A while back Diana Butler Bass was on a bit of a rant on Facebook, saying that Christian conservatives have taken both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. and made them into evangelicals. She threatened to write about Jonathan Edwards and turn him into a “a liberal, emergence inclusivist.”
To this, one commenter simply wrote:
“Sinners in the Hands of a Loving Universalist God”
Diana responded to that saying that she was laughing so hard she could hardly type. I have something of the Universalist in me (yes, I know, but what about Hitler), so the twist on the Edwards sermon title gave me a big smile too.
I’ve never been able to track this down, but I remember reading in one of Madeleine L’Engle’s books of essays words to the effect of “I am not a Universalist, but I don’t believe God would condemn anyone to hell.” That doesn’t exactly make sense (how would she then not be a Universalist), but for many of us there is something about a loving God that would condemn people to hell that doesn’t make sense either.
We simply continue to ask the questions.
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Te Deum. The National Service of Thanksgiving to Celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul’s Cathedral, Tuesday 5th June 2012.
When I was very young I wanted to have a big sister. I was envious of the boys my age who had one to look out for them. I thought I was missing something. Having a big sister was something that even showed up in my dreams once or twice.
Today, as an adult, I have two sisters. True, they’re sisters-in-law and they both are a year younger than me. Close enough. They’re both great people. I got my sister-in-law Bobbie when she married my brother Brian in the late 1980’s. I got my sister-in-law Julie when I married Terry in 1994.
I’m fortunate that they are part of my family.
As a Christian, I have no interest in converting anyone. But I hope that I will continue to be converted.
On the top of my list of things that annoy me about much of Christianity is the need to convert. One of the things I like about the Episcopal Church is there is no pressing need to convert the non-Christian.
I like this quote by Diana Butler Bass because not only does it reflect such an approach to Christianity, but because in saying, “I hope that I will continue to be converted,” she emphasizes the importance of our own ongoing spiritual unfoldment.
Those are both Good Things in my mind.
I realize, of course, that I never mentioned in the first place that Terry might be having surgery. Here’s what’s happened.
Terry’s knee had been bothering her for a while. This was nothing new. She had had clean-up surgery four years ago. But it was getting worse again. She discussed this with her primary care physician on her regular visit, and the doctor agreed to order physical therapy. The physical therapist told Terry that there was a lot going on there and she really needed to get a MRI done. Terry got her doctor to order the MRI and it came back with ten different things that the radiologist had seen. The physical therapist said “start wrapping your mind around the idea that you’ll be having surgery.” Terry went over the results with her doctor, who sent the report to Terry’s orthopedist who had done the surgery before.
The orthopedist looked at the MRI report and gave Terry’s knee a close examination. He said the knee was generally solid and that he wasn’t sure that surgery would buy very much. He ordered an x-ray. The results of that showed a lot of arthritis. The orthopedist suggested a cortisone shot to see how much that helped. Terry had that the day after Memorial Day and now says her knee is feeling much better.
A whole lot better than surgery again.
This cartoon was making the rounds with my Episcopal friends on Facebook the week before Pentecost. I love it because it is so accurate. The Episcopal Church does have a vocabulary of its own.
My favorite Episcopal term is: Canon to the Ordinary.
The glossary at Trinity Episcopal in North Scituate, RI, defines Canon, in addition to its ecclesiastical law meaning, as “a member of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral or of a bishop.” Canon to the Ordinary is defined as:
A canon who is specific to the Bishop’s office; a staff officer who performs tasks as assigned by the Ordinary or Diocesan Bishop.
I learned the term very early on in my Episcopal life, as the former rector at All Saints’ Palo Alto went on to become Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of El Camino Real.
When I first heard the term I thought it meant Canon to the rank of file members of the diocese, you know, the ordinary folk. In fact, Ordinary, as the above definition makes clear, means “the one who is ordained,” that is, the bishop.
Ya gotta learn these things.