Saturday, July 27, 2013

Book 8 of 2013: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

"Friends, rebels, starfighters...."  "Once more into the trench dear friends..."

Now admit it, who could resist a book with a title like that?!?  Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (or, as most of us originally came to know and love it, Star Wars) as a Shakespearean play.  I mean it just cries out to be read!

It was a chance find, the sort one sometimes happens upon when browsing.  And I needed at least one light "nothing" book to read while on vacation.  So I bought this one.  It works out to about an average length Shakespearean play, according to the afterword and is a delightful way to spend part of a day (if you enjoy iambic pentameter and the Star Wars universe that is, so there may be a bit of a limited target audience).  And, as the author says there is in fact some academic/philosophical/theoretical rationale to the project.

One who knows the works of Shakespeare would likely find passages (like the two cited above) that echo specific scenes and passages.  And because of the Shakespearean structure we have monologues!  We see inside Luke and Han and Vader and Kenobi--and also C3PO and R2D2, we hear their thougths and feelings.

Btu lets be honest, I didn't get it for any academic value (which it does have).  I got it because it looked like fun--and indeed it was.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Book 7 of 2013 -- The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church

For a while I contemplated going back to school to do a D.Min.  I have since realized that I have not the time nor the money to do that (nor, apparently, the burning desire).  But if I did it was with the intent to do focused work of Social Media and the church, well computerization and the church generally but a specific focus on Social Media.  Why?  Because I think that topic area is one of the growing edges for the church both in understanding and utilization.  While I have pretty much laid aside the D.Min idea it may become a Sabbatical topic in a couple of years (I am eligible for a sabbatical in 2015 but likely wouldn't take it until 2016 due to the fact that I will be Presbytery chair in 2015--and that is NOT a sabbatical task).

So when I first heard about this book I knew I was going to buy it eventually.  Eventually happened to be this summer.

This book is a good start on the topic.  A very good start in fact but still only a start.  And I strongly suspect the author would agree with that statement.  Social media is such a new topic and much of the church is still getting its feet wet in it that a start is all we can have at present.

But this is also a book that church leaders (lay and ordered, local parish/pastoral charge and judicatory) need to read as we make decisions on how we will be the church in a world where social media is the norm.  It is a book I will need to go back to and review again in bits and pieces.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letter to the Editor

To all those running in this fall's municipal elections:

I have some requests.

First, please read, re-read, and commit to memory Fred Rinne's column in this newspaper from July 11. It is not often that I read an opinion column in this paper and agree with everything it says. But this time Fred was right on the money.

Second, while certainly name recognition is an important part of an election process, please avoid the temptation to plaster your signs all over the city. In my opinion this is not only unsightly but is a waste of your money. If you have a lot of signs, convince private landowners to let you put them up. That tells me a lot more than seeing a whole line of them cluttering public property. And if you do put them up, please monitor their condition and clean them up when they become torn or broken.

Third, and most important in my mind, is tell us your vision for the city. I don't want to hear about taxes or snow removal or how to deal with the Park hotel (which needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later). After all you all the councillors and the mayor each have only one vote. None of you can make something happen by yourselves. But I am a person who believes strongly in the need for vision. Tell me your dreams about what Grande Prairie could be in its second century. And if you can convince enough of us to share that dream then that tells me you can also share your vision, your dream with the rest of the folks around the council table.

Certainly decisions get made about details, but the details need to be in support of a vision. Show us your vision, tell us why your vision is the one we should support into the next 4 years.

Monday, July 08, 2013

25 Years, Where are we now?

Last week a colleague of mine in the US wrote this post.  And in reading it I was reminded that 25 years ago this summer the 32nd General Council meeting of the United Church of Canada dealt with what many in the church now simply refer to as "the issue". 

More specifically, the Council voted to receive and adopt a report titled Ministry Membership and Human Sexuality (MMHS for short), which stated that sexual orientation was irrelevant where full membership in the United Church was concerned -- and with full membership comes the right to be considered for membership in the Order of Ministry.

And then all hell broke loose.

By the time of the next meeting of General Council in 1990 hundreds of petitions had been written calling on the church to reconsider this decision.  The grounds of opposition were based on tradition and on interpretations of Scripture.  (As it happens one of the results of this process was a church-wide study on the Authority and Interpretation of Scripture as the debate leading up to and following from MMHS had amply proven that there were a variety of approaches to Scripture in the UCCan -- though really we knew that already).  The church of my childhood and the church where I am currently in ministry were among those who expressed their disagreement [although it was not well publicized in my childhood congregation that this was being done by the Board.  People were sent to the meeting with strict instructions to "fix" the horrible mistake that had been made.  Congregations were threatening to leave the UCCan (and sue so they could take their buildings and property with them), some congregations had a mass exodus of members [and some people came to the church precisely because of MMHS], there was a fear that the church would be split asunder over the issue.  A vocal protest movement from the "conservative" side of the church sprung up calling itself the National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations (NACC).

And where are we now?

In 1992 one of the issues that was discussed at General Council was same-gender marriage.  But there was no great appetite for carrying that issue forward at that point in time.  However by a decade later there were folk in the UCCan who were loudly calling for both church and state to recognize such unions.  There were [and are] also UCCan folk loudly objecting to such unions.  Because of the way our polity works, each congregation needs to make their own decision on that issue.  Nationally the UCCan made statements urging the federal government to change the law, but each congregation decides what weddings happen in their midst.

So where are we now?

We are still somewhat split on this issue of human sexuality (meaning not only orientation but also abortion and sexual activity outside of legal marriage).  But there have been changes.

The NACC has largely gone away as a force.  There are still congregations who were members and whose congregational theology has not truly changed.  I know of one who in their Joint Needs Assessment report proclaimed proudly their traditional marriage policy and then a couple pages later said there was no reason that any clergy, regardless of orientation, would not feel welcome in their midst -- and were totally unaware of how these were mutually exclusive statements (I did not apply to that place).  But there is not the same level of antagonism.  And some churches have made a complete turn around.  There are congregations that protested in 1989 where now "the issue" is no longer an issue but have now called married gay clergy.

But there is still work to do.  Gay and lesbian clergy still (last I heard) have more chance of having trouble getting a call, particularly in certain areas of the country.  There are still people who do not want to touch these discussions with a ten foot pole for fear of reawakening old arguments.  I remember when my last pastoral charge was reviewing marriage policy and I asked if they wanted to discuss same-gender marriage -- the answer was that they were not sure the congregation was ready (the congregation WAS ready, and it would not have been an issue in my opinion) largely because there was a memory of how people had reacted in 1988-89.

So there is still work to do.  There are still conversations to be had.  And given that hetero-sexism is still rampant in our society as a whole (and plausibly in many of our pews) in both open and hidden forms we who believe that God calls all people good need to push for the conversations to happen.  If our beliefs mean anything they need to be lived out.  It has always been tempting to let people for whom the question is more pressing take the lead.  Or try to not talk about it until we have no choice.  And to be honest I believe that has been how the church has approached many issues (race, human sexuality, interfaith dialogue) over the generations.  And that is not enough. 

May we have the courage as a church to admit that the questions are not all behind us.  May we have the wisdom to see that we are not in the same place we were 25 years ago.  And may we have the faith to hear God calling us to name what we believe openly.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Book 6 of 2013 -- Speaking Christian

I first saw this book in a book display at a Presbytery meeting.  And thinking of all the times over the years I had said that there were words we needed to reclaim as part of our heritage and identity I was intrigued.  But I had a good number of books waiting to be read and so I did not buy it at that time.  But one day this year I was browsing through the Kobo list and saw that it was available as an e-book and decided it was time to grab it.

For those of us who have read Borg's other work, the theological bias in this book will hardly be a surprise.  (And I would suggest that for those of us who continue to read Borg's work the bias is one we more or less share).  What I like is that Borg encourages us to look beyond the assumed meaning of the words/terms and ask what else they could have meant to the communion of saints.

I think this book would be an excellent discussion starter in a Christian Education/Christian Development/Discipleship program.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

RevGal Carnival -- Galship

Teri laid out this challenge over at RevGalBlogPals:
This week's blog carnival topic is: What does Galship mean to you? The phrase was originally coined to refer to RevGal Fellowship--all the ways we build community, share our lives, support each other, and have fun. So blog about Galship--have you had an experience of galship in person or online? Has galshipping changed your life or ministry? what's your favorite part of our galship? Or whatever way you understand the question--there are no wrong answers! What does Galship mean to you? Ready, set, write!

And well here is my response.....

As it happens this is a fitting time for this post.  Because my 8th Blogiversary is this coming Friday, and my link to the RevGals goes back pretty much the entire time I have been blogging.

One of the reasons I started blogging was reading the blog of my friend and colleague at Inner Dorothy.  And through her blog I followed a few links to "meet" folks named Songbird  or Will Smama at Preacher, Blogger, Procrastinator (admittedly that one I grabbed to read because I am an unrepentant procrastinator) or St. Casserole or purechristianithink or the Peripatetic Polar Bear or NotShyChiRev and many many others.  I watched as some of these people formed a group that called themselves the RevGalBlogPals.  I was intrigued but as an onlooker as I saw it a group primarily for the "Gal" part of the title.

Then in this post from late September 2005 (when RGBP was just over 2 months old) I was invited to join the ring [mind you now that I re-read the invitation there was a bit of an instructional tone to the invitation).  Which I did.

I remember the first book, ordering it, ordering extra copies for some people in my congregation, getting even more extra copies because the printer screwed up the cover in the first run.  Then I remember the second, BIG book (Ordinary Time is a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG season) in which I took part.  I read about the various Big Events and other blogger meet-ups with a touch of jealousy, because I knew the chance of my being able to make those travels was pretty small.  Mind you, I am strongly thinking of going to the Festival of Homiletics next year so maybe a meet-up with some of these virtual friends will in fact happen....

One of the grand debates in the world of on-line communities is if they are true communities.  It is my experience as a member of the RGBP community that they are.  There are times when (in blog posts or in the RGBP FB group) the community supports each other, rants together, celebrates together.  When I shared concerns about early birth as we went through the last month of our third pregnancy there were prayers abounding from the community.  And when we we got back home after her birth I found this post and this post as the community celebrated with us.

Over the years I have enjoyed being a member of RGBP.  Yes there are lots of blogs in the ring now I have not read.  But there are the ones I happen upon in reading the posts at the home blog and check out.  And for the last year or so I have even been a contributor.  An easy task (as long as I remember what month it is) to write a weekly post for the Tuesday Lectionary Leanings each month.

One last note.  For the Friday 5 meme when the blogring was a year old we were invited to reflect on the community.  Here is what I wrote then. I still stand by all of it.

PS: this post took an incredibly long time to write given its length and content.  Why?  Because I got lost in reading old posts.  Always a dangerous thing.  But I was downright well written in those early months and years.  Now I hardly blog at all....

Monday, July 01, 2013