thoughts on the Catholic perspective

My friend Fran is a devoted Catholic who works in a Catholic church and writes multiple Catholic-themed blogs. She expressed frustration one day on Facebook that some people were calling her too Catholic, while others were calling her not Catholic enough. (Seems to me that means she’s doing something right.) In response to that Fran pointed to a blog by Julia Smucker, a Mennonite who converted to Catholicism. Smucker gives a number of reasons for sticking with the Catholic faith. I commend the whole blog to you, as she has salient comments on each of these points.

  • The very long view
  • The both/and
  • Tradition is a living process
  • So is conversion
  • Held together by ritual
  • Liturgy is plurality

I would say that all of these points apply to the Episcopal Church as well. Certainly there are differences in the interpretation of each of the above, but I belive these are shared values.

There are a lot of reasons why I would never become a Catholic: their positions on birth control, abortion, woman priests and celibacy in the priesthood, and so on. Yet as Clayton, then Associate at All Saints’ Palo Alto, pointed out in our confirmation class, Catholic theology is internally consistent. Their anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-death penalty positions all stem from the same belief that we are obligated to preserve life at whatever stage. I’m not sure that I can explain any consistency in my standard, left-leaning, bleeding heart liberal positions of being pro-abortion and anti-death penalty.

Of course I also have to give a shout out to the American nuns who are standing up against the unwarranted criticism by the Vatican.

So I continue to respect and enjoy my Catholic friends and I know that there is much I can learn from them.

Sacred Music Friday: Magnificat

Magnificat (Ang Puso Ko’s Nagpupuri) sung by Hangad, from the album Hangad A Capella. A very energetic version!

belonging, behaving, and believing

A word for our churches in today’s world.

A larger task, however, is required: we must turn around the order in which the questions are asked. Instead of believing, behaving, and belonging, we need to reverse the order to belonging, behaving, and believing. And therein lies the difference between religion-as-institution and religion as a spiritually vital faith.

—Diana Butler Bass, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening

daytime television

Normally I disagree strongly with the right-wing politics in Mallard Fillmore, but sometimes the strip gets it right. In this case I will say that I haven’t been in a laundromat in ages, but this is sure true of my local Jiffy Lube.

learning responsibility

Don MacLean opens “American Pie” singing about the day he delivered the newspapers on his route that bore the news of the death of Buddy Holly. I had a paper route too and delivered the papers that carried the news of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. But then I also delivered the papers that displayed the headline about that which everyone had seen on television the day before: “Small step…Giant leap.”

We were, technically, independent contractors, since to be an employee would be a violation of child labor laws. Still, my paper route taught me a lot. I got up every day at 5:30 am, folded my papers, threw them on to my bike and delivered them. Each month I collected the subscription fee from my customers, paid my bill, and kept the difference. It was a great lesson in handling money and responsibility in general.

Today those child labor law loopholes have been closed and in any case the economics no longer support that model. Now papers are delivered by an adult who has, one hopes, a fuel-efficient car. That one person delivers the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and who knows what else.

Let me say clearly, though, that that experience is one I would not, looking back, have traded for anything.

remembering Jan

I was saddened on Friday to read in the diocesan newsletter of the passing of The Reverend Jan Meikle. Jan was Vicar at St. Stephen’s in-the-Field in South San Jose during the year I spent there.

The first year we moved to Gilroy I continued to drive up to All Saints’ Palo Alto even though Terry and I were commuting all week. Holy Week of 1998 I was hit with the realization that I just couldn’t keep doing that.

Terry and I carpooled a lot in those days, and it was before Highway 101 was widened through the Coyote Valley. To avoid the crush, we would frequently jump off of 101 in South San Jose and take Santa Teresa Boulevard into Morgan Hill. In South San Jose, at the very end of the line before the terrain shifted from businesses, homes, and schools into open fields, was a plot of land with two churches in two separate buildings: one Lutheran and one Episcopal. That Holy Week I decided to visit St. Stephen’s in-the-Field Episcopal. I stayed there for a year.

A large part of the reason I stayed that year was Jan. She was warm and welcoming. Her sermons came from the heart and spoke to me. She felt very strongly about Communion being open to all: “All baptized are welcome at the Lord’s Table.”

The fact that I only stayed there for a year had nothing to do with Jan. What it did have to do with were deeply ingrained characteristics of the church that were present before Jan arrived and no doubt remained long after she left St. Stephen’s and moved to Oregon. It was a privilege for me to kneel at the altar with my hands open and receive the Bread from her. It was even more of a privilege to serve alongside her at the altar as a Lay Eucharistic Minister.

The Church has lost a good and faithful servant. Rest in peace and rise in glory, Jan.

Sacred Music Friday: Simeon’s Canticle

Lord let your servant go in peace sung by Hangad. This rendition and the accompanying video brought a tear to my eye.

wow, really?

I was on the phone last week with a colleague in a different business unit, who over the last year has annoyed, frustrated, upset, and aggravated me. But, at the same time we have found some common ground and have developed a rapport of sorts. Due to changes in direction and strategy we won’t be working as closely together in the future.

With all the reorg going on these days she said, about to reveal something she didn’t want everyone to know, “I’m telling you this as a friend, not as a coworker.”


that can’t be

Since we’ve had smart meters for a while now, I now getting letters in the mail from our utility, PG&E, telling me about our energy usage.

I can believe when they tell me that we use more energy than the average home of our size, because both Terry and I work from home. But when they say we used 68% more energy cooling our home last summer than the average house our size, my response is, “Are you kidding?”

The thermostat is set to 82 during the day. At 6:30 it kicks down to 78, which is a lot warmer than most people keep their houses, I’m willing to bet. As soon as the outside temperature hits 69, we turn up the thermostat and open the window. I bet most people don’t do that.

Now our A/C is fifteen years old, but so is everyone else’s in the neighborhood. At least, I haven’t seen anyone changing out their unit. Of course if they’re comparing us to those who don’t have air conditioning, the number might be right, but what kind of comparison is that?

Something’s not right here.

how I cook

I love it when Terry tries a new recipe. She follows it precisely and it normally turns out marvelous.

I’ve lost that patience. We have a bunch of cookbooks and there are a couple of hundred recipes in our kitchen mini netbook. So what do I do?

I play it like the improv theater group I loved so much in college, Karma Pie. Last week we agreed that Wednesday would be pressure cooker chicken. The pressure cooker is my thing. I pulled out one of my pressure cooker cookbooks, saw a recipe that included chicken, lentils, and spinach, and said to myself, “that works!” I put away the cookbook and did my own thing. (Like, so sixties, man!)

It turned our well and Terry loved it. It would have been different had I followed the recipe exactly, but for a weeknight (OK, for me, for a weekend as well) it worked.

That seems to be the way I’m cooking these days.