I'll be gone for a week. I'll have internet access, but may not blog much. You know, sort of like real life, with too much to do to have spare time for blogging (much like the last four days,t o be honest). Well, hopefully. Fortunately, you all have stuff to do this coming week, I'm sure.
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of you out there for your love, prayers and support. You cannot imagine how important they have been to me the past few months. I realize I am very fortunate to have great friends here where I live and work and great friends far and wide across the globe.
In the immortal words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other".
Over on Thinking Anglicans, there have been a few reports from
the Chicago Consultation, a gathering of some 50 “church leaders” who “urged
leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-sex
relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being
elected as bishops”.
In the comments on a second article, I made the comment:
theology from the liberal side is still sorely lacking, even four years after
Gene Robinson's consecration (and eight years since he was first a candidate
for the episcopate.)
This would be
(and should be) one of the truly legitimate criticisms the conservatives could
make, if only they weren't so concerned with their petty power games.”
There is no doubt that with the election and consecration of Gene Robinson,
the Episcopal Church had the theological cart before the horse. And it’s not that
this should have come as a big shock. After all, Robinson had been a finalist
for at least one other episcopate (Rochester, in 1999). Why, after such a clear
indication that his election to an episcopate somewhere became likely, was
there no work done by proponents of the ordination of gays to the episcopate?
All we got was the typical wishy-washy double speak of then Presiding Bishop
Frank Griswold (who, sadly, is now looking a communications giant in comparison
with Rowan Williams).
Griswold had this to say in October 2004 in the wake of the release of the
least the last 30 years our church has been listening to the experience and
reflecting upon the witness of homosexual persons in our congregations.
There are those among us who perceive the fruit of the Spirit deeply present in
the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, both within the church and in their
relationships. However, other equally faithful persons among us regard same
gender relationships as contrary to scripture. "
To summarize, the theology contained in that statement is: “…”
We then move on to January 2005. In a statement released after the meeting
of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, January 12 – 13, 2005 in Salt
Lake City, Griswold had this to say:
"The Presiding Bishop has already
established a committee to offer a theological explanation of how "a
person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the
flock of Christ" (Windsor Report, paragraph 135)."
So almost two years after Robinson’s election, Griswold and the HoB figured
they ought to work on some theological justification. Brilliant! And what has
come of it so far? Absolutely nothing.
In the TA discussion Erika Baker pointed out that there is “good gay
"Having said that, there is very good theology around, why do people keep
saying there isn't?"
implying that there isn't plenty of "gay theology" around, (see, for instance, An Acceptable Sacrifice?) but that
the leadership of TEC (at least the liberal wing) should have the guts to lay
out the particular gay theology they support.
Griswold, in the aftermath the Windsor Report, admitted that TEC had not made
the theological case and (supposedly) commissioned some work on the issue (see above). The
results so far:
blowing down main street...)
huge difference between "there's gay theology out there" to
"this is the particular gay theology TEC can stand behind".
Make no mistake; I am generally in favor of the full inclusion of everyone
in the church. However, I also see the path the leadership of the Episcopal Church
has taken as intellectually dishonest or intellectually lazy at best. Change doesn’t take place overnight, and somebody has to do the hard work of laying
the foundation for that change. So far, the Episcopal Church has attempted to skate by doing as little real work as possible.
Of course, the argument has shifted over the past couple of years. It's now clear that the conservative objections run much deeper than Gene Robinson and the gay issue. Women's ordination and the updating of the prayer book in the US have resurfaced as issues that never really went away, precipitated in large part by Katharine Jefferts-Schori's election to Presiding Bishop. In many ways, it's good to have that out on the table, and it broadens the argument to "how do we interpret scripture" rather than dancing around nuances of seven passages in the Bible.
That is a question that has also been left begging by TEC for the most part.
Also make no mistake; the conservative side has behaved abysmally, both in
terms of tactics and behavior. While the liberals may have been lazy, the
conservative leadership have shown themselves to be spiteful and nasty – in some
cases downright evil. Their behavior has hardly been much of an advertisement
for the church. In many cases they have made the likes of Pat Robertson and
Jerry Falwell look like Mother Theresa by comparison.
Episcopal News Service reports that plans are already underway to provide for a continuing presence of the real Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin.
The Rev. Robert Moore will meet with the group as well. Presiding
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appointed Moore "to provide an ongoing
pastoral presence to the continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of San
Joaquin," said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding
Moore is the husband of Bishop Suffragan Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera of
Olympia, the daughter of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield's
predecessor, Bishop Victor Rivera.
Regular readers here will know that I live in the Diocese of Olympia and am a huge fan of Bishop Nedi Rivera. Perhaps less well known is that I am an equally big fan of the Rev. Bob Moore. He's a fabulous guy, and I am so glad he is able to provide a pastoral presence in the midst of this turmoil. My prayers go out to Bob and all the faithful Episcopalians in that diocese.
Update - from the faithful Episcopalians in San Joaquin:
From Remain Episcopal:
Those of us who remain Episcopal within the Diocese of San Joaquin extend our thanks and appreciation for the overwhelming expression of love and support that we have received from faithful Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We are committed to the very challenging tasks that we are now faced with, including but not limited to, supporting and protecting the clergy that have stood with us, maintaining and growing the parishes that retain their Episcopal affiliation, providing support and leadership to those who are in the minority in their current parishes, informing and gathering those who have left over the years in response to words and actions they found oppressive and marginalizing. To those within our diocese who have not felt represented by Remain Episcopal but have a desire to remain loyal to The Episcopal Church, please know that we do not exclude those who may feel their opinions and beliefs differ from ours. Contact us so we can better understand all perspectives and go forward representing all. ( reach us at email@example.com )
Many of you have asked how you can help. Please continue to pray for the Diocese of San Joaquin. We are all mourning some level of loss regardless of our affiliation. We are in need of comfort, strength, discernment, and wisdom as we go forward in love and service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The tasks that face us will require considerable financial support. We need to get the word out that The Episcopal Church is still present in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Bulk mailings and print ads for media in 14 counties are costly. We would appreciate any donations. We are a 501(c)(3) organization so your donations are tax deductible. Please mail them to:
Remain Episcopal 2067 W. Alluvial Fresno, CA 93711
As the soon-to-be-former Episcopal bishop of the once-Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin leads his flock to the Southern Cone (or such elements as may choose to join him), I was amused by the exchange between Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori and former Bishop Schofield. In response to a letter from Jefferts-Schori, Schofield writes back (addressed merely to "Bishop Schori" - a not so subtle slap in the face of the kind he and his ilk are very good at.)
I have read your letter of December 3, 2007 and thank you for your
prayers. There is a pastoral tone to this letter which is much
appreciated. Informing me that you are not writing with any threats is
most encouraging also. One would hope that this indicates your serious
consideration of the Primates’ specific request that deposition and
litigation under the present circumstances be abandoned as unacceptable
behavior among Christians.
So he invokes the "Christians shouldn't sue Christians" doctrine. Well, I have an even better doctrine for him to ponder. it comes from that book where Moses leads the people out of somewhere and gets these ten, um, suggestion thingies, written on stone tablets. I believe these ten "strong suggestion" thingies are very popular with a lot of Christians, and usually moreso with the really hard line conservatives such as, say, Bishop Schofield. There's one in there, I'm pretty sure, about not taking what doesn't belong to you. I think it goes along along the lines of "thou shalt not steal". And trying to rewrite the laws as you rob the bank doesn't really count now, does it?
Yeah, maybe someone could look it up and send him the reference.
I've been contemplating moving furniture around to make the master suite a combined bedroom/study/music room and I got a fair way towards it the last few days when I moved the bed into the smaller room of the master suite and then followed it up today by moving a lot of shelves and my computer desk into the gig room of the master suite. Long way to go yet, but the destruction is mostly done - from here it's mostly reconstruction. Here's the computer workstation so far (and yes, IKEA is heavily involved in the shelving side of things...)
What I will end up with is two guest rooms (and really three with the some minor tidying up in the bonus room). It's also a chance to shed some of the stuff that I've been meaning to get rid of (VHS tape movies that I have the DVD of now, some old baseball books etc.)
Over the past few weeks several hundred different people must have asked me, "How are you doing?"
My stock response is usually something like "OK, in the circumstances."
Several people close to me with counseling skills (so they have some skilled basis for the observation) tell me I'm doing very well. It certainly seems that way to me too, but I don't really have much to back it up. The other day, while through all the books and pamphlets on grieving that I got from Lifecenter, I got a sense of what grieving well looks like, based on an aggregate sense of what I was reading from this variety of sources. I was talking to my doctor yesterday and we got talking about how I'm doing beyond the physical ailment I came in to see him about. So I gave him the stock answer, and he forced me to elaborate a little. I did, and was able to satisfy him that I am doing well. Based on that conversation, and from my reading, I came up with the following checklist.
Are you taking care of yourself physically?
Are you keeping up with personal hygiene?
Showering, shaving, wearing clean clothes are all important to a feeling of well-being and personal value.
Are you able to cope without resorting to increased alcohol consumption or resorting to drugs (illegal or abusing prescription drugs)
Obviously a huge issue, and one where friends can be helpful in keeping an eye on you.
Are you keeping up with chores – laundry, dishes,. keeping the house tidy?
Nobody expects you to be Mr. Clean, but staying on top of things is important.
Do you have an idea what you want to do with the deceased’s belongings (clothes, jewelry, hobby materials)?
Getting rid of everything right away is unhealthy, as is the opposite – keeping absolutely everything. Take your time to decide what to do. A good option is decide what you absolutely want to keep, and allow the rest to go to family and friends if they want something, and send the rest to charity.
Are you taking care of yourself emotionally?
Are you able to cry when you feel like it?
It’s good and healthy to cry when you need to.
Can you talk about the deceased, mention his/her name, tell stories?
Saying the deceased’s name out loud, in stories and reminiscences is healthy. It’s not unusual to have a problem with this for a short while, but if it persists then denial may be at unhealthy levels.
Do you have at least a couple of good friends you can rely on to just listen when you need to talk?
Related to the above question, it really helps to have a safe place to tell those stories or talk about what’s going on inside you. Some people don’t know what to say, but good friends won’t worry that they don’t have the right words, they will just be there for you.
Have you seen a professional counselor?
This one isn’t vital, but it never hurts to have somebody who is paid to listen and who will have an unbiased professional view of how you are doing.
Are you able to go back to work and be productive?
When is the right time to go back to work?
There’s a fine line between going back too soon and too late. Too soon and you might be overwhelmed with how work life just rolls on as if nothing happened. Too late and you might never reintegrate back into work life – too much might have changed.
How supportive is your boss?
Bosses these days are usually sensitive to the needs of their employees (at least in larger companies with professional HR staff) in this situation and will generally allow you whatever time you need.
How supportive are your co-workers?
Supportive bosses and co-workers can make a huge difference. If you have even a few co-workers who are not afraid to let you talk about your loved one, and genuinely care about how you are doing, then you have good support. There will be co-workers who are uncomfortable around you, and who are afraid for the topic to come up and may avoid you as much as possible. Don’t worry about it, and don’t judge them for it – it’s probably the most common reaction. Instead, focus on those who are supportive and use them to help you through tough days (but don’t abuse the privilege.)
This is kind of a work in progress, and I sort of drifted from asking questions to providing advice, so I would be grateful if any of you have things to add or suggestions for changes. I'll work on editing it myself, too.
And my own response to the questions above is almost universally positive. And I am particularly blessed that in those categories that require supportive friends and co-wokers, I have an abundance.
I'm finally getting around to reading some of the material on grief and grieving sent by Lifecenter. One of the books is a slim tome entitled A Handbook for Widowers. I intended to skim it, but ended up reading all of it in about half an hour. I didn't agree with the critical tone of the one (two star) review on Amazon, so I just added my own, and I'll post it here too:
This is not an in-depth treatise on grief for widowers, so the title may be a bit misleading. It's not a step by step guide with multiple options for how to deal with your grief. What it is is one man's account of how he dealt with the loss of his wife, sprinkled with mostly helpful suggestions.
Ames writes about the things he did poorly and the things he did well and invites his readers to avoid the mistakes he feels he made. Some sections are eminently practical and will no doubt help some men who just didn't see one thing or the other coming. The section on what to do with one's wife's belongings is especially useful, I think.
I think one of the biggest positives in the book is that Ames points ultimately to hope and the future. One of the positive things he mentions about being single (and yes, he is looking for the ray of hope amidst so much gloom and darkness) is this:
"If I did not before, I now know how precious life is; I must not forget that.I am more mindful, more aware of everything in my life - persons, things, actions, impulses. Now, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now, in this moment."
Another thought I liked:
"One of the perils of grief is that it is so self-centered. An integral segment of your personal history has been wrenched from you, and you need time to allow the wound to heal. No one can predict the length of time your grief should take, but after a time, you need to get out of yourself and rejoin the world outside."