The Gambler

I’ve always liked this song. Pedestrian and cliché, yes, I suppose. But to me also practical advice on living life.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done

in support of our U.S. Catholic nuns

On Monday I wrote about my perspective on and respect for the Catholic faith. I made a brief mention of the U.S. Catholic nuns and their battle with the Vatican. If you’re not aware of what is going on, the Vatican has accused the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), to which the vast majority of U.S. Catholic nuns belong, of not properly adhering to church teaching. The LCWR insists that the Vatican is misinterpreting their words and actions. A meeting between the LCWR and representatives of the Vatican on 18 June did not go well.

One of my all time great heroines in the world of religion and spirituality is Sister Joan Chittister, who lucidly and energetically articulated the position of women religious in the U.S. in a superb interview with Christiane Amanpour. If you didn’t see this when I posted it on Facebook, do watch. It’s great.

Meanwhile, a group of nuns is touring the country by bus to protest the cuts to services for the poor in the budget that came out of the U.S. House of Representatives. Bill Moyers has two members of his team on board. Read the introduction and the ongoing blog chronicling the trip.

To all of those dedicated women I say thank you, and please, keep fighting the good fight!

conversion is a living process

I wrote yesterday about the Catholic perspective as described by a recent convert, Julia Smucker. One the points she made is that conversion is a living process. She says:

What Catholics might call the “conversion process” is similar to what some of the Mennonite circles I grew up in, and still deeply appreciate, would call the “faith journey.” To tell of my conversion would be to tell of my whole life.

and then goes on to say:

I’m grateful that I wasn’t required to pinpoint one “conversion moment.” For us it’s not about one decisive moment when you “get saved” so that you can someday go to heaven, but about being in the process of being saved so that, to borrow phrasing from my days in RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults], your whole life is God getting you in shape to “do heaven” – because “heaven isn’t just a place you go, it’s something you do.”

Oh yes! That is one of the things, probably the main thing, that made me crazy about the church of my high school days. I always hated the altar call, and was never prepared in one specific moment to give my life to Christ. I hated the pressure that you were supposed to have that one moment of conversion.

That’s not what it’s about. It is a process. It is a lifelong journey. And like the Catholics, the Episcopalians take the same view. One reason among many that I am where I am today.

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.