Monday, August 29, 2011
There was no election by the people of Fort Worth except the kind a rubber stamp process that became de rigure for the diocese. Thereafter slates of hand-picked candidates were provided by the administration of the diocese. It wasn’t clear how those people were nominated but it was clear that no alternatives would be welcomed. Nominations from the floor of Convention were discouraged and no clear mechanisms were established for any opposition to the proposed candidates. This practice established a type of cleric-controlled administration that still raises its ugly head in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
The governance of The Episcopal Church was set up to allow for good people of all orders to have equal influence in the running of the church. Yes, we did have bishops, but that power was limited by the clergy and laity. Yes, we have priests, but their power is limited by bishops and laity. And most of all, we had laity who were to have an equal say in the church but their power too is limited by bishops and clergy. We are not a congregational denomination in which each congregation can call their own shots. Each order has an important contribution and power in the church but the main job was for them to work together as equals. But this balance of power was not evident in the founding of the Diocese of Fort Worth and until its reorganization 2 years ago, the role of the laity was perceived by many as ‘pay and pray.’
So in our reorganization of the diocese it is incumbent upon us to provide ways of all members being involved in the governance of the diocese--both clergy and lay. The process for nomination must be clear and visible, not done behind closed doors of ‘confidentiality’. All proposed names for diocesan office who are members in good standing should appear on the ballots of our convention. There should be no vetting by a nominations committee or the like otherwise it will have the mark of previous administrations on the diocesan process of governance. Transparency is absolutely necessary to shake us from previous practices to insure the Church that the Diocese has righted itself from its past.
The job of a nominations committee is to provide the candidates’ biographical information to the convention and to check their eligibility. It is also incumbent for that committee to provide descriptions of the positions that are to be filled. That is all. No discussion as to the candidates’ viability or their abilities or personality should take place. It is the purview of the convention to determine the viability and appropriateness of candidates for the positions. No one should have to step down from the Nominating Committee in order to run for office; no one is refused nomination for any reason other than ineligibility.
Righting past wrongs is more than just giving previously disenfranchised persons voice. It requires a vigilance to put in place structures that provide for different ways of calling forth from us good governance and demanding from us all adherence to principles of transparency and openness. Ideally the governance of The Episcopal Church is one in which each order can trust the other because we have our unique gifts and charisms. We, as a diocese are getting there. But we must continue to demand from all our committees and organizations the kind of processes that speak clarity and openness.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Sally said: “It is Friday which is my day off and it is raining, which means that an outing to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has been cancelled. So what to do, I am currently scanning the internet for possibilities. I think we will head into York to visit the Art Gallery.”
How about you, what do you do on a rainy summer’s day?
5. Is there a piece of music/ a poem/ story that cheers you up? Rain, for the most part, is not depressing for me. Having grown up in TX rain was nearly always greeted with great joy because we get so little of it. But with all the ‘sturm und drang’ that rainstorms bring here, I would listen to some of the big pieces of Richard Strauss—Die Rosenkavilier or Mahlers’ Seventh Symphony or Die Valkurie by Wagner to enliven my day. Or if J is home, perhaps some Paul Simon—Kodachrome or Bridge over Troubled Waters.
Bonus: post a rainy day photo
Friday, August 19, 2011
Jan once more has posted another good Friday Five:
My husband and I just returned (on Wednesday night) from a long road trip up the middle USA to Canada, going through various national parks, and on to the Puget Sound of Washington State. This brought back memories of family road trips with my children and when I was a child, so the idea of today's Friday Five arose.
Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worst time
Friday, August 12, 2011
The Place I Want To Get Back To
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
and first light
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can't be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
(Mary Oliver, "Thirst", Beacon Press, 2006)
For this Friday Five I invite you to offer five gratitudes you recognize in your life.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
My father worked for the railroad as did his father before him. Grandfather came to the US from the UK in the late 19th century. He was on his way to Australia to be with cousins because there were no jobs for him in England. The future for him was only in the Empire. But Grandpa’s trip over was traumatic and he refused to get on another ship. Even a small boat on the lake would make him ‘white-knuckled’. So he wound up in Iowa working for the Burlington-Quincy Railroad. He was a surveyor. He met his wife who was the daughter of the owner of a boarding house for railroad workers.
I watched throughout my youth the decline of the railroads and the end of passenger service. I was well into my twenties before I ever flew. When we visited grandmothers, it was always by rail. But by the 1970’s I was no longer on my dad’s pass and Amtrack never held the thrill that riding the Texas Chief had had.
Ft. Worth is experiencing a boom like it never has. I believe we are growing faster than any city in the South. I am surprised at how many of my high school classmates have returned to Ft. Worth after having spent most of their lives, like me, elsewhere. It isn’t as if Ft. Worth is the nirvana of TX. It may just be that all the mobility of my contemporaries’ adulthood has said it is time for the idea of ‘home’ to predominate. I certainly find it so.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Last night I caught Richard Dawkins’ commentary on the existence of God on the Green Channel. He was showing how with the ‘Big Bang Theory’ there is no room for God. He has proven with math and logics that it didn’t take God to be creator of the Universe.
Now, I am no physicist. I do not know the mechanics of how the natural world works. I am so math-challenged that I can’t balance my check book. But I do know that natural law is not the only thing that makes the world go round. I do know that there is something that somehow not only caused the Big Bang that led to billions of years of evolving and transformation and it continues to be a part of that ever-expanding creation.
What I call God or the Holy is not something that I can even begin to describe. I can only point to the effects in life. Professor Hawkings is an amazing scientist. And I am sure he is sure of his facts. But the Holy is not about facts. The Holy includes all of that which cannot be explained in natural law. I am sure the good professor would say that there IS nothing outside natural law. But I have experienced that Holy and it is not something I have manufactured. I am not smart enough to manufacture that presence that goes beyond time, matter and space.
I have been preaching about the Indefinable for 40 years now and I am no closer to describing the Holy than before I went to seminary. I can only speak in metaphors and use words allegorically to explain that Presence that has been there all my life even though I may have not known it. I use the metaphoric language that those who have gone before me and who have known that Presence too. I use technical terms such salvation, redemption, belief, faith and even God the way my predecessors used them, but I am beginning to find that those words do not convey the awe, the kinship, the call to be in that Presence.
Marcus Borg has tried to reclaim some of those words in his “Speaking Christianity”. And I too believe it is time to redefine some of those words that have become ‘definitions’ of how that Holy acts in creation. It will require a willingness to unhinge ourselves from those nice neat compartments that we can put God so that we do not have to be present to that Presence.
I choose to call it God. I choose to personalize it because it is easier for me to understand how this Presence functions in my life if I do. But that too is not necessary. God does not demand it of me. That Holy Presence is just part of my life. It is in me and around me. I claim it and hold it for all to see. But that Holy One is the beginning for me. It is the Big Bang of my life if not creation.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
It is now almost 2 months since we had rain. For about the 4th day in a row it has been 109+ F at our house. And yes, we do have air conditioning, but you do have to go out sometimes. Today I just went up to church for a while. Just walking from the front door to the car was an ordeal. And then getting into the car was reminiscent of Shaddrach, Mishach and Abendigo. Yes, my car has a/c too. But one has to wait until it gets up and running before it cools anything.
It is a summer like this that reminds me that I am back in TX. Watering the grass is like steaming vegetables. But it is times like this that folks have to water the foundations of their homes to keep the slabs from cracking. We have already had a water pipe break due to the heat. (I cringe at the thought of our water bill next month.) But we do have a green lawn! However now the news warns of water rationing. Some ranchers are sending their cattle off to slaughter rather than try to water them. And produce farmers have watched their crops wither and die.
I met someone who used to live in MN who told me that when he retired he drove south far enough to have someone ask him what that electric cord was hanging out of his engine was. He said he had found his retirement home! And that is sort of how I feel even in this heat.
Even the cats don’t want to go out. They sit in front of the patio door and watch the birds with some interest but not enough energy to wiggle a whisker. Naps or a glass of lemonade and a good book are the remedies for this weather. Reminds me of snow days up North.