The Rev. Toby Brown has a post up on his blog bemoaning the diversity of beliefs in the PC(USA). A couple of sentences caught my eye [emphasis mine]:
And this is our intractable divide--one act, like Spahr's
performing of a 'marriage' for lesbians, is called good by one group
and sinful by another. Yet, we all reside within one tent, one
communion, one covenant community.
I read that and I don't think "Damn, that's awful," I read that and I think "Hallelujah, isn't that wonderful?!"
I've always thought that the whole point of the church was that it wasn't like other human institutions, that it was the place where we could be together even though we disagreed, even though we were 180 degrees apart on some things we could still worship together, sing together, and share in the sacraments together.
For me, that's a huge part of the Good News. God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed the way things have always been. Humans can do better than the have, can get along despite their differences, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is the place where that can happen.
It's a little thing I like to call "The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven on the world." The Kingdom is going to be filled with people who disagree with us (if for no other reason than requiring agreement to enter the Kingdom pretty much amounts to salvation by works) and we might as well get used to it now.
Picture courtesy of Athletic Media Relations, Central Washington University.
Apr 30, 2008 at 9:51 AM PDT
Apr 30, 2008 at 12:12 PM PDT
By Associated Press
Ore. (AP) - A senior with a .153 career batting average hits her first
home run, a three-run blast, to help Western Oregon move closer to a
spot in the NCAA's Division II softball playoffs.
That was improbable. To 70-year-old Central Washington coach Gary Frederick, what happened next was "unbelievable."
Sara Tucholsky, the 5-foot-2-inch right fielder, sprinted to first
as the ball cleared the center field fence Saturday in Ellensburg,
Wash. Given that she had never hit a ball out of the park, even in
practice, she was excited. So excited she missed first base.
A couple yards past the bag, she stopped to go back and touch it. But she collapsed with a knee injury.
"I was in a lot of pain," she told The Oregonian newspaper
on Tuesday. "Our first-base coach was telling me I had to crawl back to
first base. 'I can't touch you,' she said, 'or you'll be out. I can't
Despite the agony, Tucholsky crawled back to first.
Western Oregon coach Pam Knox ran onto the field and talked to the
umpires. The umpires said the coach could place a substitute runner at
first. Tucholsky would be credited with a single.
"The umpires said a player cannot be assisted by their team around
the bases," Knox said. "But it is her only home run in four years. She
is going to kill me if we sub and take it away. But at same time I was
concerned for her. I didn't know what to do."
An opponent did.
Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the all-time home
run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire
if she and her teammates could carry Tucholsky around the bases.
The umpires said nothing in the rule book precluded help from the opposition.
Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky and resumed the
home-run walk, stopping to let Tucholsky touch the bases with her good
"We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people."'
Holtman got her answer when they arrived at home plate. Many people were in tears.
The second-inning homer sent Western Oregon on its way to a 4-2
victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference
and advancing to the playoffs.
"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," Holtman
said. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in
pain and she deserved a home run."
Frederick, the Central Washington coach, said he later got a
clarification from an umpiring supervisor, who said NCAA rules allow a
substitute to run for a player who is injured after a home run.
The clarification doesn't matter to those who witnessed the act of sportsmanship.
"Those girls did something awesome to help me get my first home
run," Tucholsky said. "It makes you look at athletes in a different
way. It is not always all about winning but rather helping someone in a
situation like that."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
The guest preacher this morning was a big name in New Church Development. He spent his whole career planting new churches and helping them grow.
I'm thankful that there are people who are called to and gifted for that kind of ministry. I'm not one of them.
That I'm not one of those people is never clearer to me than when I hear one of them preach.
This morning's preacher concluded his sermon with the admonition, "remember, God didn't create the church for you, God created the church so that you could go out and bring other people to it." [emphasis mine]
That just doesn't work for me. I've heard the sentiment before (most recently in a youth meeting that I went to). To my ears, it amounts to "the people here are only important in so far as they can bring in new people."
I've always felt that my gifts and call are for the people who are already here. I think they are important in their own right, I don't think members of the church have an expiration date.
And, I kind of like the feeling that the church is at least a little bit for me.
I've been wrestling all night with the conservative claim that it's not homosexuality that they object to per se, but rather "homosexual practices."
It's pretty hard to nail them down and get them to specify exactly what "homosexual practices" are problematic, but I think it's safe to assume that it's specific sexual acts that they are talking about.
The thing is, there's nothing that homosexuals do that at least some heterosexuals don't also do, and to the best of my knowledge no married candidate for ministry has ever been asked if he or she participates in oral or anal sex with his or her spouse.
To my ears, then, the argument sounds something like this: "God hates oral and anal sex, they're abominations, unless you go to a church and hire a minister to say some magic words and fill out a form, then they're pretty much ok."
Now I know that there is more to marriage than magic words and a form, but those are the only parts of marriage that homosexuals can't participate in, so they must be the mechanisms through which sinful things become not sinful.
They never told me in seminary that ministers have the power to makes sins not be sins, but I do remember reading about indulgences, and I got the impression that we were supposed to be against them.
I've been reading Walter's new book, The Word Militant and specifically the essay called "The Imaginative 'Or'".
In it he talks about how he sees that one of functions of scripture is to present us with an "or," a choice, when the culture surrounding us tells us that things must be "this way." Scripture creates an either/or choice when the rest of the world tells us that there is only "either."
As I read that I was reminded of Freire's discussion of how the oppressor will try to convince the oppressed that all of their choices are life and death, while the liberator's job is to show the oppressed that the reality is that their choices are between life and more life.
Then came Valentines Day. For years I have grumbled about how much I hate Valentines Day. I even talked about it in a sermon last summer. But lately I've noticed at least a little mellowing of my attitude toward my least favorite special day, and I think that mellowing has something to do with the imaginative or.
I think VD is one of the places where the culture presents us with an either without an or. The ads, the store displays, the news stories and everything else tell us everyone should either be in one of these idealized romantic relationships or should be striving to get there. It's a form of Freire's life and death choice, because when I was most miserable about VD it was because I was accepting the cultural message that there was truly something wrong with me, that I wasn't really fully human if I wasn't coupled off, or trying to be coupled of or if I really didn't think I was ever going to be coupled off.
But through the last few years through the study of scripture, the support of an amazing community of friends and a number of other things, I've learned that there is an "or." I can have more life than what the purveyors of Valentines Day would offer me. Just as I don't have to allow society's ideas of gender define my experience, I don't have to accept that my being outside the world of coupling and romance lessens my humanity. And knowing that, I don't get nearly so angry about VD as I used to.
. . .I thought of this, but at some point Tuesday night this question crossed my mind:
"How long would it take all the water in the world to flow past a given point on a river?"
So in keeping with the mongoose motto, I ran and found out.
Googleing "how much water is there in the world," led me to a site that gave me the rough number of 42 million cubic miles. Then Googleing "flow rate of the Mississippi" gave me a range from 200,000 to 700,000 cubic feet per second. For ease of calculation I picked 500,000 as a representative number.
So you take 42 million cubic miles and multiply it by 5280 cubed to get the number of cubic feet. Then you divide by 500,000 to get the number of seconds, then divide by 3600 to get the number of hours, then by 24 to get the number of days and finally by 365.25 to get years (the .25 accounts for leap years).