Several people have noted the passing of Swedish bishop and New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl. Not being terribly knowledgeable about Sweden (nor, in terms of global academic standing, the New Testament) I was unaware of the influence of Stendahl until this point. Maggi Dawn linked to an essay of Stendahl's on "Why I Love the Bible", which I found both entertaining and fascinating.
Stendahl defined his love of the Bible in five negatives, thus:
It is not primarily about me.
It is not
always as deep as we think.
Even Paul isn't always totally sure.
Don't be so uptight.
It is probably not as universal as we think.
Apparently, Stendahl was pivotal in redefining Pauline studies, and I have to think that anyone that can point out that Paul wasn't always sure must have had a rough ride somewhere along the way. In particular, his expansion on why "the Bible isn't primarily about me" is an incredibly valuable piece of work. Although I never even knew of him before, I miss him now.
Due to a hectic personal life the last few days, I haven't had much of a chance to compile and format my notes from the Presiding Bishop's visit with the youth of our diocese last week. But, finally, here it is!
The PB opened with a few remarks and questions for the youth. What I wrote down was this:
How does being connected all the time to your friends affect
You are asking the questions older generations may not be.
Creation/Environment – hold older generations feet to the
fire for what we have left you – you have the voice and technical ability to mobilize people
to do better things for the earth.
You live your life with your thumbs – what does that mean?
Interesting questions or points to think about, at least.
And so on to the Q&A (sorry - I couldn't be bothered to expand the notes to real English):
Q: Music in church is old and tired – how do we get newer
A: U2 is not contemporary, it’s young boomer, older Gen X
generation, try something new for yourself. Diocese of California has song
writing workshops for youth
Q: How do we deal with homophobia in church? (specifically
disinvite of +VGR to Lambeth)
A: It’s the ABC’s party, and he can invite who he wants.
Handle it like racism and sexism, name it and learn about it – finding in
ourselves how we respond to those who are different
Q: How has her experience as Presiding Bishop been different
than for a male?
A: Don’t know – she’s never been a male PB… Women used to be
confined to altar guild and choir. Social constructs define “normal” roles –
need to get beyond that. Hillary Clinton running for president will be an
Q: The Emerging church is a way to look outside of box. How can we
make it real?
A: Not different from rest of church. Vibrant communities
emerge when you leadership with a broad vision.
Q: New generation – overscheduled – less than half youth at
services due to overscheduling (jobs, homework, sports, as well as leisure). Are
they getting what they need?
A: Challenge is converting a consumer and competitive
society – value comes from being a child of God, not how many things you attend
– must prioritize what is important.
It was interesting to listen to the Presiding Bishop. It's hard in this format to look brilliant, but she gave careful answers that asked the questioner to think about what they could do to help with their own issue - not to just wait around for someone else to do something, or solve their problem for them. All in all, I'm extremely glad she is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Since Sue and I moved into this house in July 2006, the back yard has remained a blank canvas. A blank, muddy, weedy canvas. Last August we had a landscape architect draw us up plans for the entire yard, but focusing a great deal on the back yard. Due to the circumstances of the past six months it has taken a while to get going, but the contractors have been here for a week and today the first major element of the back yard is almost in. The patio, made of Abbotsford Classic pavers in Indian Summer (picked out with the help of a friend), looks like this:
The deck in the lower left corner will be extended to meet the patio, and the work in the upper right is the start of a retaining wall that will allow for a raised planting bed.
Here's the view across the yard to the duck pond:
And here's the view of the back yard two years ago:
If you travel very much at all, you will find seatguru.com to be a very useful site. It has seating layouts for just about every airplane actually in service at every major airline, and shows which are good, which are bad, and why. Here, for example, is a British Airways four class Boeing 777:
Good seats are green, bad seats are red, but more importantly, as you mouse over the layout on the website you see detailed descriptions of the good and bad points of particular seats. Use it before you select seats for your next flight...
For anyone out there who plays music in a church setting, it's often necessary to play a song in a different key than it's recorded in. For those of us without an extensive musical background and perfect pitch, it can be very tough to figure things out. There are some tools out there that will transpose mp3 files, but here's a new version of the very affordable Transposer. It can change tempo and pitch independently of each other. Slow a song down, but keep the pitch intact to learn a solo, or find just the right key for your band... There's even a free trial version you can download.
...is what I'll be having on Wednesday evening. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori is in town for an environmental conference this weekend and is taking the opportunity to speak to and hear from the youth of the diocese. As a youth leader, I get to take some youth along.
I will miss the conference itself, as I will be speaking on Youth and Cursillo in San Jose at the weekend. I will, however, be flying back on Saturday night so I can be with my band at church when we play on Sunday morning when the Presiding Bishop preaches and celebrates the Eucharist at my church.
Quite the week, really. I promise to blog the heck out of the events :)
However, tonight it's tax returns (hopefully the money returns back to me...)
While I was otherwise occupied last week, the Dean of St Mark's Cathedral in Seattle resigned (hat tip Tim Mathis). It's been a long time coming, and somewhat inevitable. There's plenty of "blame" to go around, but to be honest, ten years is about as long a tenure as anyone can expect these days in a church appointment. St Mark's, like many cathedral congregations, is a bit of an oddity. Many members commute from a fair distance, so although the attendance and membership may look high, direct involvement by parishioners isn't particularly high. A case in point was a youth weekend where we needed to house almost a hundred teens, and St Mark's could barely handle half of that itself. Other churches had to pick up the slack. All of this makes St Mark's a difficult place to lead, and it seems it's time for a change.
It's also, in my experience and opinion, the ugliest cathedral in the world. It's basically a 1930's concrete blockhouse that is a blot on the Seattle skyline, and is ugly and dingy inside. Apart from that I guess it's OK.
Anyway, life at St Mark's will move on, and I applaud the Dean, the Very Rev. Robert Taylor, for moving on in classy fashion and wish him the very best as he figures out what to do next.