Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Via Media

As I mentioned not too long ago on this blog I've returned to the Anglican Church after a long time away during which time I drifted through Lutheranism, Catholicism and atheism.  This return was made possible by the emergence in recent years, without me noticing until now, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as an alternative to the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) which is no longer really a Christian denomination as far as I can tell, except in certain pockets of stubborn congregations here and there.

Truly, I would never have left the Anglican Church if i had known this group was being formed.  I had called myself an "Anglo-Catholic" for a number of years.  I loved the idea of the Anglicans being the "middle-way" between Catholicism and Protestantism.  While confessional Lutheranism is sort of in the same place, a middle place, they generally don't have bishops, and are lacking in apostolic succession in the way Anglicans have it, by actual bishops who were ordained by previous bishops all the way back to the apostles.  I think this is a good thing, a continuity with the early church in an unbroken line.  Of course the Roman Catholic Church no longer recognizes the bishops of the Anglican Communion, but that's just them being all bossy.  If you don't obey the Bishop of Rome you can't play in our sandbox.  Bleh.

It seems to me that a traditional Anglo-Catholic church is by far the best place to be.  If only I had known they still existed for the last dozen years or so life would have been so much simpler.  Well, it's good to be back.

I'm reading a book called "The Anglican Way: A Guidebook" and there is a section there that describes the Via Media:  "...this Latin term means "the middle way."  The Anglican Way lives at the center rather than the extremes.  We have learned that it's impossible to be radical about more than one thing.  We don't desire to be radical about politics, traditions, ideas, or even religion.  We just want to be radical about the only thing worth being radical about: the amazing love of God in Christ."

I'm sure those who know me are snickering about the statement that "it's impossible to be radical about more than one thing" coming from me.  I am known to be extreme and radical about most everything.  But hey, things could change, right?  (Ha Ha!)

Here is where we are living out the middle way:

Anglican Church of the Resurrection, Tracy CA



Friday, August 21, 2015

Why?

Because I need and want to spend all of my time with these guys!



I want to spend time working on projects with my grandsons, digging in the vegetable garden, building a house, building forts and taking care of chickens and maybe goats, who knows?  :-)  I want to be around every day, not banished to a distant city for no real reason.

That's why.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Simple Living

Same basic subject on a different day.

I'm ready to move on into a phase of Radical Simplification in my life.  Getting rid of the clutter and junk that weighs me down so much.  Oh wait, I already did that!  It's OTHER PEOPLE'S clutter and junk that is weighing me down.

When I look around our house I see large stacks of... stuff.  Most of it buried deeply beneath layers of other stuff for months on end, proving that it is neither needed nor really wanted.  The thing is I can't force others to unload all of this crap, trying to do so just makes me come off as nagging and grouchy.  I'm not even going to try actually, but in the process of deciding to move away from the concrete and stench of the city I think that will sort itself out :-)


If everyone wants to come along with me then they won't have that much choice but to get rid of most of the crud... or find a place for it themselves.  

Right now we're just doing it wrong!  A big house, bigger than I have ever lived in, full of people, that part is good :-)  But also full of JUNK!  That's not so good.  I'm looking at a much more compact living space for us all, mostly for cost reasons, but also aesthetic ones, a small simple space is much easier to keep clean and much cheaper to maintain in general.  

I've set a goal on this project.  I want to be out of the city within 3 years.  In that time I need to find and purchase land, plan and begin constructing my tiny house and figure out if anyone is coming with me.  It's sort of fun to plan this in public, with the knowledge that no one is bothering to read it :-)  

I've been looking at land on line for the last couple of days, there is some out there really cheap, but of course it's cheap for good reasons usually :-)  Still, with aquaculture and gardening and things like composting toilets and solar power even fairly marginal land can work.  We'll see.  Could be it's all a pipe dream, but then if you know me you'll know I've gone off before with virtually nothing but a back pack and sleeping bag, I'm not tied to "stuff" at all.  Family, them I'm tied to, hope they see the wisdom in coming with me.  



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This aging hippie, angry gnome, is about ready to toddle off the grid.


Sure, civilization has it's attractions, computers and flush toilets and running water... but you know what, it's just not worth it anymore.  I keep waiting for the right time, but the time has never been right.  I think this is one of those things where you just have to step out and do it without all that much worrying about doing it just right.

What benefit are any of us in our household getting out of being in Tracy?  The ability to sit around like lumps watching Netflix on the TV?  Running the AC so we don't melt?  What is there in that house that we need?  What is there in any city that we need?  What is the point of spending every dollar we make to just to stay in one place?

My toes need to touch dirt, not pavement!  I need grass and trees and fresh air, not concrete, piss and the smell of car exhaust.  I need to spend my time with my daughter and granddaughter and grandsons, not wasting my time doing meaningless "work" here in San Francisco.

I'm thinking a couple or three "Tiny Houses" somewhere... or a couple of Yurts...



maybe some aquaponics for most of our food.  I don't care if it's on or off the grid, I don't care if there is internet access or not, none of those things are actually essential to comfort or happiness.  I've lived before with no running water, no electricity and no phone service, and I was HAPPY that way :-)

The good thing about this blog is no one, except mom (Hi Mom!) actually reads it, so I can say whatever I want, don't tell anyone mom...

Life is uncertain, I can't see the point of wasting half of the year away from those I love so much it hurts to be away from them!  I just can't do it anymore.  So, anyone have any suggestions as to how to get off of this stupid treadmill?  And fast?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Feeling restless


Make sure to start the video as a background to reading this post :-)

Not long ago I posted on FB that I've felt like running away more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.  That is so true.  Lately I've been thinking that this life is just wrong, I and all of my family with me are not where we ought to be.  I mean that in more than one way, but mostly I mean we are in a big house in a city and that sucks.  Also, I work in San Francisco, and I really hate that.  The city is sort of disgusting to tell the truth, in the moral sense, and in the olfactory sense.  It is crowded, noisy and unpleasant in every way.

I live too far from work and end up either sleep deprived or missing my family by staying in San Francisco day after day while I earn money to "live" in Tracy.  Tracy stinks as well, but at least that is honest cow manure and not the stench of human waste.  Even though I have a place to stay in San Francisco, due to the generosity of a good friend who lets me stay in her spare room, I really do not like not being at home.

What am I going to do about this?  I don't know yet but something needs to change, and fast.  Maybe we need to buy a plot of land somewhere and live a very simple life with less money and more home life.  I hesitate to bring it up to my family but you know what?  I'm the one who is paying for most everything now, and yet I'm not getting the benefit of it, being away most of the time while everyone else is living in "my" house 24-7.  This just isn't working for me.  As Eric Burdon and the Animals sang so long ago "We've gotta get out of this place!"


Heh, when I saw this I at first thought it said "Follow your heart" which is good, but I like it even better once I realized it says "Fallow".  Fallow land is land that is being allowed to rest and recover for a while.  I need to rest.  :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Criminalizing Homelessness?

A small homeless encampment at Division and Bryant streets beneath the highway overpass in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Photo: Connor Radnovich, The Chronicle

There is a recent statement by the Department of Justice that declares it is not constitutional to forbid people sleeping on the street.  This is one of those difficult issues for me.  I come down on both sides, the side that say we need to scrape these vermin off of the streets so normal human beings can walk the sidewalks in peace and without the revolting stench of urine and feces and without being accosted by mentally ill and drug crazed "homeless people" seeking money for their next drink or fix. On the other side I see that these people are suffering human beings whose lives have spun horribly out of control.  I see Jesus sitting by the side of the road, hungry, homeless and helpless and most of the time I turn from him in disgust and pass by on the other side.

I think part of the solution is actually less government interference in the problem.  Allow churches and organizations like Food Not Bombs to house and feed people without jumping through interminable hoops and piles of paperwork and fees.

http://sffnb.org/

I am convinced that in this, as in most every other problem society faces, government intervention makes things far worse than they would be if the people were allowed to seek solutions without interference from that grasping and controlling criminal gang called government.

God save me from Facebook!


What is the point of Facebook?  Some people use it well, they share a photo or two and that's that.  Others, like me, are constantly posting, well re-posting mostly, little cartoons or questionable quotes or whatever.  

Really?  What is the point of that?

It's not really communication at all, if I haven't written something original I haven't actually done much at all.  I know that when you see someone has "Liked" a post you put up you get a little shot of psychological reward, it's actually sort of addictive.  But it's really useless at the same time.

Facebook is not really a place of communication but of cheap rewards for minimal effort.  

No, I'm not leaving Facebook again.  That's pointless too, I always come back.  But what I am going to do is to make a big effort not to re-post things other people have written.  Not to post other people's cartoons and short quotes.  Instead I'm going to post things via my blog, and then put that onto Facebook.  If I can't be bothered to actually write a few sentences about a subject then really it just shows I don't have anything significant to say about it.

I seldom get any feedback from my blog posts, that's OK I guess.  It seems most people don't go beyond the initial little blurb on Facebook, even if you post a link to a story it seems most people just click "Like" without really bothering to read it.  

Facebook, all headlines, no content. 

Well, we'll see how this goes for me.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

'Til the Storm Passes By

This was the opening hymn for tonight's Evening Prayer from the Mission of St. Clare.  Sweet and just what I needed to hear tonight.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Saint Larry


Today, August 10th, is the commemoration of St. Lawrence, my "name Saint" as I think of him.  

From the Mission of St. Clare Morning Prayers for today:

The Commemoration

Laurence 10 August 258
Laurence (or Lawrence) was chief of the seven deacons of the congregation at Rome, the seven men who, like Stephen and his companions (Acts 6:1-6), were in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor. In 257, the emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. The bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy were executed on 7 August 258, and Laurence on the 10th. This much from the near-contemporary records of the Church.

The accounts recorded about a century later by Ambrose (commemorated on 7 Dec) and the poet Prudentius say that, as Sixtus was being led to his death, Laurence followed him, saying, "Will you go to heaven and leave me behind?" and that the bishop replied, "Be comforted, you will follow me in three days." They go on to say that the Roman prefect, knowing that Laurence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his disposal in the hands of trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation, presented them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church." The enraged prefect ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron. Laurence bore the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners at one time, "You may turn me over; I am done on this side." The spectacle of his courage made a great impression on the people of Rome, and made many converts, while greatly reducing among pagans the belief that Christianity was a socially undesirable movement that should be stamped out...

...Lawrence's emblem in art is (naturally) a gridiron.

Prayer
Almighty God, who called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
written by James Kiefer

The Parable of the Two Sons


I've seen a lot of conservative memes condemning the fact that the Obama administration has made a deal with Iran over their nuclear program.  They seem to think that the fact that people there chant anit-American slogans is significant somehow.  Whenever I hear people getting all upset about the fact that some Iranians have chanted "Death to America" I'm reminded of this parable by Jesus in Matthew:

Matthew 21:28-32
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

What I'm getting at is that mere words mean little compared to real actions.  Iranians chant "Death to America" but they haven't actually attacked the United States in any meaningful way.  Americans talk peace and freedom while bringing chaos, death, destruction and tyranny to nations all over the Middle East.  Obviously I'm not saying the regime in Iran is righteous and holy or any such thing, but the idea that chanting annoying slogans makes one untrustworthy and impossible to negotiate with while actually murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people and overthrowing dozens of governments and throwing an entire region into chaos is just fine because, after all, we say "We mean well and all we want is to spread peace and democracy around the world."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reading the "News"

It is sad that even though I have bookmarked over a dozen "News" sites I find myself not believing any of them.  Each and every one has a blatant agenda that they are following.  Liberal and conservative, libertarian and statist.  Very few stories are simply recounting facts, it seems every story is told to further an agenda.  Pretty pathetic.  I've searched through literally hundreds of sites looking for one that would just tell the facts...
...but there doesn't seem to be even one such news site on the web, it's all opinion and prophecy.  They are either telling me what they think the events "mean" or predicting things that haven't happened yet.  What a complete waste of my time reading the news is.  It has gotten to the point now that I just open the front page of the BBC, Guardian, FOX, CNN, RT and SF Gate and read the headlines and call it good.  If any really important news comes up I'm sure someone will tell me about it on Facebook anyway :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Terrorism

I was going to make some political comments on the anniversary of the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but decided not to.  Instead I want to recommend people watch a couple of Japanese anime.

First is Barefoot Gen, a story written by a survivor of the destruction of Hiroshima.

Second is Grave of the Fireflies.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of terror, the use of such weapons is a war crime in every case.  We must eliminate such weapons from earth, not build more.

Let us pray:

Blessed is our God, now and unto the ages of ages.

Blessed is our God, who grants us peace and is the source of all peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

Loving God, you create and sustain all that is good and beautiful;
You give life to the earth.

You have called us to wholeness; to the fullness of life
But, as we gather here, we are conscious of our brokenness
Both as persons and as communities.

We have heard the cries for justice and peace
From all the corners of the earth.

We are moved by the tears, the pain and the agonies
of millions around the world.

We sense the dark clouds of war that creep over us;
We sit in the shadow of death.

Silence

Help us to fall on our knees and to cry for that vision of unity
Without which we would perish.

Teach us not to deal with others falsely,
Saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace.

Grant us grace that we may walk
In the paths of righteousness.

Bring us to yourself, that our hearts and minds
May discern the way of peace shown by your son.

For you alone have been our help in ages past,
And you are our shelter in the years ahead.

Amen
(From "Prayers for Peace" from the World Council of Churches.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Abominable

As a result of deciding to read more real physical books instead of e-books I went to the library and hunted for a book to read.  I chose a book by Dan Simmons called "The Abominable" based on other books by the same author I read years ago, "Hyperion" and the rest of the "Hyperion Cantos" as the series was called.  That was a great series, though it started to get a bit tedious after a while, but I figured that was just the typical author milking a good selling book series just a bit too long.

This abominable thing is 663 pages long, but I only made it to page 178 before giving up on it as a waste of my time and effort.  I now know far more than I ever wanted to about the details of Alpine style mountain climbing.  :-(  The story was so relentlessly dull and tedious that I finally decided to look up the reviews it got on Amazon to see if the pace ever picked up.  According to one review "...the first 400 pages are an exhaustive and frankly very tedious detailing of mountaineering techniques and methods of the 1920s as our heroes prepare for an Everest challenge to find the lost remains of a previous expedition that went missing. It's not until around p.500 that the action gets going..."  That is way too much prologue for too little payoff in my opinion.

As a result, in spite of the near physical pain not finishing a book gives me, I'm going to quit reading this one.  Life is too short to waste on bad books!  :-P   I wish I had known going in that the title was describing the quality of the writing!  At least it didn't cost me anything beyond a few tedious and wasted hours of my life.  That's one big advantage to getting a book at the library rather than buying it at some store.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It Really is Simple


I’m sitting in my room, listening to “Anglican Radio” which is just playing music at the moment, nice though.  I’m really pleased with the compromise position we have managed to take here in the Anglican Church of the Resurrection in Tracy.  The whole family went to church yesterday and we all went up and had communion.  There was none of the exclusionary crap that the LCMS and the RC throw up in front of people being able to partake, as long as you are a baptized believer then you are welcome at the table to receive the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Of course our family pretty much doubles the size of the congregation, but that is OK, maybe it will grow now that we are there and they now have the web site up.

I was listening to a podcast from Anglican Radio earlier this morning and the phrase “simple faith” was used to describe those who do not have fully articulated apologetic approach.  I think that is actually a good sort of thing for almost everyone, including me!  I think too much sometimes.  It’s all about relationship with Jesus, and thus with the Trinity, that is really important.  To understand each subtle nuance of theology is not needed.  It really is simple.  God is Love.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quid est veritas? Part II

I've been thinking, as usual, about the truth.  You know what I'm on about here, T-R-U-T-H.  :-)  The idea that any single Christian group has all of the truth is an attractive one, but one that I now have come to conclude, to my dismay, is not even possible.

I had thought that the Lutherans (LCMS only, ELCA don't even qualify as heretics anymore) had a pretty good grasp on it, until I started noticing the extra crud they were adding on to the list of things one "must believe" to be a proper Christian.  I've gone over that before so I won't belabor it now, Young Earth Creationism and what I consider a mistaken reading of Romans 13 and their overly restrictive rules on who can share the Eucharist are on the top of my list.  

Then there was the Roman Catholic Church, who actually do claim to have "All of the Truth" about the gospel.  They even claim that since Jesus stated that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that everything the church teaches must therefore be TRUE.  I'm pretty sure they have misinterpreted what Jesus was getting at there :-)  It wouldn't be so bad if they did not seem to go out of their way to make up new and increasingly strange "Marian Dogmas."  I did my very best to accept those, since I was convinced that Jesus did want his church to be united and the only possible candidate for that is the Roman church.  I even bought a book by Tim Staples called "Behold Your Mother" that was supposed to explain the Marian teachings in a way that would be easier to accept.  I actually threw that nice hard-bound book into the recycling bin at work to make sure no one else read it.  It was really the thing that convinced me that they have no leg to stand on in their teachings about Mary!   Staples takes the thinnest of biblical justifications and expands them into chapter after chapter of wild speculation.  In any case I came to conclude that Rome too did not have all Truth.

Which left me with my old Anglican ideas, where one gets the best of Catholic and Lutheran thoughts, in my opinion anyway, and fine liturgical services, mostly, and a bit wider idea of what the church is, all baptized Christians are welcome to participate in the Eucharist.  As I said before, the ACNA is more loyal to the traditional understanding of scripture than the ECUSA... but of course they don't even claim to be the exclusive repository of all truth, but they do their best to figure it out, and I now have concluded that this is probably the best anyone can do.  

So, Quid est veritas?  Jesus, and him crucified.  But not any one group of believers in Him.