Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

1/31/2006

Hope on the Gulf Coast

January 30, 2006—The morning was quite surreal. I drove in to Biloxi, Mississippi this morning at 7:30 a.m. in a dense fog. As I reached the main drive along the Gulf—highway 90—bits of trash dotted the live oaks and the occasional ruined mansion seems to rise through the mist.

I stop the car and walk up to one slab. The only thing remaining from what must have been an impressive home is a decapitated jockey statue near the front steps, which now lead to no where. I drive for a couple of miles and see only ruins. I wonder what I’m seeing. I wonder aloud whether this slab was a house, or those ruins were a motel, or maybe a condo. Sometimes it’s fairly easy to tell what might have been. Mostly not.

Following the directions I printed off a website, I make the proper turns and soon find myself at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. I park and walk up to a tool shed where various items are being checked out. “Where do I check in?” I ask a man whose Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response nametag tells me is Keith.

Keith asks what I can do and before I can hem or haw, he asks “Have you mudded sheetrock before?” I allow that I have and try to add that I’m not too good at it. But he is already saying that the fact that I have mudded sheetrock before this morning makes me “an experienced worker.” I am given an inexperienced co-worker, Robert from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and before long we are joined by eight more Lutherans, these down from South Dakota. As you read this column, pause now and you can probably hear someone in Camden County laughing loudly at the idea that I am now an expert on mudding sheetrock.

With the Gulf Coast still enshrouded in fog, we drive to the worksite, with Keith leading the caravan, leaving once we have found our worksite. By 9 a.m., I’m mudding sheetrock joints in the home of a Biloxi Policeman. His house was hit by a six foot tidal surge that ripped out the brick walls and sheetrock and left the roof supported by 2x4s.

The houses on the cul-de-sac are not unlike my own street in Sugarmill. The houses would have sold for about $140,000 before the storm. The insurance company gave the patrolman’s family $25,000 to start over. This I learn from Chris, another patrolman who drops by with supplies. The department is working with 20 officers to get their houses repaired on the meager insurance checks.

When we break for lunch—sandwiches made at a Lutheran Church in South Dakota—I find a small china plate out in the yard. Apparently it came from the neighbor’s house, which is still in ruins. I see a stack of dishes and various household items in the neighbor’s garage. As I add my plate to the pile I see that the top dish on the stack says it is for “Mother’s Day 1981” and bears the inscription, “Cherished moments last for ever.” I add desert plate to the small pile that is all that remains of the house’s contents.

A man from a house across the street walks over to talk. He lives in an RV in front of his wrecked house and seems genuinely pleased to see the progress on the policeman’s home. He says, “If it weren’t for the churches, nothing would be going on here.” I saw motel parking lots packed with pick ups and vans bearing construction company logos, so I know that’s not completely true, but it’s not wrong either—certainly not on this street, where our crew is the only sign of progress among the devastation.

We pack up at 5 p.m. with a lot of progress to show for our day. Everyone has given the task at hand the very best work they had in them, never excepting less than the best before moving on. I am reminded of a quote from Thomas Merton who said we should, “do ordinary tasks perfectly to the glory of God.” Maybe we weren’t perfect today, but we came as close as we knew how to make it. And our work was definitely done to the glory of God.

As the sun sets I am back at Good Shepherd. There are two circus tents, with wood floors and 64 bunk beds apiece. Nearby is a dining hall tent, RVs are scattered alongside a gravel drive under some trees that survived Hurricane Katrina. Porta potties and a couple of tents with showers round out the facilities filling the churchyard.

It’s now 6 p.m. and I’m sitting in the dining hut. Hamburgers and hot dogs with baked beans are being served. The tent is filled with the happy sounds of roughly 100 exhausted and deeply satisfied workers. They regale one another with tales of a day spent working to provide people they may never meet with a better house and reason to hope for a better future.

Considering my job, it’s probably odd that I think so, but I have sometimes have real problems with organized religion. I wonder about denominations and hierarchies and whether God is best worshipped and served through such a structure. And then there comes a day like today, which shows denominations at their best doing what individual churches could never accomplish. Lutherans and Episcopalians working together. And all along the Gulf Coast numerous denominations are working hard as well, joining together doing ordinary tasks to the glory of God.

The devastation I glimpsed through the fog this morning was daunting. The clean up and rebuilding is nowhere near finished, and may in fact take a decade. But in this tent full of the chatter of people with sore muscles, I find hope for both the Gulf Coast and organized religion.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 11/28/2016 6:15 AM, Blogger Dr Purva Pius said…

    Hello Everybody,
    My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:(urgentloan22@gmail.com) Thank you.

    BORROWERS APPLICATION DETAILS


    1. Name Of Applicant in Full:……..
    2. Telephone Numbers:……….
    3. Address and Location:…….
    4. Amount in request………..
    5. Repayment Period:………..
    6. Purpose Of Loan………….
    7. country…………………
    8. phone…………………..
    9. occupation………………
    10.age/sex…………………
    11.Monthly Income…………..
    12.Email……………..

    Regards.
    Managements
    Email Kindly Contact: urgentloan22@gmail.com

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/30/2006

A Rose by Another Name

Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Yet, in Hebrew thought we find that a name is said to convey someone's essence and God is in the name change business with Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter, and Saul/Paul.

Just to keep this blog from taking itself too seriously, take a peak at Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing: A Primer on Parent Cruelty. The site is a humurous catalog of naming questions and suggestions posted on several different baby naming bulletin boards going back as far as early 2001. For example there is this true story,
The Archbishop of Manila is Jaime Lachica Sin. He was made an archbishop in 1972, but was elevated four years later, making him: Cardinal Sin!
A recent addition to the archives was the January 1 sermon on the name of our Lord called What's so special about "Jesus"?

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/29/2006

The Power of a Penguin

penguins from the movie Madagascar
This afternoon, I'll drive to the Gulf Coast to spend two days working out of Camp Biloxi, the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response tent city in Biloxi, Mississippi. It's an advanced trip to find out what King of Peace can be doing to live into its commitment to assist the Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi as it rebuilds its church and community. I call it an advanced trip, but many others have already gone ahead of us. There is a web page with some of their stories at Camp Coast Care, a ministry of the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response which has served 182,000 people.

One story was The Power of a Penguin which told of a nurse giving a boy a plush toy from the movie Madagascar. She wrote,
As the end of my stay at the coast approached, a young mother with her eight-year-old son came into the tent. Most of the patients we saw were depressed, but this little boy appeared to be more depressed than the others. His eyes looked so sad. I gave him two toy cars—I thought he might be a little too old for a stuffed toy—and he absentmindedly rolled the wheels as he waited for his mother to be seen by a physician. When they started to leave, I left my triage station and approached the boy’s mother. She told me they had lost everything and were living in a FEMA trailer, but her son did have a few toys. When I asked if her son would think he was too old to have a plush toy, she said that he had a “sleepy toy” when he was younger and asked him if he would like to have another. Looking a little sheepish, he nodded “yes.” That’s when I told him that I had a Madagascar. He perked up and exclaimed, “You have a Madagascar?” Madagascar penguin plush toy I replied that I had one Madagascar who was waiting just for him if he wanted it. He nodded excitedly, and I took the penguin out of the plastic bag, placing it into his outstretched arms. He clutched the toy against his chest with both arms and walked out of the tent with a sparkle in his eyes. His mother followed him with tears streaming down her cheeks as several volunteers and I turned our heads away and wiped our own tears.

It took so little to change a child’s life for a little while. I hope that someday Madagascar can be found at the bottom of a toy chest full of toys, forgotten and no longer needed. But for one day after “the storm”—and perhaps a little longer—a five-dollar penguin made a difference. Never underestimate the power of a penguin, the power of love.
I'm driving to Mississippi because I have found that when you stay at home and say you care, it is hard to convince someone—no matter how eloquent your words. But when you drive 8 hours and show up, you don't actually have to say anything at all. Being there speaks volumes.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/28/2006

One with Authority

In tomorrow's Gospel reading, we are told,
Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
What would that have been like, to hear the authority of God in Jesus' voice? The Rev. Dr. Otis Young writes
Why do I remember that one teacher in high school who had such good authority but never raised her voice or threatened to send us to the principal or rapped our knuckles? The only answer I can come with is that she taught as one who had authority and it was authentic authority that came from within.
Jesus' authority came to him by way of the Holy Spirit in his baptism and a true authenticity that was not based on his teaching alone, or even on healings alone.

When we invite Jesus into our lives we are still inviting that authority, which comes from the Holy Spirit in. As Jesus would say of the peace he offered, "It is not as the world gives." Jesus' authority that could banish demons can help us banish addictions and the other demons we face as well.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/27/2006

Going to Extremes

Hamas supporters celebrate

Hamas is now in power in Palestine (a Boston Globe article is here). Previously identified in the west dismissively as extremists, "Hamas" means "zeal" in colloquial Arabic and is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (which means "Islamic Resistance Movement"). A helpful Wikipedia article is online here with more complete (if disputed) information on the group.

The group has been closely involved in the Intifadah which started in 2000. Hamas often claims responsibility for retalitory attacks for the roughly 3,700 Palestinians, including over 600 children that have been killed by the Israeli army and settlers (Note: Palestinians are not all Muslim, and the Palestinians who are Christian are predominately Anglican, as is King of Peace). In the process of the Hamas and other attacks, nearly 1,000 Israelis, most civilians, including more than 100 children have been killed by Palestinians (numbers from Amnesty International).

The election gives the group with which Israel will not negotiate 76 of 132 seats in the parliament. Exactly how that group, identified as a terrorist organization by our government among others, will operate now that it has moved from the radical fringe to the reigns of power is not exactly clear (see article), but there are deeply troubling clues. Hamas' logoHamas's logo gives a pictorial representation of the group's stated goals in showing crossed swords, the Islamic Shrine in the heart of Jerusalem—the Dome of the Rock—and the geographic boundary of all Israel as its land, indications are not good. Perhaps the group's slogan (as quoted at Wikipedia) is most succint in stating of Hamas: "God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur'an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes."

In the archives is the Tribune & Georgian religion column on Becoming a Christian Extremist, which rather than guessing whether Muslim Extremist are being faithful to their faith, considers what the extremes of our own faith would be. That column ends with the conclusion
Crucifixion at Barton Creek MallJesus himself summed up all the teachings of scripture with love, saying you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. For Teresa of Calcutta, as for Francis of Assisi, to be a Christian is to love. To be a Christian Extremist is to love the unlovable even more.

The extremists in the news seem to get big results with their actions. Can we counter their great violence with love? How can we get big results by loving?

Mother Teresa knew better than to concentrate on results. One quote of hers sums up for me what it looks like to be a Christian Extremist, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
So do these two things go together or hopelessly contradict? Can the hatred, which is Hamas previous stock-in-trade be countered with love? And if so, at what cost? Furthermore, in what way should Jesus' ideal of love play itself out at the level of nations, presidents, and parliaments?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/26/2006

The Latest Olive Branch

The Olive Branch


The latest issue of The Olive Branch is now online at http://kingofpeace.org/vol7no2.pdf and will go into the mail later this week.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life on OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb?

Scientists announced this week the discovery of an Earth-like planet 25,000 light years away. The BBC News article is here. Known by the less than eloquent name OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, the discovery proves (if nothing else) that poets, not scientists, should name space objects and other big discoveries. The planet's temperature is an estimated -364F, making life unlikely and life as we know it impossible.

illustration from the BBC News articleYet Professor Michael Bode from Liverpool John Moores University, one of the main researchers on the find is quick to note, "This is the most Earth-like planet we have discovered to date, in terms of its mass and the distance from its parent star."

I am agnostic when it comes to the issue of life on other planets. But as a teen I was very much interested in UFOs, aliens and the like. I found the song "UFO" by Larry Norman to be helpful. The Christian rocker wrote of Jesus,
If there's life on other planets,
I'm sure that he must know,
and he's been there once already,
and has died to save their souls.
An earlier post God in Outer Space is probably relevent here as well. As it quoted C.S. Lewis who said in part, "Space travel has nothing to do with the matter. To some, God is discoverable everywhere; to others nowhere."

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/25/2006

The pastor and the pat answer

Being a pastor teaches me to be careful of pat answers. It's hard to give a short, succinct answer without the context. Ask me where I stand on abortion and I do have a personal answer at the ready. Ask me after church on Sunday and I would rather set an appointment time. It's not that I want to be a wimp. But, people come to church with all sorts of previous experiences and baggage. It takes time to do those previous experiences justice and a pat answer doesn't allow for that.

I ran across a recent article in Leadership Journal by Brian McLaren, a noted writer on Christianity in a postmodern context. McLaren is also a pastor and he discusses the experience of being a pastor in dealing with questions on homosexuality as he writes
the Rev. Brian McLarenI hesitate in answering "the homosexual question" not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question.
The full text of the article is here.

You don't have to agree with all McLaren writes in order to see the issue. And I bring it up because you too, gentle readers, have cause to be pastoral to friends and family. Sometimes the first response needs to be to listen, really listen, before filling someone in on where we stand. Often we need to understand where someone is coming from first.

It is amazing what the question "Why do you ask?" brings up. Often, abortion or homosexuality or some other presenting issue is not the main point. And even if it is the real issue, the person might not be asking about what you think about "pulling the plug on someone" just to hear your opinion, but because they are struggling with a real-life decision, or the results of one. And if you give the pat answer, you may never get to hear the real struggles someone is facing. The pastoral response takes more time, but it also takes the other person more seriously.

3 Comments:

  • At 1/25/2006 10:23 AM, Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD said…

    I agree with the pastor on not giving comment regarding issue of gays.We should always take into consideration the whole of who a person is, not just the mistake or blunder he or she may have made.

     
  • At 1/26/2006 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wouldn't the world be better if we all listened, really listened to one another? It's something we all need to work on.

     
  • At 1/28/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger Questing Parson said…

    The beginning of engagement is not in the answer but in the hearing, is it not?

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/24/2006

Book of Nature—Word of God

Frank's photo of an Egyptian oasis

Saint Anthony of Egypt was the leader of a group of hermits who sought out the peace of the 4th century Egyptian desert to follow God and in so doing began Christian monasticism. The sayings of the great church fathers and mothers of the desert are preserved for us to this day. Here is one of Anthony's sayings from Thomas Merton's collection, The Wisdom of the Desert.

A certain philospher asked St. Anthony: Father, how can you be so happy when you are deprived of the consolation of books? Anthony replied: My book, O philospher, is the nature of created things and any time I want to read the words of God, the book is before me.

Many people find themselves close to God in nature. Has creation ever been the Word of God for you? Is there a downside to relying on the book of nature as the Word of God?

1 Comments:

  • At 1/24/2006 4:32 PM, Anonymous William said…

    I guess it depends upon which part of the natural world you want to use as the book of God.

    I suspect that St. Anthony meant the cycle of the seasons, the exquisite beauty of flowers, the grandeur of a sunset, spring rain, etc.

    Did St. Anthony mean the destruction of something on the level of Katrina? What about survival of the fittest? Drought? Plague?

    Are these apt metaphors for who God really is and how He reveals Himself? If this is His creation then it would seem the answer is yes. As mortals we cannot really fathom God. Is he the god of the storm? Or the god of renewal?

    Some Eastern faiths believe that God cannot be separated from His creation. The argument is that if God made the universe and mankind then the sin nature of man must also be God's creation. That the totality of God must also emcompass the Dark Side. If sin is the fault of man, then it was a creation not of God and he is therefore not in charge of everything. This seems to put a limtation on a God we see as all-powerful.

    If nothing else it makes an interesting argument.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/23/2006

Let go of the rail



Kyle watches CRaig complete his 'one perfect lap' holding onto the railYesterday, Camden County Episcopal Youth went ice skating. We had a great time and in the process, I observed two truths:

You can't learn to skate
1) by holding on to the side rail, or
2) without testing the thickness of your padding.

Kyle zooms byI said yesterday that I thought these two observations "would preach" in that we similarly are called by God to take steps of faith and stepping out in faith is not always easy or without its problems. King of Peace has moved forward as a church by stepping out in faith—like opening The Preschool with a few thousand dollars in the bank, only 9 students enrolled, and a projected quarter million a year in expenses. We all really felt God was leading us that direction and we stepped out in faith. Kyle wipes outAlong the way we got in debt, the church had to loan some money to the school, and within four months the new business was in doubt (lesson 2 above) but we revisited the business plan, made some changes, but generally stayed firm. The Preschool is now a thriving ministry, providing the best possible care to the students while emphasizing education, including Christian Education, and it is even successful as a non-profit business. But we would not have gotten close to where we are without letting go of the rail.

Deanna, Griffin and Kalyn tell about falling togetherThe same applies to us as individuals. We have to take steps of faith at time that mean letting go of the rail. As Anglicans (of which the Episcopal Church is part), we feel that God leads us in community. If you, as an individual, feel that God is calling you to do something, then others will affirm it. The shorthand I use for this is "God speaks in stereo." So that when God is calling you to do something, you'll just know it, but others will confirm it, often without knowing they are doing so. You'll hear something on the radio or read it in the newspaper which confirms the next step. Celeste and GriffinSomeone will offhandly mention something only to be affirming the step God has for you (like the way this blog entry will likely speak to someone's heart about where God is leading him or her). But with all that said, steps of faith do not ensure that everything will go off without a hitch. God will be there both when we step out and when we fall (lessons 1 & 2 above). It's not easy, but it beats hanging on to the rail watching the skaters zoom by.

Photos of yesterday's Memorial Garden Dedication are also now online.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 1/23/2006 11:34 AM, Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church said…

    I continue to be amazed (although I'm not sure why) at the love for the memorial garden at St Mike's. I would venture a guess that well over 50% of the parishioners plan to be buried there. I guess I'm amazed because I grew up in an area/family that did not smile too kindly on cremation. The image of the memorial garden by the church is incredible; the remains of loved ones becoming one with the foundation of the church - an image that in life or death, we are the church. It is also interesting how no one minds the fact that there are no real markers in our garden. There is one marker that lists the names of the people buried but the specific locations are known perhaps only to the families and to the piece of paper in a file cabinet in the church office; suggesting to everyone that passes that he/she is not here, he/she is risen!

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/22/2006

Learning from others

Gil cuts palmettosYesterday, we had a work day to get the area in which we are creating a memorial garden ready for the dedication of the gazebo which will serve as its anchor. A lot of people (I counted 19 in the photos, but that might not be all) came out for the event. We accomplished a lot of work, got to know one another better, and had fun, even when a big 4-wheel drive forklift got stuck in the mud, everyone kept their good humor.

Max and ChrisOne thing I saw that was just perfect: Some of the kids—Chris, Max, Evan, and Amanda—were raking sticks and leaves to burn. And Colby, a toddler in his stroller, wanted in on the action. He not only got hold of rake, but actually put it to use. Colby had watched the adults and then the kids working hard to clean up and he wanted to do the same. It's only natural.

Colby learns from exampleWe all know that kids learn so much by watching others and mimicking what they do. It was just nice to see Colby learning at his church. It's a place where Colby is well known and loved. A place where he can learn many things, including how to use a rake. But along the way, Colby will also learn that there is a God who lovingly made all that is who loves Colby even more than the congregation that loves him a lot. And Colby will learn to pray. And he'll learn stories of Jesus' life and how the rest of us work to pattern our lives after his life. So much to learn and all without feeling like your being preached at or even taught at.

a forklift stuck in the mud while everyone remains calm and even laughs, was the best visual example at handYet this is how we best learn from others as we pay more attention to their actions rather than merely their words alone. The Apostle Paul counted on this so much, he dared to teach others to do as he did. In Phillipians 3:17, he wrote, "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us." I wish I could be so bold, but I am all too aware of my own failings. Instead, I prefer to think that we can do it together. Together, we can be a place where people actually see Christians working to pattern their lives after Jesus' life and teachings. And sometimes one of us will mess up somehow, and then we'll teach about grace, love and forgiveness through our actions.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/21/2006

Repent and Believe



In tomorrow's Gospel reading, Jesus begins his ministry by preaching, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

One commentary on this passage notes:
Both John the Baptist and Jesus preach the need for repentance, but the significance of, and occasion for, repentance is different for each.

Earlier in Mark's gospel John the Baptist had preached a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (1:4; see Second Sunday of Advent). Such repentance was a prerequisite for forgiveness and thus a way to escape impending judgment.

While Jesus, too, preaches repentance, the significance is different: repentance is linked to believing the gospel. The good news that Jesus announces requires a response, not of purification, but of believing.

At the same time, the occasion for repentance as preached by John and Jesus is also different. For John the urgent need to repent is linked to the imminent coming of "one mightier than I" (1:7). Now that the Mightier One, that is, Jesus, has appeared, repentance is needed because "the kingdom of God is at hand."

In the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah announced the "good news" that "your God is King"; God, in turn announces, "Here I am" and his arrival ushers in a time of "peace . . .[and] salvation" (Isa 57:6-7). This passage from Isaiah brings together key elements of Jesus' own announcement: good news, God's reign as king, and the nearness of God's rule.

Thus, Jesus is fulfilling that ancient prophecy and in him the kingdom of God is being made manifest. But because Jesus is an itinerant preacher and the son of a carpenter, it would have been unexpected to see in him the glorious approach of God's kingdom. In this context, "repent" means a change of mind: people would need to adjust their expectations as to how it is that God is working in the world.
—from Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities Year B - 2006, p. 43.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/20/2006

The Price of Greed

How much does greed cost? In the case of a California couple who tried to defraud Wendy's, nine years of their lives and $170,000 is the price of the bowl of chili which was at the heart of their plan to get rich quick.

Anna Ayala and husband Jaime Plascencia are the couple, with a previous history of frivilous lawsuits, who pretended to find a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy's Chili. In a bit of detective work worthy of the TV show C.S.I., police proved that the finger had been added to the chili after it was purchased. But the incident cost the hamburger chain millions of dollars in declining revenues and will now cost the pair nearly a decade of their lives. As Judge Edward Davila who ruled on the case this week said, "Greed and avarice overtook this couple and they lost their moral compass."

Judge Davila's statement on avarice brings back that now nearly lost word, which was once known as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Avarice is to be possessed by your own possessions. It is to see acquiring money or possessions as the end in itself rather than useful means.
Mark's Gospel tells of Jesus meeting a rich young man (read the story here) who could not follow Jesus because he had many possessions with which he refused to part. That is avarice. The solution is to rightly see money and possessions in relation to our relationship with God.

As the Rev. Dr. William Stafford puts it in the chapter on avarice his book Disordered Loves: Healing the Seven Deadly Sins,

We urgently need Christians who deliberately choose to live in the midst of the world as if God really were the Lord and creator of all. We are not the owners and makers of all things; God is. What one has, one holds in trust from him and on behalf of others. Our creativity is to mirror his, our generosity his own.
note:
Today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian, The Dollar Value of Attending Church is now online.

We are having a clean-up day tomorrow to get the grounds ready for Sunday's dedication of the gazebo which is the start of our memorial garden. We'll start at 9 a.m. and at noon we'll grill a few hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and then finish up what little remains to be done. Come for all of it or drop by for what you can do.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/19/2006

Men and Church Revisited

perhaps the problem starts earlyThis blog marches on with new posts day after day. But the old ones stay online and get visits and comments, which might go unnoticed if I didn't have a feature that emails me comments posted to Irenic Thoughts. Yesterday, a comment came in to a post from July on Why Men hate going to church. The anonymous comment offered these thoughts that I offer here for your thoughts and comments:
I enjoyed this blog. Found it looking for comments on "Why men hate going to church." I have a couple of thoughts (as a man) about what the book missed and would like your response.
1. Christians have turned Jesus into a neutered Mr. nice guy. He's all meek and mild and most men aren't comfortable with that whole "metro-male" thing.
2. The songs at church are mostly "Jesus is my boyfriend and I really love him" stuff.
3. The church hierarchy often bashes men and sings the praises of the female.
4. Christians are always talking about "personal relationships with Jesus and each other." Men don't like "relationship" speeches. Hint: what did Jesus preach? Personal relationships or repent, believe, and follow?
5. Men hate things like share time, personal testimony time, passing the peace/ hug everybody you don't know time.
6. Church has turned into a sentimental emotion-fest. Worship has become just another "Chick flick." Men don't like church for the same reason they don't watch Oprah. Nothing wrong with it, it's just a girl thing.
a poor excuse7. The Rector, vestry, education teachers, youth director, treasurer, and secretary, even acolytes, are all female. Men don't like female domination any more than women like male domination.
8. At church, the teaching is fluff and the expectations low. At least with Nascar, the skill is hard won, the expectations high, and the competition fierce. In a busy world, Nascar is a more worthy investment.
9. Men don't mind paying for something that impacts or improves their lives—boats, cable, satellites, etc. What have we done to worship that it isn't worth it to men?
10. The problem isn't the feminine side of Christianity. Men actually like women. The problem is that Christians have emasculated the church.

What do you think of my top ten?—Anonymous
So what do y'all think of this new top ten reasons men avoid church?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

2 Comments:

  • At 1/19/2006 4:36 PM, Anonymous William said…

    I think the writer uses a bit of hyperbole to make an excellent point: The Church often presents Christ as an effiminate peacenik. The Mel Gibson movie "Passion of Christ" may have put the picture a little more in focus but it put too much emphasis on the suffering and Christ going forward as the meek sacrificial lamb.

    He was a carpenter. Surely He was physically strong and accustomed to hard work. He resisted both the Jewish and the Roman power structures. When everyone who loved Him abondoned Him, He stood firm and faced a fate truly more horrible than we can imagine.

    Christ was a warrior. He fought, not with weapons, but with love. Even with the best of modern weapons and armor, it takes a brave man to face an armed enemy. How much more so empty handed?

    Christ clear enjoyed male bonding. He liked fishin', did a little drinkin' and wasn't afraid of wrasslin'(He chased the money changers out of The Temple).

    But seriously, the writer's point is well taken. A more rounded presentation of who Christ truly was couldn't hurt.

     
  • At 1/19/2006 6:49 PM, Blogger Naomi said…

    Excuses, not reasons.

    Naomi

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/18/2006

$1 to $2 per day


How poor is poor. For the World Bank, the answer is $2 US per day. The bank estimates that there were 2.7 billion people, or roughly half the world's population at the time living on $2 US (or less) per day in 2001 with 1.1 billion of those people living on $1 per day or less.

According to Ask Yahoo:

  • Each year over 8 million people die because they are simply too poor to stay alive.
  • More than 800 million people go hungry every day.
  • The gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people.
  • Thirty-thousand children die every day due to hunger and treatable illnesses.
  • 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, as a result of malnutrition.
The problem seems too large to tackle, yet it is possible to make a difference. Wanna know what we are doing about it? Check out Episcopal Relief and Development. Through ERD, King of Peace assists with food security and primary health care programs, provides farming and business training, health care services, and HIV/AIDS programs in communities where families are struggling to survive and gives people the tools to earn an income and create opportunities for their children.

You support ERD through King of Peace and the Diocese of Georgia. You may also support the group's efforts in the U.S. and around the world directly through their website http://www.er-d.org/.

In addition to other support from King of Peace and the Diocese of Georgia, our Coke machine earns 15 cents on the dollar for Episcopal Relief and Development's Clean Water Fund. The machine may earn a small contribution per Coke, but it is not an insignificant way we reach out to those in need. The sad fact is that our Coke machine alone earns more money for ERD each day than roughly 1 billion people have to live on, and on many days the soft drink profits of our one machine top the income of more than half of the earth's population.

You can start a similar project in your own home by buying Bishops Blend Coffee from ERD to support their programs through your morning cup of Joe. It's even great coffee!

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/17/2006

Creativity Unleashed

A grandpa and grandson who were thereThis past Sunday, for the January Kids in the Kingdom, we read the book Twice Yours. In the book a grandfather is carving something for his grandson while telling him a story from his own life. When the grandfather was a boy he carved a boat and made a sail for it. Then he would take the boat down to the creek to let it float down the water, while he kept up with it by a string tied to the boat. One day the string broke and the boy could not find the boat. After several attempts on different days, Chris shows a boat he madethe boy finally went much farther downstream and found another boy playing with his now battered boat. Invoking "finders keepers" the second boy insisted that if he wanted his boat back, he would have to trade. The boy gave everything he had to get the boat he had made back—all of the collected treasures in his pockets. Kali made a crossThen he proclaimed his love for his boat saying that it was twice his as he had created it and then paid everything to buy it back. The grandfather then explained this is like Jesus who made us, and then gave everything to buy us back from sin because of his great love.

cutting fabricAfter hearing a story of creation and love it seemed best to let the kids create whatever they wanted to out of piles of materials. It was rewarding to see their creativity unleashed. You can see more photos of the fun online.

Miriam combines glitter, markers and dried pasta

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/16/2006

Unarmed truth and unconditional love

Some thoughts from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK at the Lincoln Memorial
"I believe that unarmed truth and
unconditional love will have
the final word in reality.
That is why right, temporarily defeated,
is stronger than evil triumphant."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speach, December 10, 1964

"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets
even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music,
or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well
that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,
here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."

"The church was not merely a thermometer
that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion;
it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend."

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.
We have guided missiles and misguided men."
Strength to Love, 1963

"All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality."

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period
of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people."

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered
something he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
Speech in Detroit, June 23, 1963

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia,
the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners
will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood."

the rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

6 Comments:

  • At 1/16/2006 8:12 AM, Blogger Celeste said…

    "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia,
    the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners
    will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood."

    I think this dream has come true. Perhaps more slowly than some would like, but it is that way for me in my job and in my church. Thanks for the blog, Frank.

     
  • At 1/16/2006 12:46 PM, Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church said…

    I just left Waynesboro's MLK rally at the town park (St Michael's happens to sit on the town park...I didn't know there was going to be a rally until I heard the singing) - four white people were there - two were working (EMT and a reporter) and the remaining two were the United Methodist pastor and myself - and I didn't even know there was a rally.

    Lord, have mercy.

    Steve +

     
  • At 1/16/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD said…

    I agree with you 100% about love changing enemies to friendship coz you can create an oasis of love in the midst of a harsh and uncaring world by grinding it out and sticking in there.
    I also do believe that success is to be measured not by wealth, power or fame, nor education, but by the ration between what man is and what he might be.

     
  • At 1/17/2006 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dr. King's dream remains just that, an unfulfilled vision of true equality. There are a great many people who, on the surface, say they believe everyone to be equal no matter the skin color. But in reality we are still two separate races inhabiting the same space and time. The prejudice may be covert but it very much still exists. All you have to do is drive down MLK Boulevard in Kingsland and you'll see how the other half lives. Dr. King had the unique abilities of putting the feelings of his generation into eloquent words and the ability to make others believe what he knew to be true: You cannot conquer love. It's what Christ taught. It's what Dr. King taught. Too bad it remains a dream deferred.

     
  • At 1/19/2006 4:44 PM, Blogger Celeste said…

    In reply to Anonymous: MLK blvd in Kingsland actually has some very nice big houses on it, along with some older run down houses. I don't get your point about the "other half". That seems to separate us in itself. :( I am sorry you don't experience the improvements and celebrate the differences in our races as I have had the privilage to. Don't get me wrong, I do see some areas that need improvement, as I do within my own race and the stereotypes that are within it. I also see the changes for the good and they are happening. If I am called gullible or ignorant, then that's what I would rather be than hopeless.

     
  • At 1/20/2006 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What I meant by "the other half" is the poor African Americans that live in Camden County that the white well-to-do don't even know exist. I'm hopeful that one day we will live in a world of true equality. But to look at it with rose colored glasses and call it something it's not is as big a disservice as ignoring the problem.

    I do celebrate diversity and believe that in that diversity we find our greatest strength. I work in a profession where we see the sometimes ugly reality of life and the consequences of decades of white dominated government and culture up close and personally. Make no mistake about it, racism exists in Camden County. Ask an African American who was born and raised here.

    We are all equal. God is colorblind, it's some of his creations that are the problem.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/15/2006

Faith and love in the face of death

There was an interesting story in The Brunswick News worth reading and the full text of the article is online here.

The article tells of Miranda Kunda, a 7-year old girl with strong faith, who died recently. In Mid-2004 she announced to her family that Jesus had told her she would be dying soon. The following month, Miranda was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. Miranda said, "My prayer is that everybody in the world will have a Bible and know Jesus and not need money."

You can read the rest of the article for yourself and add any comments here at the blog.

3 Comments:

  • At 1/19/2006 9:10 PM, Anonymous Rhonda said…

    Miranda was my niece. I am so saddened by her death, but I know that God had a plan for her life. Her faith has touched me deeply. I am going to work to be a better Christian and person, and to appreciate every day that I have with my daughters and family. I will try to be more forgiving and loving.

     
  • At 1/25/2006 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Preston, her father, is my brother. Miranda is my niece. She touched the lives of so many. And her smile will be with me always. I pray that after reading the article about her more people will come to know Jesus as their Savior. She had a faith that was so strong. She loved everyone and showed it in her acts of love she gave so freely. I will never forget her or the legacy she has left. If we all had the faith she had the world would be a happier place. Please take the time to read the article. It will touch your life I promise. God Bless you and please remember to pray for her family. We miss her very much and look forward to the day we can all be together in Heaven.
    Jennifer

     
  • At 4/20/2007 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    http://www.ncnnews.com/Article.aspx?id=2164 contains the article now.

    Thank you,

    Preston

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

Spirituality and Chronic Pain

There is a spiritual path as well as a chemical optionThere is a definite connection between chronic pain and spirituality. This is not to fall prey to the oversimplification that says that our adversity is a result of our disobedience to God's will. Jesus clearly repudiates this view, popular in his time, which made suffering the direct result of our sinfulness (Luke 13:1-5 and John 9).

The connection between pain and spirituality is found in the way we relate our spiritual nature to our physical nature. When we look at our pain and suffering through "the eyes" of our spirit, we see that the important thing is not the pain itself, but rather the way we deal with it. The English poet John Milton (1608-1674) once wrote, "It is not miserable to be blind. It is miserable to be incapable of enduring blindness."

A very close friend of mine, who is also a retired priest, fell from a ladder while cleaning his gutters and broke both his legs. That was a number of years ago and he still experiences a great deal of pain. He observes that "through prayer and meditation we are empowered to bear up under more adversity than we could under normal circumstances and we can rise above the increased level of pain." Perhaps the supreme example of how we should deal with pain is found in Christ's own suffering on the cross. "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

"Let us rejoice in our sufferings," writes St. Paul, "knowing that suffering produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope" (Romans 5:3,4). Paul also welcomes his "thorn in the flesh" as the way to know what strength is to be found in an awareness of our personal weakness (II Corinthians 12:7-9). "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamaties; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).

One of the greatest paradoxes of the Christian Life is found in the joy that accompanies our tribulation and pain. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
These thoughts from the Rev. Canon Ronald G. Albury were originally published in Health News from the Episcopal Church Medical Trust. Our once-monthly healing service is tonight at 6 p.m.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/14/2006

The "E" Word

Evangelism shouldn't be finger pointing
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus calls Philip to follow him, and Philip announces to Nathanael that he has found the Messiah. Nathanael is skeptical until Jesus tells him he was watching Nathanael as he was sitting under a fig tree in a private moment.

This encounter is part of an ongoing pattern in the Gospels and particularly John's Gospel in which one person comes to understand who Jesus is and then immediately leads others to Jesus. Andrew learned of Jesus and went immediately after his brother Simon (whom Jesus called Peter). The Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well and led her whole village to him.

The challenge is that the Gospel seems to expect that those of us who have discovered who Jesus is, will go and tell others and in this telling they too will come to know him for themselves.

We have seen evangelization done badly—one person beating another up with the Gospel at times—and can forget that originally, evangelism just means sharing Good News. How do we capture that simplicity of sharing Good News when our friends and neighbors think they already know all about Jesus?

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/13/2006

Ineffable

ineffable: incapable of being expressed.

Saint Thomas AquinasThomas Aquinas (1225-1274) taught that while God is beyond us in terms of both our understanding and the language we have to express that which we do know of God, we can speak of God through analogies. So when we say "God is love" we have come to know about love through our own experience of human love, and it helps us to understand God even though scripture and experience teach that God's love is far greater than human love can ever be. Likewise, speaking of God as The Father does not make God either male or like a human father. However, the analogy of God as The Father, which Jesus taught, does assist in our understanding of God.

Aquinas himself used analogy to push his understanding of God in new ways. He wrote a great multi-volume work, Summa Theologica, which was a thorough, and scientifically arranged exposition of theology as well as a summary of Christian philosophy. Aquinas taught us how helpful analogies can be in deepening our understanding of God, and then he taught us as well how all analogies do break down at some point when it comes to God. For after Thomas Aquinas many years of work as a Christian philosopher and writer, he had an experience of God in worship which led him to tell a fellow monk,
All my works seem like straw after what I have seen.
The saint, teacher and doctor of the church who taught us the utility of analogy when speaking of God learned very powerfully how ineffable God truly is.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/12/2006

The Power of Forgiveness

John Paul II meets with AgcaAfter spending more than half his life in prison, 48 year old Mehmet Ali Ağca left a Turkish prison today, thanks in large part to the man he tried to kill. Ağca was the would be assassin of Pope John Paul II in 1981. The latest news of his release is here in a BBC News article.

As pictured here, John Paul II met with Ağca two years after the shooting to personally forgive him for the attempt on his life. In 2000, he was pardoned at John Paul II's insistence and has since been serving time in a Turkish prison for a previous murder of a Turkish journalist. On John Paul's April 2, 2005 death, Ağca's brother Adnan told a reporter that his brother Mehmet and his entire family were grieving as the Pope had been "a great friend" to them.

A Turkish ultra-nationlist at the time of the assasination attempt, Ağca remains a Muslim. In a statement published today Ağca said of Benedict XVI, “Eternal Thanks to the Vatican. I offer my deepest gratitude and respect to the pope for helping to secure my release...Their forgiveness and support should be taken as an opportunity for greater friendship and dialogue between religions.”

What will now become of Ağca's life remains an open question. He reported today for military service, though that may be differed. Some say his life is in danger. He has said he intends to complete a book detailing his side of the story. What is clear is that Ağca is free because the man he wanted dead forgave him and he seems to be truly grateful for that forgiveness.

The current issue of The Toilet PaperCoincidentally, the issue of The Toilet Paper currently up at King of Peace is all about forgiveness. For those who don't know, The Toilet Paper is a newsletter posted in the bathroom stalls at King of Peace to provide reading material for those using the facilities. The current issue of The Toilet Paper is online here in Adobe .PDF format. We change The Toilet Paper every other week.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/11/2006

Raise your income by 10%

worship at King of PeaceYes, the headline does sound like a marketing ploy. But a recent issue of The Economist had an Economics Focus column on Wealth from Worship which looked at the surprising rewards of frequent church attendance. It seems that Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist found that doubling your church attendance will raise your income by 10%. The article told of Gruber's further claims that, "regular religious participation leads to better education, higher income and a lower chance of divorce."

Cause and Effect
A key question of course is whether the data is coincidental or the result of a cause-effect relationship between church attendance and a better standard of living. Gruber cites three reasons for the potential earnings gains:
  • Church attendance creates a web of relationships within the larger community which brings with it social capital, making business deals easier to pull off.
  • Those who attend church regularly also have mutual emotional and (in times of distress) financial support that allows quicker recovery from problems.
  • Lastly, Gruber posits that regular church attenders are more able to succeed due to being less stressed than their non-church going neighbors.

The full text of The Economist article is online here. What do you think of these less-than-spiritual reasons for attending church?

In the archives
You will find religion columns from the Tribune & Georgian on
Why a non-believer may want a church
Build a sense of community in church

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

King of Peace with the chairs arranged around the altar for Advent

1 Comments:

  • At 1/11/2006 4:46 PM, Blogger Miroslav said…

    "What do you think of these less-than-spiritual reasons for attending church?" - Hmmm... how to tackle that question. I can't imagine that people actually attend church in order to receive those 'benefits' ... but neither would I deny that they exist. Of course, I wonder if the same sort of benefits aren't also realized in other religions.

    I have to say that I find it far more fascinating to consider why people attend church who do not have faith in the God that is worshipped there. And dovetailing off that question, I then ponder the large numbers of simple pew-sitters. Quasi-believers. Casual Christians. Culturally molded. Call them what you will. I wonder if that sort of faith isn't something clung to, almost desperately, ... because Life is too difficult without it.

    But of course, that isn't really the point in this post. :)

    So I'll be quiet now.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home

1/10/2006

The Book of Daniel

drama in an Episcopal Priest's house on NBC

Lately, everyone is asking me about the controversial new TV series The Book of Daniel. I've always liked Aidan Quin and wish any show well which gets people thinking about how Jesus is relevent to their lives. And you sure can't miss Jesus in a show that has our Lord as a main character discussing life with an Episcopal priest.

Father Daniel with Jesus over his shoulderI talk to Jesus all the time, so it is hard for me to be offended by a character who does so, even if the TV show resorts to the device of Jesus being physically present and talking out loud to Daniel, the priest who wants to take more Vicadin than his conversations with Jesus will allow. My main issue with the show is that it packs a LOT of problems into one family in a short period of time—perhaps that is the nature of a pilot episode in the sink or swim world of TV pilots.

For more reasoned looks at the show than mine, you may want to visit the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC's Blog of Daniel at which show creator Jack Kenny commented in part
Our goal has always been to tell a specific story about a man and his family... a man and his flaws... a man and his own personal, private relationship with his faith - in the embodiment of Jesus... how anyone can be offended by this, and deny the opportunity of others to watch it and make up their own minds is a continual source of confusion for me... It was written with nothing but respect and love for the Episcopal church and it's members.
You may also want to visit the blog Father Jake Stops the World who posted this.

The official NBC website for the show is here.

So what do I think? The show has already proved to be a starter for several good discussions and a few other entertaining ones and for that I am thankful no matter the shows merits or deficiencies for any TV show that gets people thinking about Jesus and how he intersects with their daily lives.

My version would look more like this: some digital retouching went into creating this illustration. duh.Have you seen the show?
What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

1 Comments:

  • At 1/10/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church said…

    I watched it and I was expecting a lot worse. It didn't bother me. In fact, the adopted son is one of the funniest characters I've seen on tv in a long time. It seems the biggest outcry is from people who are offended at the portrayal of a priest's family. If you believe there is not any dysfunction in a clerical household, I'm selling some ocean front property in middle Georgia you might want to invest in! It was plot overload, however. I thought Pat Robertson was more offensive, but I don't see community forums on the 11 o'clock news discussing the religious impact of his comments like they did for the Book of Daniel on our local news.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home