Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's Easy

No doubt it's "not that easy" but so far I've been quite happy with my return to the grain free world of neo-paleo-pseudo-low-carbism.  :-)  Since hitting just over 200 pounds on Saturday morning I have not eaten any grains, no bread, no pasta, no chips, no rice and even no taters.  As of today the scale cheerfully informed me that my weight is now 195 pounds.  What am I eating?  Meat, vegetables and dairy with some fruit thrown in for good measure.  So, it's not really "low-carb" and it's not really "Paleo" but just eating food, whatever I want and as much as I want but skipping those addictive grains!  The only glitch comes when someone wants to be nice and feed me pasta or pizza or something, please don't do it!

On a completely unrelated note, I've been using the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer for a little while now.  I have three apps on my phone for the Office, one Lutheran called Pray Now that is based on the Treasury of Daily Prayer, one Catholic called Universalis based on the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours and now The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare which is from the Book of Common Prayer.  They are all good but I tend to want to use the office that is connected to the church I'm going to.  I have a physical copy of the Treasury of Daily Prayer and I used to have a small pocket sized edition of the Book of Common Prayer but got rid of back when I abandoned the Episcopal "Church" when they stopped being an actual Christian denomination.  Now that I'm back being Anglican I am back to using the BOC, which I must say I always did prefer to the others.  Since the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is working on a revision of the Book of Common Prayer I'm going to hold off on buying a physical copy until they complete that job.

Here is a photo of the Mission of St. Clare, a virtual reality mission... :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

An Ode to BART

how do I loathe thee?
I loathe thy noisy trains,
so loud I cannot think.
I loathe thy overly fragrant passengers,
both those who never bathe,
and those who bathe in cheap perfume.
I loathe thy decaying stations,
I loathe thy brutal cops,
I loathe thy disintegrating tracks,
and thy rickety cars, 
and the way they combine to cause delays,
each and every day. 
I loathe the crowding on cars,
the criminals who lurk,
I loathe the urine soaked stairwells to the streets.

Yeah, I think I'll drive.  
I know, it's not really poetry, but neither is riding on BART.


I was going to call this post "Moderation" but as I began to write I realized that moderation is not actually the problem I mean to address today.  I started out explaining how moderation was a good thing but that I was not good at "doing moderation."  But that's not actually true.  In some things I'm quite moderate.  I'm moderate in drinking wine for example, outside of the rare times when I may overindulge I usually have no more than two glasses in a day.  Other things I used to allow to get out of hand I've moderated.  I once was quite out of control on Facebook, checking it all through the day and feeling uncomfortable if I didn't check for a couple of hours.  After a few "fasts" from that I find it is not so difficult to moderate.  Online games, especially Civilization, were once a problem, yet now I am able to play for a while and then put it aside to do other things without the feeling of "one more turn" that used to afflict me.

So what am I going about here then?  I'm getting ready to talk about my uncontrolled bread addiction!  Is that crazy or what?

Yes, I am addicted to carbs, especially in the form of good high gluten bread!  Yum!  Isn't that just the best stuff you ever tasted?  Indeed it is wonderful.  The problem is, no matter how hard I try to moderate my eating of these foods, bread and pasta and chips and so on, I cannot stop.  I eat until I'm full, and then I eat some more, wait a little while, fart once or twice and start in again.  I am now convinced this is the one area where I'm not going to be able to be moderate, just like tobacco I need to cut it out of my life totally.  When I was quitting smoking I quit for a year and decided I could have "just one smoke" once in a while.  So I had a smoke.  Then didn't have one for few days and had another.  "See?" I told myself, "you can do this in moderation, no problem!"  So I had a couple a day, then 6 or 7 a day and then I was back to my pack a day addiction within a month or so. Same with bread.  I know I ought not to eat it because I have symptoms that are uncomfortable when I eat it, the bloating and constant gas and painful cramps are tolerable though, if I get to eat bread and pizza.  The painful joints, swollen and arthritic elbows and knees and fingers that weren't that way while I was avoiding all gluten and grains carefully, that's OK too, as long as I can have pizza and warm french rolls slathered in butter... 

Yeah, it's crazy all right.  The thing that has slapped me in the face recently though is the fact that since I decided I could go off of  my restricted diet I have gained 15 pounds!  That is rapid weight gain, and it's all attributable to the uncontrollable urge to pound carbs.  I've read in numerous places that carbs like breads are especially addictive, physically addictive and not just for the emotional gratification of eating yummy foods.  I was going to link to some of the articles but if you want to find out about it just do a search on bread or carb addiction and you'll find all sorts of information. I'll give you one right here though

So, is Pizza worth increased joint pain?  Worth bloating and gas?  Worth cramps and pain in the guts? Worth becoming obese?  Worth reducing my portions carefully and suffering constant pangs of desire for more?  YES!   I mean no, not really.  

Suddenly it has become clear to me that this is not just a simple matter of wanting a sandwich because it's tasty and easy to prepare and eat.  Not just a matter of liking the taste of pizza, which I really do of course.  No, it's worse than that, it's just like the cigarettes, I know it's killing me and I don't even care when I'm in the act of getting my fix, my pizza or my rolls or my two big sandwiches... I just don't care what it's doing to me, I have to have it, and then I have to have more.

This is an addiction for sure.  It's not something I can moderate, God knows I've tried that enough times to know better.  Add to that the fact that I started up on it again in spite of it causing me actually physical ...

So, it's time to quit cold turkey I suppose, it hurts too much to continue this way.  I ask any who know me not to mock me or argue with me or tell me just to be moderate, it is not going to happen that way.  My scale does not lie, it hit 200 this morning, up from 185 when I decided I could be "moderate" a few weeks ago.  I've been munching Naproxen Sodium and Ibuprofen and Aspirin like candy and still can hardly pick up my coffee cup.  I'm practically jet propelled when I walk down the street... this is insane.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Quid est veritas?

Of course the answer to the question in my title is Jesus Christ, for he is the way and the truth and the life.  Naturally we can't just leave it at that though.  No we start asking all sorts of questions and trying figure out "what does this mean?"

In my last post I quoted a Lutheran pastor who was explaining that Lutherans are less tolerant of "heresy" than Anglicans, especially when it comes to those who publicly teach or preach.  As a layman I imagine I could quietly sit back and not speak out about the things I believe that are condemned in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, or even speak about them in an unofficial manner, and I wouldn't be tossed out on my ear for the heretical notions I hold :-)

I stumbled across the story of Matthew Becker the other day in my reading on line as I sought to clarify my thinking on the reasons I don't really fit in with the LCMS.  Of course, as I stated before, if I didn't live so far from Messiah Danville I would most likely have just kept my thoughts to myself and stayed put, after all it is a place where you will hear the Gospel preached, Christ and Him crucified for us, and where the sacraments are administered properly and where the liturgy is reverent and follows the pattern of the ancient church... but they are part of the LCMS and that organization has added things to the gospel that are not essential, and have made them markers of a "true Christian."  Witness Matthew Becker, tossed out of the LCMS for teaching things that I believe to be true.  Oops.

Here is a quote from a blog post of his called Less Room in the LCMS that neatly summarizes what I'm about here:

 Just to be clear:
(1) I hold that "inerrancy" is not a helpful category for understanding the nature of biblical authority. Even Martin Luther, back in the sixteenth century, acknowledged that there are "errors" in Scripture.

(2) I am convinced that the Scriptures do not clearly prohibit women from serving in the pastoral office today.

(3) I do not reject predictive prophecy. The biblical prophets made prophetic-predictive statements about the future, including the future age of the Messiah, but this fact does not mean that the prophets saw directly and clearly to Jesus of Nazareth and made their predictions based on that vision. Direct prophecies are rare in the OT. More common are typical prophecies. These have an immediate meaning for their own day and an ultimate meaning that points toward the Messianic Age. God always has a way of surpassing biblical prophecies in unexpected ways.

(4) The genres in the early chapters of Genesis do not fit with the literary form of "historical report." The literal contradictions between the two creation accounts in Gen 1-3 are sufficient to push us in a different direction. The history of the exegesis of these chapters--beyond American Protestant Fundamentalism and its inroads in the LCMS--also helps to steer us away from interpretive dead ends. Finally, basic data discovered within the disciplines of the natural sciences also helps us to avoid literalistic, simplistic interpretations that are just plain wrong-headed and theologically unfruitful.

If I were a teacher or preacher in the LCMS I'd have been out on my ear along with Matthew Becker.  Though at one time I agreed women ought not to be pastors when I read the actual bible verses that are used to teach that I've never found them convincing, and only tradition remained to "forbid" such a thing.  Of course taking Genesis literally I have spoken of before, if you are suspected of not being a real Christian because you actually dare to believe your own eyes and the evidence of the world right there in front of you as opposed to buying into a patently ridiculous 19th century reinterpretation of Genesis... well so be it :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mary Magdalene


Today is the commemoration of Mary Magdalene, who was chosen to be the first witness of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  I've heard it said that this is a good indication of the historicity of the gospels since in that day she would be the last person you would choose as a witness because women were not considered good witnesses. This commemoration is today for all three of the church bodies I "identify" with, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican :-)

I've been trying for a while now to come to grips with the differences between these three bodies of Christians and understand why they seem to be so angry with each other.  I can't seem to sort it out, the differences seem to me minute and unimportant when compared to those things that are truly important, such as we are sinners and are saved by the life death and resurrection of Jesus, who is true man and true God.  There is basic agreement on baptism and the Eucharist as well, though they will parse things and define things down to the point where they all declare each other heretics.  Today I came across this on Worldview Everlasting, Jonathan Fisk's site: 

To my mind, the short of it will revolve around the matter of what we call “fellowship,” or, “how far do you let the heretics go before you kick them out or you leave.” Anglicanism has a greater tolerance for diversity in theology than Lutherans believe is biblically acceptable.

That sounds about right to me, and it turns out that I personally am quite comfortable with lots of diversity as long as the very basic stuff, such as C.S. Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity, is agreed to.  The "extra" detail is nice but shouldn't be allowed to divide us.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Round and round we go

For a long time I've been trying to figure out a way that our entire family can worship together.  We live about 40 miles from Messiah Lutheran Church in Danville where we've been members for a long time. This is a very long ride with small children and surly teens and it takes two cars to get us all there.  Mostly Lora is broke and doesn't have enough gas to make the trip anyway and the kids are pretty resistant to getting out of bed early enough to make the 45 minute trip to church.  One of the big reasons I loved the Catholic Church was the fact they seem to be pretty much everywhere within a short drive no matter where we lived. 

We tried St. Paul's LCMS in Tracy - barf.  We also tried Good Shepherd LCMS in Livermore, a bit better but still a weak liturgy and it's still a big drive over the hill.  Mom went with me to St. Bernard's Catholic Church here in Tracy last week, but she really doesn't like that at all and disagrees very strongly with such things as praying to saints and Mary.  To tell the truth I've never been comfortable with that myself, though I tried to make it work in my head, if you know what I mean.

Well, I think we've found our solution finally.  Before I came to Messiah I had been going to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek for years, and to Grace Cathedral before that when I still lived in the city with my Grandmother, it was only when I realized that the Episcopal Church had gone off of the rails and could hardly be called Christian any longer that I began looking for a new church home.  I love Messiah, and I'm sorry we are so far away that it won't work long term for us. I have gone back and forth from Catholic to Lutheran as a result.  Recently though I have discovered that there is a break away branch of the Episcopal Church called the Anglican Church in North America which is a faithful Anglican Church, unlike the ECUSA, and even more to the point there is a tiny branch church here in Tracy, Anglican Church of the Resurrection, pastored by Father Dondi, a Kenyan priest.  Liturgically and also theologically I am very comfortable with the church, I downloaded and read their provisional catechism and found nothing I didn't agree with.  Serenity's half brother and sister are used to the Episcopal Church so they understand it as well.  I think it's the right thing for us to do, we need to be associated with a community that is close enough to us that we can actually all make it there.  The whole family will probably go next week, Mom, Max and I went this week and we found the small gathering very welcoming.  I'm excited by this to say the least :-)

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Country

So much horrible news is out in the world these days, mostly caused by "my" government, which makes it just that much worse in my mind.  The worst is the absolute glee with which total evil is greeted by so many people.  It seems to me that the more perverted and disgusting a practice is the more it is celebrated.  From same-sex so-called "marriage" and abortion on the left to endless wars and torture and murder of innocents for the greater glory of corporate America on the right, it's all evil.  How has this come about? I don't have an answer to that, any I might give would be speculation.  But you know, it should not be a shock.  Mankind was created good, but we have fallen.

That said, I don't suppose I really need to even pay all that much attention to the course of America, after all, as The Dissident Dad points out, my family is my country.   I follow those laws of America that I'm forced to follow by immediate threat and also those that make good sense to me, in other words, I do what I would do if there was no law in the first place.  Every bit of my loyalty is to God first, then my family, then my neighbors.  I have nothing left for any government.  The only thing I have to do with government is pointing out the lies it tells, and most everything they tell you is a lie.

It is time for me, and my family if they are willing, to start seriously working on separation from the state... this will take some planning and some hard work and hard choices, but I know it can be done because I've seen others do it.  We've been suckered into this consumerist culture but it's time to escape.  Life is not best spent accumulating "stuff" but experiences, shared experiences with those we care about and love.  That really doesn't take much money.  I am pretty sure we're doing it wrong guys, it's time to rethink the way we live, and probably where we live as well.

Life is good, and it's going to get better, if we decide to make it so.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

On the Eucharist

Because I know everyone cares deeply about the random fluctuations that shoot through the neurons of my brain I write again...

I'm working today, on a Sunday.  This caused me much anxiety as I tried to figure out how I was going to manage to make it mass and still get to work on time.

I could have driven my car into The City and gone to the 7:30 mass at Sts. Peter and Paul, which is a lovely church, but the mass at that hour there is pretty weak in my experience, plus I've developed an aversion to driving in San Francisco again.  I don't know what caused that, a month ago I thought driving to The City was wonderful, I actually LIKED it.  Now I can't imagine a worse fate.

I could have tried to go to 11:00 mass at the Shrine of St. Francis in The City, which is where I go to daily mass on my work days, but that would have used up my whole lunch and more since a Sunday mass is longer than a daily mass, it didn't feel like the right way to do things.

I didn't want to go to mass on Saturday evening because Lora was fixing a nice dinner and I didn't want to be late.  Whatever was I going to do?

I looked around for an early mass I could get to and still make the 8:01am train from Dublin into The City to get to work on time.  Finally noticed that St. Michael's in Livermore has a 6:45am mass, I could go to that and make the train!  Woo hoo.  I always enjoyed St. Michael's anyway, it's a more traditional church than most and I like that a lot.  Plus they have a cool statue of St. Michael the Archangel depicted as a medieval knight standing to the side of the sanctuary, you can't really see it in this picture but it's there on the right :-)
So I went there this morning and I'm glad I did.  The next time I have to work on a Sunday I'm going to do the same thing for sure.

One more random thing from my brain.

I've been reading a book called Mere Catholicism by Ian Ker.  Pretty good stuff.  Of course it's inspired by CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, which is a classic apologetic work.  Ker's book is pretty good but not quite up to the level of Lewis' I don't think.  Lewis had a way of condensing confusing and complicated ideas into understandable forms.  Ker does the same thing but not quite as smoothly.

In the chapter on the Eucharist, The Meal of All Meals, is this "Because they not only hang on His words but actually live off His body in the Eucharist, they can be said to form the "Body of Christ" in more than a figurative sense.  When, therefore, in the Eucharist they offer up the Body of Christ in sacrifice, they also inevitably at the same time are offering up themselves since they are the body of Christ."  I like the way he put that, I've had that same thought before, as we consume the body of Christ we come closer together with each other than ever as the Body of Christ, we are what we consume.  We are what we eat.

Well, that's it for today's random thoughts, I have to go now.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Commuting and anger

I had an interesting commute this morning.  I checked the status of the trains and I checked the traffic before I left the house at 4:35am.  At 4:39am a BART train caught on fire, resulting in the closure of 5 east bay stations and cutting off Dublin from San Francisco.  I didn't know that until I got to the BART station though, so I wasted time walking into the station, only to find "you can't get there from here" being broadcast.  I only had enough gas to do a round trip from Dublin to Tracy, not to SF, so I had to get gas, then I got caught up in extra heavy traffic at the Bay Bridge as thousands of my fellow BART riders tried to get across the Bay.

In times past I know I would have been all upset and angry and bent out of shape, muttering and cursing BART and the rotten drivers on the road.  Today it was pretty minimal, for me :-)  The most annoying thing is that it's costing me an extra $10 to be at work today between bridge toll and parking.  That's a lunch!

This Angry Gnome has been working pretty hard on not being so Angry, and with the help of the Holy Spirit things are starting to look better on that front.  I have long had a problem with blurting out the first thing that comes into my head, especially when I'm running into problems, like a commute delay or something at work not going the way it is supposed to go.  That's not good because the first thing that comes into my head is usually curses and foul language and condemnation of whoever I imagine to be at fault for my difficulties at the time.  Recently I've begun trying to simply take a breath and not react out loud for a few moments.  At first it didn't work, but with prayer and paying attention to what's really going on around me it's gradually gotten better.

I have no idea if this is noticeable to anyone who is not living inside my head, but it sure is obvious to me :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy July 5th!

I love the 5th of July, because it's not the 4th of July.  I am very glad that the 4th is behind us now, with the constant barrage of fireworks for several days accompanied by over the top hyper-patriotism expressed virtually everywhere.

 In my eyes there is very little to celebrate on the 4th of July.  What really happened? A revolt by rich slave owners against their rightful ruler in plain violation of Romans 13, resulting, as do most all violent revolts, in an even more oppressive government ruling the land.

What were the actual results of the revolution?

Very quickly after the end of the war the rich held a secret conclave to replace the government that had fought the revolution with a centralized state, without bothering to ask the people who had actually fought if they even wanted it.

Slavery was enshrined in that constitution as a permanent institution protected by the might of the Federal government.

Genocide was carried out against the native peoples of North America.

Taxation, which had been one of the supposed reasons for the revolt, went through the roof.

Eventually it turned into what it is today, a violent empire that girdles the globe murdering and destroying everywhere, even in its own land.  Yeah, I'm glad that ridiculous celebration is over with for this year.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Little things

At times the Lord does little things to let me know He's still in charge of everything. Today the rent was due and I was a bit short on the full amount.  I was waiting on my daughter Lora and son-in-law J.D. to pay their portion but he had not been paid by his boss so he did not have the money to give to me.  So when I got up in the morning today I prayed "Lord, I don't know how you are going to do it but you told us to pray for our daily bread.  It would really be great if you could manage to get me the rent money today."  Then I wrote out the rent check, put it by the front door for the landlord and got ready to come into work.  On my way out the door I looked down at a pile of sandals that was in front of the shelf placed by the door to hold them. Slightly annoyed by the fact they were on the floor and not on the shelf I poked at the pile of sandals with my foot, trying to shove them into the bottom shelf and off of the floor.  As I did that I noticed a white envelope face down on the floor next to the shelf.  I wondered what it was and picked it up, and the front said "Rent" and inside was the rent money :-)  Somehow Lora and J.D. had gotten the rent together after I went to bed last night.  She didn't deliberately hide it, somehow the envelope had fallen to the floor.   Not a huge miracle, but just a little thing...

Thomas, Patron Saint of Skeptics and Scientists

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, known to us mostly as "Doubting Thomas."  I've always admired Thomas, he demanded proof for his belief.  He wasn't going to take the word of others for something as strange as someone coming back from the dead!  I think Thomas must be the patron saint of skeptics.  Since I'm a hopeless skeptic, he's my guy :-)  But he really gets a bad rap because the other apostles didn't believe until they had seen either.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shutting up, sort of.

If I was still on Facebook I would have posted a half dozen or so times today.  I saw a news story about the unemployment rate dropping, which is a lie of course, it's all smoke and mirrors as anyone who pays attention to the way they come up with these numbers knows.  Then I saw a story about a San Francisco park that was totally trashed during the "Pride" celebration last week.  I would have commented about that too, something about the sort of people who celebrate that sort of thing not caring much about anything but their own immediate pleasure or something.  Then I'd have made a point of mentioning that is was really hot this morning when I got up in Tracy at 4am today, 85 degrees and it even rained a little, not enough to make things actually wet but enough to turn dust into mud on the windows of my car.

But I'm not on Facebook so I didn't post about all of that stuff in the heat of the moment, but I mention it all now because I realized, when I thought about how nice it was not to bother with things I can do nothing about, that keeping my mouth shut is sometimes a good thing.  I'm sure I'd have had some people "liking" my snarky comments and others being mildly offended by them.  I'm also certain I'd have seen dozens of over the top political posts claiming Obama is somehow the worst president ever, seems to me every president is worse than the previous one actually.

All in all I'm very glad not to be on Facebook, what a waste of time.  I have a friend who is on Facebook who seems to have no problem ignoring it for the most part.  I can't manage that, I MUST inform people when they are wrong :-)  I must share every little thought that comes my way, and every amusing post I see gets shared... that's why it's better for me to just ignore the thing.

You know what I did today during the time in the afternoon when it got really quiet here at work and I would normally have gone on Facebook?  I read the bible for a while and then wrote this post.  A much more satisfying use of my time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Matthew 25:40

Sometimes as I walk past the homeless sitting on the street in San Francisco, I do see the Lord... not often enough, but sometimes... just stopping and talking for a moment can be important I think, letting them know they are seen and that I care.