the Lord's feast.  I probably shouldn't focus on details like this, but one thing that helps a person of weak faith such as myself is when I am allowed to receive more than just a few molecules of consecrated wine from the chalice, and today I was granted a nice large swallow.  (Perhaps there was the suspicion that I had a particularly large number of sins to be washed away, but I rather think that this generosity was shown to all.)  In my 25 years as an Anglican, I've encountered quite a few chalice bearers who seem to take is as their Prime Directive to give as little of the wine as possible to those receiving.  I've never understood this phenomenon.  But that was certainly not the case here.

I should mention that there was a guest organist today (I did not get his name) who did a very fine job!

The entire worship experience, from start to finish, was a complete joy.

After the service, a coffee hour was held in the undercroft, after which a truly special treat was in store.  For today's Adult Spiritual Formation class, we learned about Anglican priest and poet George Herbert from J. D. Wright, a scholar in the study of Herbert and the Metaphysical Poets.  This was not only a great and very informative session, but it was spiritually very moving as well.

I can hardly wait to come back and visit Grace Church, Mt. Washington again!

Friday, July 10, 2015


A woman was sitting outside the front window of my gym this morning. She looked just like Michael Moore. She was at least 100 pounds overweight, and she chain smoked the entire 40 minutes she sat there. Every so often, she would take a swig from a bottle of soda pop. Several times, she glanced inside the gym to see what we meatheads were doing in there. 

So, I started composing a mental blog ... likening her situation to those who remain outside the church. All the solutions to her problems (well, at least the problem of looking just like Michael Moore) were just a few feet away. But she would not come and join us. 

And then, because I've done a lot of laps around the track of life, I realized that her occasional glances were not looks of admiration, but of pity. She pitied us because we were breathing recycled air under a steel roof and tangle of ventilation pipes, while she breathed the fresh morning air under God's own sapphire pavement. We listened to horrid pop tunes and watched a poker tournament on a small TV while she heard the songs of the birds and watched the sunrise. We looked forward to a half cup of dry oats and 5 oz of dry chicken breast, while she had clearly feasted on the richest food the earth can offer. Yes, in her tobacco-incense-filled reverie ... she pitied us poor meatheads. 

And as she sat and smoked, she composed a mental blog about how we bodybuilders were like those who sat trapped in the world, unwilling to come out into the expansive universe of God's great love and beneficence. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stars, Bars, and the Wrath of The Market

There has been a bit of hand-wringing and knee-jerking (mostly from folks in harmony with my own politics) about companies cleansing their shelves (virtual or real) of "Confederate flag" related merchandise. 

I myself was mostly astounded at the speed of the thing. It scared me. I don't like mob rule. But upon further reflection, these are simply wealthy corporations (which I love and defend) attempting to react to perceived (future) market forces.

All good companies do this. And with the world so inter-webbed and with worldwide communication causing news and trends to move with lightning speed, a company has to move nimbly to get out ahead of the coming wave of consumer wrath. In this environment, being perceived as having to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into conformity with The New Consensus (on any given subject) is a kind of economic suicide. 

The Market moves very quickly in our day. And haven't we (Right-minded people) always said to trust The Market? Yes, we have. And I do. It is possible that The Market shall punish eBay for disallowing the purchase of "General Lee" Dodge Charger car models. But, I don't expect so. 

In short, I can find no fault in these companies having done what they have done. There may be some fault elsewhere, which we can discuss if you like.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Language of Privilege

At long last, I have identified what it is that really bugs me about the language of Privilege. You know, as in Male Privilege or White Privilege.

I mean, I already had two solid objections to it before my epiphany this morning.  For one thing, in practice it is mainly used to shut up white males.  If a Liberal has no substantive reply to a valid point made by someone who is white, male, or both, she merely has to reply with, "Check your privilege!"  Which roughly translates to:  "I haven't got any substantive answer for you, but you shut up, because your Privilege makes anything you say invalid."

Then, too, I have noticed that all the successful people who are from racial minorities or who are women have never achieved that success by wringing their hands about Privilege.  They either ignore it, or find a way past it.

But what I noticed this morning was something else, which may be the real reason so many object to the term.  And it has to do with where you draw the "zero line" for what is tolerable in the treatment of one human being (or set of human beings) by another.

For it the language of Privilege, simply being treated fairly or being left alone is labeled as Privilege, when clearly it should not be seen that way.  Being treated fairly should be the norm!  If you Google the phrase "examples of white privilege", you'll turn up links like this one.  And what are the examples given in these lists of White Privilege?

  • Because of white privilege, you’ll never have to worry about becoming the victim of law enforcement officers.
  • Thankfully, you’ll never have to know what it feels like to see your teenage son’s death being mocked.
  • White privilege means not having to worry about your hair, skin color, or cultural accessories as the reason you didn’t get a job.
  • White privilege means you don’t have to worry about being monitored in a store just because the hue of your skin is a bit darker than most.
Now hold on just one second here!  These are PRIVILEGES!?!?!  No, these are all things that didn't happen ...  they are non-entities, non-events.  It is not a privilege to not be beaten by police officers.  This is how everyone ought to be treated!  If some groups are not (and I don't dispute this fact), call it a crime against the injured parties, not a privilege for those who simply didn't get persecuted.

What are the effects of calling it Privilege to be simply left alone?

1.  Being mistreated is now the norm.  You are being treated better (given a privilege) if you are not mistreated.  This is no way to go through life looking at things.

2.  The "Privilege" is seen as the problem, and therefore solutions are implemented to punish those who have "Privilege."  But the fact that some people are not persecuted is not the problem:  the problem is that some are!  By this verbal shell game, those who use the language of Privilege have diverted attention from where it belongs (punishing those who persecute and mistreat members of groups they don't like) to a place where it does not belong (those who, minding their own business going about life, have the gall NOT to be persecuted.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dylann Roof's Thievery

Much has been said and blogged about the tragic cost of the actions of racist mass-murderer Dylann Roof.  The cost in terms of human life and grief is incalculably large.

Dylann Roof stole joy and life from the people of this faith community.  

The family members of the nine Charleston Martyers handled this incredibly difficult situation with overcoming Christian love.

But Roof stole other things, too.  One thing he stole was the ability for us to easily trust one another.  Can you imagine being a member of an all black church, and having a white visitor come and join your church in worship?  What thoughts would go through your mind?  Would you not wonder if this visitor was the next in a series of Dylann Roofs?  You could not be blamed for thinking such a thing.  And it has a chilling effect on everyone involved.  The white visitor of good will may easily choose not to visit, not wanting to scare anyone.

When I was a grad student at Purdue University, I sometimes visited a small C.O.G.I.C. (Church of God in Christ) parish, which was 100% African-American.  It afforded me the opportunity to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that was outwardly very much different than the Dutch Reformed-style worship of my own home church at that time.

I profited from attending there.  But today, in the wake of the Charleston church murders, could I even visit that church?  I don't think I could.  Not for a long time, anyhow.  It wouldn't be fair to the parish to distract them from their worship of Almighty God, wondering about the Other in their midst.

Time can heal some wounds.  But not if men like Dylann Roof keep ripping them open.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

1962 Mercury Meteor - New Exhaust, 2-Tone steelies, & M/T Drag Radials!

We've made a few improvement to our 1962 Mercury Meteor, in anticipation of a few cars show, but mostly in anticipation of the 2015 Michigan Gumball Rally!  We'll be #62!