This blog is in hibernation.

I’m not sure if it’ll be back, or even if it’ll be in a blog format. I’ve had some other things on my mind and in my life lately.

But I was dragged back here because I’ve been getting a rash of apparently inebriated people at godawful hours of the morning feeling the need to comment on years-old posts and discuss my upbringing, my sexuality, and the fact their significant others have left them…

I don’t care. I’m not your momma or your therapist.

So, you know… all commenting on old posts is now closed.

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On The Usefulness of Tracts

No one has ever been converted by litter.

And yes, if you’re sticking tracts all over a bus stop and not waiting around to pounce on someone when they pick it up to explain God’s Four Points of Salvation, you’re not evangelizing, you’re littering.

Please note that Paul did not bother sending out his letters to complete strangers. He was sending them to churches where he’d preached and taught for a while to strengthen the faith he’d personally told them about.

Face to face.

Possibly over a beverage or snacky foods of some kind.

(And if you see me picking up a religious tract you left on the bus seat and chucking it in the recycling bin, don’t holler at me from across the street like I just kicked your puppy. I’m keeping Portland beautiful.)

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Something to Contemplate in the Holiday Season

I came across this article a few months ago on the excellent Experimental Theology blog. It was published back in 2007, but it’s one of those things that is relevant at the beginning of every liturgical year.

In Praise of Christmas Shopping:

Excerpt-y!

Thus, before we denounce the commercialization of Christmas, let’s pause to note that all those shoppers are SHOPPING FOR SOMEONE ELSE! And that is a very deep spiritual realization. All those shoppers are not thinking of themselves, they are thinking of someone else. When during the year do we spend this much time thinking about the needs and wants of the people in our lives?

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Overheard on the Train

Riding in to work on the train today before sunrise, I could not help but overhear a conversation the two women directly behind me were having.

It started out with the flat statement, “My father-in-law is in the hospital with stage 4 cancer.”

Being the person that I am, I immediately started silently praying for this person and their family. I work for a hospital in a non-clinical role, and I sometimes feel like my job is really tangental to the patient care aspect, but one thing I have done is taken to praying on those rare occasions I do see patient identifying information.

Silently, and quietly, and never writing it down or telling others what I’m doing or whom it was. Because I take HIPAA seriously.

The woman, oblivious to what was going on in the seat before her, continued to discuss the situation with her friend. From what I was hearing, and my tangental connection to patient care, I heard her discuss the way the doctors were handling the case which sounded to me like the traditional treatment of stage 4 cancer, but she was complaining that, because he wasn’t getting better, this was a sign that the doctors didn’t care.

She then brought up other situations where her family members had been in hospital and things that had happened to show that the doctors just don’t care.

Doctors are doctors. I can’t do anything about doctors. I can’t make them sit down and describe to every relative of every patient exactly what they are doing, and why they chose that course of treatment. Especially if the relative is not the primary caregiver or legally approved medical decision maker. HIPAA again.

Her friend, in an attempt at comfort, told her, “Hospitals just don’t care.”

Doctors are doctors. I can’t do anything about doctors. Or nurses, or CNAs, or administrators, or management. But by God and all the saints above, *I* care.

I wanted to turn around in my seat and demand recognition for my work. I wanted to explain to these women the nature of the healthcare system. I wanted to explain to them how absolutely dumb they were for expecting one magic pill to cure all ills. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them until they acknowledged they were wrong and I was right, until they acknowledged my anger and frustration at a system I am embedded in, a slow moving behemoth with tendrils in every life for better or for worse, was just as valid as theirs.

The train trundled across the Steel Bridge, and I looked at the pink ribbons of clouds reflected in the windows of the downtown skyscrapers. I said a prayer for those who were angry and frustrated, whether they were on the patient’s side or the hospital’s side or somewhere in between.

When my work email booted up, I saw an automated note from the HR people, autosigned by the President of the hospital, thanking me for five years of service.

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I’m Special!

One of my hobbies is reading about New and Emerging Religious Movements (NRMs).

That’s the academic term for what the media calls ‘cults’. Not all NRMs are cultish, but all cults are NRMs until they’ve been around a couple centuries.

I’m utterly fascinated by them, which I think stems partially from growing up in an area with a high percentage of Mormons and being told I was excluded from their Temple. Unless I went through all the work to get a recommend.

But if you tell me there’s secrets, I want to know them. So when I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the library’s religion section. And now that I’m older, I… still spend a lot of time in the library’s religion section. But I also use this handy device called ‘The Internet’, and I’ve satisfied my curiosity as to what happens during the LDS Temple ceremonies.

One common thread of NRMs is that knowing the secret knowledge of the group makes you special. This is a part of NRMs because it’s also been a part of pretty much every religion in the history of ever, and hey, you gotta go with proven marketing strategies. Even us Christians used to spend three years in study before being initiated into the Church through the mystery of baptism.

Now it’s a six month class. Well, at my shack, anyway.

This idea in religions of all shapes, sizes, and ages, leads to the inevitable divisions of people into groups. We know the secrets. We know the truth. We are the special ones. Those who don’t know the secrets are different.

Us vs. Them.

And we are humans. We like feeling special. We like finding out secrets. We like our black and white answers– you’re in, he’s out, we’re right, they’re wrong.

The problem with Christianity is that when you get to the heart of the faith, the secret that lies there is that yes! You are a special, amazing, wonderful, beloved child of God!

And so is everyone else.

Even– and especially!– those who are not like you. Those who do not know this secret. Those who know the secret but don’t act like it.

Those who hate you.
Those whom you hate.

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Oh, hi there.

Been a while. I kind of took an unannounced break because, well, Life Happened.

Anyway, if there’s anyone still out there, I’d like to ask y’all keep me and the rest of the folks in my catechumen class in your prayers. We’ve got a couple adult baptisms, a handful of confirmations, one or two receptions, and me and a couple other folks are renewing our baptismal vows in front of God and the bishop and everybody.

Technically, I should be one of those being received since I’ve got this tendency to run and hide when there’s a bishop around. In discussing it with the group it was decided that since I’ve been rolling with the Episcopal Church for eight years, 3 as a Vestry member and now 1 as a delegate to Diocesan Convention, I’m in common-law fellowship with the Communion.

So on Pentecost the Bishop’s going to put his hands on my head and pray that the good work begun in me continues.

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….Oh, for the flamboyant love of God!

That’s what slipped out of my mouth in a fit of frustration earlier today. My brain likes to invent new statements like this at times. Yesterday and for the week and a half prior, it was “Flaming boogers!”

Now, apparently, it’s the flamboyant love of God.

My twisty little brain sent me scurrying off to the dictionary to see what exactly I was calling up when I called for the flamboyant love of God. TheFreeDictionary informed me that flamboyant can mean:

1. Highly elaborate; ornate.
2. Richly colored; resplendent.
3. Architecture Of, relating to, or having wavy lines and flamelike forms characteristic of 15th- and 16th-century French Gothic architecture.
4. Given to ostentatious or audacious display.

Hm. Let’s try it out.

The highly elaborate love of God.
The resplendent love of God.
The ostentatious and audacious display that is the love of God.
The flamboyant love of God.

I like it.

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