Tuesday, June 28, 2005

God and Country

Last night on The Daily Show was Hanna Rosin, talking about her article, GOD AND COUNTRY, in the New Yorker. Made me want to read it, and it's online already.

This is a great article about a slice of conservative evangelical life -- and of the money and effort being put into education of potential religious right politicians ... and their wives.

To market to market to buy a fat pig

We left on Saturday June 18 to visit Rebecca's uncles - Stan and Ken - in Roncevert West Virginia. If you're a person of significant means, a golfer, or a person whose family provides hotel and maintenance services, you may recognize the area as the town next to The GreenBriar. Regular people aren't allowed in anymore, they cite security concerns, but Stan and Ken got themselves invited to a reception and sales pitch for the new homes they are putting up there.

Stan is an elderly grumpily man whose filters have gone and his catty asides are a little too loud. But he has a heart of gold. When we told them we were getting married, he said, "Well, I think anyone's a fool to get married. I never did, and look how much good that did me."

Ken's the sweetest, most kind man in the world (with the exception of my father). It was nice to talk about religion, beliefs, and church culture. As DRE, my responsiblity is to provide access to accurate experiences and information about many religious ideas and spiritual paths, not to promulgate or even much discuss my own. So this was a nice end of the RE-year for me. It wasn't GA, but then, I was too fried for GA. Crispy crunchy.

Ken attended Union Theological Seminary in the late 40's. He studied under Paul Tillich (theology) and Reinhold Neibuhr (ethics).
I was there in the late 80's/early 90's, studying under Beverly Harrison (ethics), Phyllis Trible (Hebrew Scriptures) and Jim Washington and Dick Norris (Christian Church History). We enjoyed swapping stories of student unrest, frustration, and faculty open houses.
I especially enjoyed hearing about the ways that the Seminary experience is timeless.
He was happy for me that the upper room above the Refectory was turned into a pub during my years. I was happy for him that he was able to hang out with Paul Tillich and other students and wine.

We had a delightful time talking about church politics.
Ken was a minister for only a brief time, then he began to build houses. He said that constructing a building was the kind of concrete creation he needed after his service in WWII. He showed off his purple heart and silver star, and, unlike my relatives, told us how he got them.

He earned them.

Once he stopped preaching, he and his wife had attended two different churches. Ken preferred to end the hard working week of a carpenter by sitting quietly with piety, decorum and a sparce, simple liturgy.
His wife preferred to attend one that was a joyful boisterous community response as a topping on the drudgery of the week.
He was amazed that Unitarian Universalist congregations have people who desire both within the confines of the same worship hall.

So am I, I said, It's challenging. Is the Service of the Living Tradition intended to be a boisterous celebration or quiet reflective time? Depends who you ask, and who gets to their email first to tell you that it was wrong or right. (Why is is that people are faster to send off angry 'you were wrong' emails than happy 'thanks, that was great' emails?) (And if you can answer that, it may lend some insight into why I post more on crankycindy than here.)

He played for us. A brilliant jazz keyboardist, he played and played, and showed of his new grand piano. His wife had made him contain his musical instruments in the organ room (previously knows as the garage), and his organs and stand up piano and electronic keyboards were crammed in there side by side elbow to elbow. She's gone, and although he's changed next to nothing in the house since her passing years ago, he did decide that a grand piano in the family room (previously known as the breezeway) would be ok. The other large space takers in the room were the unused hot tub, and a ton of an exercise machine from Sears in in the 60's that was supposed to exercise for you after you strapped yourself on and turned the switch.

But I digress, 'cause he can play. His face gets a glow, his jaw goes slack, and his eyes are unseeing while he plays. I'd fall asleep at night to the sound of his playing at the other end of the house. No bedtime tv was needed to quiet my spinning brain, he'd play and I'd be transported to somewhere in the same neighborhood as his own mind.

When we left, he was fixing the ceiling above the piano, trying to create better acoustics. We drove past the house and he blew us kisses until we were down the hill.

Home again home again jiggity jig.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Faith, in Service of our Living Tradition

Thomas Groome describes faith like this:
A lifelong developmental process involving the total person that addresses issues of ultimate concern, such as the meaning of life and death, the nature of being, the existence and nature of Deity, and the like.

I particularly appreciate the "and the like" bit. Lately, the "and the like" has been the nature of nature; of suffering, of the vast complexity that is the precious innocence of children and their capacity to love and laugh and live in the present. The ability to look to and believe in the future regardless of the condition of their present.

Thank you all for your participation in the 24 hour vigil, whether you were here in the Great Hall or away privately lighting candles and meditating or praying. It was an amazing experience for all, and a developmental moment for me about the nature of humans being present one with another.

Gwen is home, and I believe that It Mattered that we were all paying such close attention to her well being for those hours.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

24 Hours for Gwen update

Kim posted on her site:
Gwen's back in PICU at Bay State. She had the GJ tube placed yesterday. The procedure was long but in the end worked. Unfortunately, she couldn't wake up from the sedation for hours and hours except to throw up. She has been throwing up since then and spiked a temp last night.

She woke up around 3 am, and is more alert now.

Thanks to those of you who have called to check on today's event, but neither hail nor sleet nor...

We're on.

Abby came in this morning and set up the worship table with me the way she wanted it, decided that we also need to use our regular Joys and Concerns Table for candles as well.
She'd decorated with some pictures of Gwen and herself on that table and the information table in the Parlor.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

24 hours for Gwen - childcare and cake update

Everyone of every age, every religious or spiritual path, and of any age is welcome to meditate/pray in the Great Hall. We are providing child care as a convenience. Children are especially welcome to send healing and loving energy to Gwen and her family.
Please make sure that you and your children sign the Guest Book, which will be in the Great Hall before you leave.

We have hired 3 high school/college students to provide us with child care from 9 am - 2 pm. You are welcome to leave your children with the child care providers while you meditate/pray or speak with Kim and Sue. You are also welcome to have your children join you in the Great Hall for lighting of candles etc. This is intended to be a completely intergenerational event.

If you want to leave your children with the child care providers while you are here (they can be identified by their rainbow nametags,) please personally escort your children down into the Social Room. Please remind them that we share, we keep our hands on our own bodies, and our feet on the floor. There will be art activities available, and a movie/cartoon playing in one side room.

Please assess the number of children and activity level and use your best judgment about integrating them into an activity, and check on them often.
Please make sure that everyone has a name tag on them with their name in block letters.

I will be gathering all children together at about 1:30 to have a couple of words about how incredible Gwen is, and how much we love her and Abby, and how communities come together at different times and pay attention to different people. This will be our day to pay close attention to how much we love and support Gwen and Abby and their moms. Then we'll have cake in a picnic on the floor. If you have a child that is particularly exhuberant, please accompany them to the party.

We will not have the staffing attention to deal with cake/soda/sugar/allergy issues, so please monitor your child.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Coming of Age Credo Service is the Best Ever

I'm late for something, so I can't dawdle, but listen to this
(and I'll replace it with exact quotes when I read the written version)

Animals leave their young to die, humans don’t, and look whose at the top of the evolutionary ladder. This proves that “Compassion trumps evolution.”
I love our 8th graders. I love my job. I have to go now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

24 Hours for Gwen Schedule cont.

Please bring unscented candles: if possible, long burning ones. We are going to leave all candles burning on the worship table for the duration and into the Service of the Living Tradition on Sunday Morning where it will be incorporated into the Joys and Concerns.

The full schedule is below.