Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 Thingie Proxy Race is Completed!

Long-time followers of this blog (are there any?) may recall that my son Eliot and I are somewhat involved in the Vintage Slot Car hobby. Well, actually only in a small corner of that hobby, in which vintage Thingie slot cars are raced.

This is now the 3rd year in which cars from all over the world have been sent across continents and oceans to be raced all across Europe by drivers we've mostly not even met. We entered two cars last year and only one this year. The overall results are in, and of 34 cars in the Fast & Scratchbuilt class, we finished 19th. Not bad, considering we really don't know much about building these cars or procuring fast vintage motors. Here are the results:

I've also mentioned Edo Bertoglio before ... Edo is known as the King of the Thingies ... or simply the Thingie Kingie ... and here is why. Take a look at part of his Thingie collection, which will form the centerpiece of an Art Show he is putting on next month:

If you squint real hard, you can see the car I painted for him (3rd row, 6th column ... a purple paisley creation).

For anyone wanting to learn more about the Magical Mystery Tour that was the 2008 Thingie Proxy Race, please click here for Edo's Proxy Diaries!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Satan's Most Effective Lie

Based upon the hundreds of cartoons I have seen which assume this view, the dozens of pop songs which are based on it, and the clueless discussion of the topic of hell on internet forums, I estimate the devil's most effective lie to be this: that he is the Proprietor of hell, rather than the chief being for whom it was set alight, and the first one who will be cast into that everlasting fire.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ... (Matthew 25:41)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

September 23, 1979 - Organized Religion

Sometimes, in order to help me love those I have the most trouble loving (e.g., Obama supporters), I have to remember who I used to be myself.

One day in my life that seems to best capture who I was 30 years ago is
Sunday, September 23, 1979. I was an engineering student at The Cooper Union, beginning my senior year, and I resided on Manhattan's lower east side.

That day is interesting to me because it brought together so many things that seem to have typified various aspects of my life up to that point, and in some cases, since. To understand my day that Sunday, you need to know that I was a recreational consumer of LSD in those days, and that was a day I was tripping. (
Strike 1 against me, from my current persective of a middle-class, middle-aged, well-respected-man-about-town-doing-the-best-things-so-conservatively perspective.) My acid friends and I had something very special planned: We attended the No Nukes Rally and Concert in Battery Park, under the shadow of the World Trade Center's twin towers. (That would be Strike 2, although I was never really anti-nuclear power - my stated reason for being there was to take footage for a film - which, however, I never completed.) Being against nuclear power is like being against the sun.

The concert, even in (or, especially in) my acid-dipped state, was tremendous. I recall very clearly
Crosby, Stills & Nash, and even more clearly Bonnie Raitt. I also remember the way that the event's fundraiser made their financial "appeal" to the 250,000 drunk/stoned Obama supporters hippies:

Okay, now all you people (said the guy at the mic), I want you to feel in your pants pockets, and see if you can feel something like a little leather carrying case. Can you locate something like that? Okay, good! Now, inside of that thing, see if you can find some green pieces of paper, with some pictures of old guys printed on them ... now I want you to take those green pieces of paper and drop them into the plastic garbage sacks that our red-shirted volunteers are bringing around to you ...

I mean, I was tripping pretty heavily, but even I could see through
that ... I wished I had worn a red shirt and brought a garbage bag with me. Anyhow, that was about the time I left, with one or two friends, I think. For some reason, we thought it would be cool to take the elevator up to the top of the World Trade Center. Which we did. I felt very guilty about it, even at the time, because our boots were incredibly muddy (Battery Park being what it was at that time), and we tracked mud all over the inside of the WTC lobby. I heard the voice of my mom, ringing in my head, shaming me for tracking mud into someone else's place. Strike 3.

After we rode the elevator back down, we went back outside and began to walk up Broadway. When we got to Wall Street, we rested on the grounds of Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street.

And this is where I need to talk for a moment about Organized Religion. It is still fashionable for the young people I meet (e.g., in internet forums) to say that they are very spiritual, but that they detest Organized Religion.

Other than that it is bunk, I have two things to say about that. The first is that once you get inside, you realize that
Organized Religion is not organized at all. It is a howling mess of disorganization, if I ever saw one. And yet, as I sat on the porch of Trinity, Wall Street, I felt the same thing. That the very stones of this Episcopal church were crying out to me, and that they were crying out in the name of all Christian churches, and that they were crying out to me that Christianity was true. Those stones cried the same unutterable testimonies as I had heard from the Presbyterian church I had attended with my parents. It took getting inside, really inside, both kinds of churches to find out that they pretty much loathe each other.

And the second thing is a corollary from that, which is: Because to the pagans outside, we all (in the several branches of Christ's church) appear as a monolithic One, it would be a Very Good Thing if we could all cry out the same Creeds. It would be good if we could all go back to orthodoxy, as Chesterton defined it:
When the word "orthodoxy" is used here it means the Apostles' Creed, as understood by everybody calling himself Christian until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those who held such a creed. Of course, Chesterton wrote that in 1908, so that now we'd have to say "until a little over 100 years ago."

My point is that we in the churches never know what pagan is sitting on our porch, listening to our testimony. We do not all proclaim the same Creed nowadays. Our actions prove it. That same Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, is now famous for the Clown Eucharist, which even in my acid-drenched mental state of September 23, 1979 I would have realized to be inauthentic to the "historic conduct of those who held such a creed." It belonged to that spirit of meaningless hilarity which I'd just left behind in Battery Park ... and I would not have listened to such nonsense.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

1st Annual Hot Rod Anglican Cafepress Awards

All of these logos were found simply by searching for "Anglican" at CafePress ...

And, our first winner, for Best False Dichotomy is (drum roll ...):

In the Scariest Message category (watch out for folks driving a car with this bumper sticker!) ...

In the Best Unintentionally True Message category (envelope, please!) ...

This next award is for the Worst Misspelling of "Millennium Development Goals" ...

In the Harry T. Cook Award for Most Tripped-Out Logo:

In the Best Use of Redundancy category, our winner is:

For Best Example of Self-Serving Guilt-Manipulation, we have a clear winner:

In the Shameless Racism category, the unanimous winner was:

And, our GRAND PRIZE WINNER, in the Love and Tolerance category is (wait for it!) ...

Congratulations to all our winners. See you again next year!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Might Be an Anglican News Junkie If ...

You might be an Anglican news junkie if ...

You're currently using an Anglican Mainstream mouse pad.

You know ++Peter Akinola's middle name.

Your screensaver is a photo of Archbishop Gregory Venables.

You have more than 50 posts at StandFirm.

People at work refer to you as that crazy Anglican guy/lady.

You click "Refresh" on the Anglican Curmudgeon's blog page more than 10 times per day.

You know the first and last names of Gene Robinson's "husband."

You are wearing an I Like Iker button.

There is a KJS --> English dictionary on your desk.

You can name at least 3 Anglican Instruments of Unity. Just kidding; there are no Instruments of Unity.

You have a TEC Diocese Countdown Calendar on your wall, which reads: Today's TEC Diocese Count = 111 110 109 ...

You wear a Hot Rod Anglican T-shirt!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Legal Matter (TEC Remix)

To: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori

Cc: David Booth Beers, Esquire

Bcc: The Most Reverend Gregory Venables

Subject: A Legal Matter

The lyrics may be found here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Biblical Literacy and The Episcopal Church

An internet acquaintance (who tends to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me) was writing to me to agree with something I'd written. But she capped her comments off with the following statement:

Honestly, people act like children about all this. So what if your dude doesn't get elected? You accept it and move on with your life. Wallowing in self pity and refusing to acknowledge that Christ does indeed live in every person is kind of a crappy way to live, in my opinion.

To be honest, the part about Christ living in every person (emphasis hers), made my jaw drop. This is a 20-something young woman, a committed Episcopalian, who is pursuing a path that will lead to Ordination.

I was at a loss, for a moment to explain to her why I do not believe that Christ dwells in all people. I felt exactly like the person (described by G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy) who is asked to tell why he prefers civilisation to savagery. The fact that everything in the New Testament points to the fact that some have Christ living in them, and some do not ... actually acts as an impediment to explaining the thing to someone who feels otherwise.

I began by quoting Romans 8:9 to her:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

How does one go to church every Sunday, read one's Bible, and not know this? It was not only that she disagreed (and continued to assert that Christ dwells in all people), but that her subsequent repsonses gave me to believe that she had never heard my interpretation espoused before by anyone. That was what is truly amazing to me.

I have know for a long time, at least since I taught Sunday School in an Episcopal parish, that Episcopalians have done an abysmal job of teaching people the Bible. But still, this floored me. Here is a young woman, who (unless God mercifully intervenes) will eventually be a priest(ess) in The Episcopal Church, and she does not understand something so fundamental as this!

Some obvious questions are begged. If Christ already lives in all people:

(1) What can possibly be meant by the concepts of conversion to Christ, regeneration, etc.

(2) What of those who explicitly renounce Christ, and do not want Christ in them? Does He indwell them anyhow, against their wills, as if it were akin to demonic possession?

(3) What need is there to preach the Gospel? Will not the indwelling Christ already instruct each and every soul?

Perhaps I am onto something there, because of course TEC does not really preach the Gospel in most places. It's Good News is the gospel of Social Justice, which at its best is a ministry of charity to people's earthly needs, and at worst is a force for Leftist political action.

How did this young woman come to the conclusion about Christ in all people? Was it a homily she heard on St. Matthew 25:45 (He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.')? If so, the preacher must have skipped the entire context of Matthew 25, which is one of the most stark verbal portraits in the entire Bible of the great divide between those in whom Christ dwells (the sheep, at His right hand) and those in whom Christ does not dwell (the goats, at His left).

One of the things that I am most grateful to God for is that I was brought up in a church where reading the entire Bible oneself was strongly urged. From the evidence of my young friend's testimony, it does not appear to be sufficient to get one's Bible teaching a verse or two at a time, according to the Lectionary, as interpreted by the Rector.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Making it Hard on Satirists ...

TEc Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori had this to say about the Diocese of Pittsburgh wising up and leaving the rotten corpse that is The Episcopal church today:

"I believe that the vast majority of Episcopalians and Anglicans will be intensely grieved by the actions of individuals who thought it necessary to remove them from The Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after the vote.

Yes, and I believed the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series this year ...

You see, when she says goofy stuff like this ... it makes it really hard on anyone trying to satirize TEc. Thanks for the LOLs, Katharine!

But with your absurd reality outstripping my satire on a daily basis ... you're putting me out of business here!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Orthodox Anglican Identity - Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson

The Ph.D. Thesis of my very smart brother (well, one of two very smart brothers; they are twins), the Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson (a.k.a., Zolton, Diocese of Fort Worth) is now available to be downloaded from the St. Andrew's Parish website.

You can read the full "teaser" on it here.

In his doctoral dissertation, Orthodox Anglican Identity, the Rev. Dr. Charles Erlandson examines this orthodox Anglican identity in terms of the complex identity that consists of structural, normative, stylistic, and historical definitions. Structurally, he argues, orthodox Anglicans desire to live together in a clear and authoritative communion life but are likely to produce a messy and ambiguous structural identity. Normatively, orthodox Anglicans desire to assert a relatively clear and strong identity by turning to the Bible, the Prayer Book, and the Articles but that many orthodox Anglicans will be unwilling to submit to the Prayer Book or Articles in any meaningful way, and important differences in the interpretation of Scripture will still exist. Stylistically, orthodox Anglicans are seeking a unity in comprehension of diverse spiritualities but practically speaking the comprehension required is so great that a clear and coherent orthodox Anglican identity will be difficult to maintain.

Erlandson concludes that while orthodox Anglicans are articulating a clear and coherent identity, they are likely to find themselves living in a historical reality that is also messy, diverse, and not as clearly Anglican as is commonly assumed, a reality he calls “Post-Anglican” Anglicanism."

There is a charge of $10 to download the PDF file (which is 322 pages, including End Notes). If any reader is sincerely interested in having a copy, but the $10 is an impediment, please contact me, and I will see what I can do to get you a copy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Metabo Grinder ... Higher Power?

Once, after I had finished confessing an episode of drunkenness to a priest, he gave me some background on AA. (Wait ... is the person Confessing bound by an oath of secrecy, or only the priest?) Anyhow, he mentioned that in Step 2 of the 12 steps you admit the existence of a higher power. Of course, the priest and I had already admitted the existence of this Higher Power, in the Triune God. But, he mentioned one case in which the only "higher power" that one of the "friends of Bill W" could think of was the air-conditioner in his full-size Buick. Apparently, this man lived in some intemperate region, such as Arizona, and his Buick's air-conditioner was the one thing in his earthly existence which had never let him down. As the priest's story went, the man eventually graduated from belief in his car's air-conditioner to full-fledged belief in God.

I was thinking, the other day as I worked on Eliot's car: If I were an atheist, what would my higher power be? I decided that it would be my Metabo grinder:

I have put this grinder through all sorts of hell for the past 10 years, and it has never missed a beat. Last weekend, I was using it to cut and grind on the shock towers of Eliot's Meteor, and I had it running almost continuously for several hours.

In fact, when it started to get hot ... I stopped and gave it a rest ... not because I thought it might not be up to the task ... but, because I had pity on an old and faithful friend!