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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Response to Gay Seminarian Discussion (2)

More from Email discussions. Something in my discord detector beeped and I felt the need to be sure that two people in the discussion didn't talk past each other. Basic issue of discussion appeared to be whether/how tendencies to sin persist after person becomes a more mature believer (whether through conversion, after confirmation, after growing more in his faith, etc.) Relates to the idea of whether a person with SSA can '"change."

J wrote:

... In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians he says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (II Cor. 5:17). In other words, if a person is in Christ (i.e. a Christian), he will still have to deal with temptations of all kinds. Nevertheless, as a new creation, he is no longer gay, a murderer, a rapist, or what have you, if he has put off the "old self" and put on the new (see Ephesians 4:22-24).

G responded:

As to the "permanence" of this "deep-seated" tendency -- I really don't think it's as clear cut as you present it. I don't think that one can deduce from St. Paul's language that you quoted that baptism can remove these "deep-seated" tendencies. You yourself acknowledge this. I'm not sure it's a helpful distinction to say that someone is not homosexual after baptism/conversion to Christ. If people still struggle with SSA post baptism, then, yes, they're homosexual. Baptism doesn't take the condition away. I hope that made sense?

I responded, having grown up Babdis’ and having finely tuned heresy and theological confusion detectors:

Just a bit of clarification [a' la Izzy], so that we don't get hung up on theological language.

J. refers to being "in Christ" and "a new Creation." G. refers mainly to baptism, and once to conversion when discussing this status.

Since the whole "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" thing hasn't lead to unity of all believers, it's important that we understand each other's terms, so that we don't get hung up on points tangential to the main question regarding candidates for the

Regarding Baptism: Catholic understanding says that baptism, as a sacrament of initiation, makes us part of God's family, removing the stain of original sin, not the ability to sin. Conversion is the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ.

Baptist (I think that is your background, J, correct?), understanding is that Baptism is a sign and an action/ordinance undertaken in obedience to Christ upon acceptance of Jesus as your Savior. Baptism itself, separate from acceptance of Christ, would not effect a change in the person's relationship with God. Conversion is synonymous with becoming a new creature, which is what happens when one accepts Christ.

I think in talking about baptism/conversion and being in Christ, you guys are both talking about a person who has come to a point where he has turned his life over to Christ. This is presumably at a point AFTER having had opportunities to sin and to discover within himself "deep seated tendencies" for various types of sin. Neither
of you appear to be talking about a newly baptised infant or to a young child who has just "asked Jesus into his heart."

In any case, you would both agree that the conversion/baptism/"being a new Creation" gains the sinner forgiveness of sin and a relationship with Christ. It is at this point, whatever we call it, that we must address what tendencies, habits, preferences, etc., we bring into our relationship with God.

Paul's writings, esp. in Romans 6, seem to indicate that this new status does not automatically equal sanctity. If it did, Paul would not have to, in the same chapter, tell us that we need no longer be slaves to sin, and admonish us to not let sin reign over our mortal bodies. We put off the old self that is enslaved to sin, but not the ability to sin. In Romans 7, Paul admits that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," and recognizes that the struggle continues until we have put off this mortal body.

Don't think I strayed into heresy...

Response to Gay Seminarian Discussion

My 2 cents worth in a discussion amongst our young adult group on the not-yet-released document.

I'm heartened by G having pointed to John Allen's article (used to be here) on what the Vatican means when it says Thou Shalt or Thou Shalt Not. It is certainly different from my understanding of what a rule is. If you missed the article, the gist was that for folks in the US, a rule is what YOU MUST DO. In the Italian mindset, which informs Vatican policy-making, a rule is what everyone would adhere to if this were a perfect world.

That understanding, assuming that it is valid, cushions the concern and (dare I say it?) "let-down" I felt when I began hearing enough of the story to realize that it wasn't just a rumor. For the first time, I found myself disagreeing with something that may become Church policy. I don't think that the honeymoon is over, but was certainly a shock to the system.

I thought I'd contribute to this discussion from the relatively new convert position. I'd given a great deal of thought to the question of ordination of gay and lesbian individuals as the Presbyterian Church (USA) wrestled with the question at each bi-annual General Assembly. Like Sean's premise with his students, I felt comfortable separating the orientation and a person's acting upon it.

Despite my personal reservations about ordination of women as pastors and elders, I think I was comfortable with the idea of ordination for pastors, elders and deacons who had (not "who suffered from" or "who were afflicted with" or even "who lived with") attraction to persons of their own gender, so long as they remained celibate. The Presbyterian Church does not require celibacy of her ministers, but current Presby polity (not those promoting the "gay agenda") enjoins upon these folks to live celibate lives to avoid sin or scandal/rumors. This is because, in the Presbyterian debate, the question was not strictly about sexual orientation, but about allowing persons actively living in sin (i.e., sexually active LGBT's) to serve as ministers.

That debate continues, but now I'm looking through a different lens. As a Catholic, I find that, at least on the surface as reported in the media, Holy Mother Church doesn't seem to be as "reasonable" as I think I am.

I've read the commentaries & blogs, talked to folks who know about the environment of seminaries, and looked in the Scriptures. Like many of you, I want any focus on sexual orientation to separate what a person is tempted towards, and how a person lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit. I want us to honor those men who are able to live chastely in our sex-obsessed world, not look for pink triangle tattoos. Like Chris, I want to talk to a priest who understands living with temptation, not one who has had to deny part of himself to embark on what he has experienced as a call from God.

I read the list of questions that the seminary visitors/auditors must answer and there are only two directly related to sexuality (however one defines it--thanks to Sean for his description of this part of our identity as our search for wholeness.)

Other parts of the document address what we all want in those men shepherding us: I want priests devoted to prayer, priests who don't spout new age philosophy, priests with administrative skills, priests with compassion, smart priests, priests who can make the truth clear to parishioners of all ages, etc. I'm willing to accept a celibate man, irrespective of with whom he is not having sex.

Like my dear husband, I'm holding the wait and see attitude, I hope that whatever document is ultimately promulgated is reasoned and sensible.

Izzy had written:

Count me among those taking a wait-&-see approach, but I confess that I'm not waiting very optimistically. I hope that both the working paper for the seminary audit and the expected document on gays in the clergy will avoid the equation of gays with pedophiles. I also kind of hope that this spurious equation has been made now by the news media rather than anything in the Catholic documents; given the collocation of sex-abuse scandals and the seminary audit, it would be easy for American media to assume that the audit is mainly to do with the much-publicized scandals.

I am less hopeful that official documents will show an even-handed approach to chastity and challenges that seminarians face. Will heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals all be treated as having the same challenges to chastity and the same resources available for maintaining chastity? If seminaries in the American Church, which has a disproportionate share of gay rights advocates, are forbidden from admitting chaste gays, will Irish seminaries be forbidden from admitting sober alcoholics?

But before I start tearing my hair and cheeks over what will be said, I'll wait to hear what it is. Who knows, we may even get a carefully nuanced document that appreciates the differences between SSA, homo- and bi-sexuality, and makes a good bit of sense when we read it. I don't say we'll all be happy with it when it arrives, but we ARE talking about the Church that produced the eminently reasonable Humanae Vitae, another document widely reviled and left unpracticed in the American Church.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Katrina Aftermath

Found before & after pics of our goddaughter's house in NOLA (uptown).

“Afters” were taken at the height of the flooding, so what they heard about no flood damage appears to be correct. There may be wind and tree damage, plus possible water after Rita blew through.

In Left (Before) pic, their house is hidden by the large tree in the yard next door (southeast). That yard has a pool, which is not visible in the "after" (Right) pic.

Eventually I'll get these uploaded...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Report on our Week, including Fire at the Beach

Sent this to Mom last night, thought I'd post...In re-reading, I’m seeing that I’m still pretty awkward in discussing “Catholic things” with family.

Click for a picture that was taken shortly before the closing Mass at the Fire at the Beach conference we went to at Myrtle Beach last weekend.

You can click previous or next and see interesting pics of the Bishop (biggest hat) and the Knights of Columbus (most unusual hats.)

Enjoyed having all y'all over the other night. Hope all the kids got all of the sugar out of their systems.... 8-)

We've been in the midst of a busy week & a half!
--Beach trip Thursday through Sunday, including me giving a presentation to a child care conference,
--Young Adult group meeting at church on Monday,
--party prep & cooking on Tuesday,
--Nephew's party here on Wednesday,
--Friends from church: G (the guy who took the photo--Brother 1 calls him Groovy") and MB (the guy seated next to me in the photo) over on Thursday night.
G served us a homemade Indian dinner that he made here (our kitchen smelled
--riding in Spring Valley's Homecoming Parade last night,
--a Spring Valley faculty party tonight.

That's in addition to work, grading mountains of papers, washing mountains of laundry, doing the Bulletin), worrying about Hurricane Rita hitting the LP's, etc.

We'll try and have a relaxing Saturday.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Sent to boss, G and Izzy:

Almost missed that today is National "Talk like a Pirate Day." Herrrre's a website ferr ye to be looookin' at, me hearties. (site may be a bit slow--everyone is getting "on board" with this today...)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Home Churching and New "W" Joke

From the Onion (via G)
Report: More Kids Being Home-Churched:

It is way beyond funny...Love the reference to the Zaccheus song!

Also, and this could have been a question in the Judge Roberts hearings:

Q: What is President Bush's opinion on Roe vs. Wade?

A: He doesn't care HOW people get out of New Orleans.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Dietary Notes

(Note sent by Izzy to a friend offering to cook for us. Adapted.)

You asked about Lizzie's dietary restrictions. Here is a little note Lizzie once put together about her non-Levitical Dietary Restrictions. It is, I hope you'll note, modeled on a piece by Ian Frazier that once ran in _Atlantic Monthly_ and became somewhat infamous. You used to be able to get the original here (and even listen to the author read it.) Now you have to be a paying subscriber. Finks. I think I still have e-copy of the thing on my hard drive if you're interested.

(Found a posted version.)

Anyway, here is Lizzie's solipsistic version, dated 20 June 2001:

~~~Begin Quote~~~

"Comments" concerning food and drink:

Of the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the field, of those clean and unclean, I may not eat.

Of the milk of the cattle and the sheep and the goat, whilst in the form fore-ordained by the Creator for the young of each species, I may not drink.

Of the milk hardened into cakes for only a moment's time, and of the especially smelly young milk-cakes I may not eat.

Of the lumpy cheesy concoctions, high in fat and masquerading as food for penitents and mendicants, I may not eat.

Yet, of the skim and one percent milk, or the regular milk BAKED into dishes, I may eat. And of the low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, I may eat, but not too much. I may eat of the low-fat or non-fat ice cream, although these are vile and loathsome in [my husband's] sight.

And of the hard and aged cheeses, yea even those sharp, pungent and gratable cheeses, I may eat, especially when cooked onto a pizza.

Of the radishes and bell peppers and cucumbers, and other offerings of Cain which cause the belching in one's innermost being, I may not eat.

Of the lettuce, Bibbed or iceberg, and of similar textureless and tasteless fillers, I may eat only a small portion, lest I return the abomination that is iceberg lettuce to the depths of the earth.

Yet of the spinach, cooked or raw, or nicely seasoned with lemon and olive oil, I may eat and give hearty thanks.

And although I may not partake of the raw cucumber or the barely pickled deli-cukes, I may enjoy the produce of the cucumber vine when fully briny or fully sweet (I may even "relish" the dish.)

Of the cooked vegetables I may eat, although it is of a truth that it is said that squash is an offense in my sight. I will endure it as Job endured boils, though, when it is the only non-meat item on a menu and is served as part of a "vegetable melody."

What more shall I say? Shall I sing the praises of grilled eggplant or of the asparagus quesadilla? Shall I tell of chutneys and of spinach enchiladas and "Not Dogs" and of broccoli fried rice? Of tomatoes, cooked into garlicky sauces and served over pasta, or sliced and served with basil and mozzarella, or cooked into creamy soups, or even sliced fresh and red-ripe and served with salt and pepper? There is not time to tell the worth of lemon meringue pies or crescent roll pandowdy or ice milk or Diet Dr. Pepper or iced tea, yet I glory in these even as they remain constantly with my hips, withersoever I shall go.

Should I prepare meals, I may, like Peter with Cornelius, set aside these laws to prepare sustenance; although, like Moses on Mt. Nebo, I may not partake of that which is reserved for others.

(Apologies to Ian Frazier)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Solo, a capella

So, Doc calls this AM around 8:10 and will not be able to sing (I had the phone on silent and missed his first 2 attempts earlier.) We’d spent lots of time practicing the music and I felt like I could do it, so I led music a capella for 9 AM Mass.

Based on what I'd seen from Katrina all week, I'm glad I'd had time to ruminate on Psalm 42: "As the Deer Longs..." I though that the "over my head, all Your mighty waters, sweeping over me" and "where is God?" parts would be especially relevant after all of the images on TV this week. Based on what we'd practiced, I did Refrain (x2), Verse 1, Refrain, Verses 2 & 3, Refrain, Verses 4&5, Refrain. It put the despair verses and the hope verses together.

Ref: As the deer longs for running streams
So I long, so I long
So I long for you

(1) Athirst my soul for you the God who is my life
When shall I see, when shall I see
See the face of God?

Ref: As the deer longs for running streams…

(2) Echoes meet as deep is calling unto deep
Over my head, all your mighty waters
Sweeping over me

(3) Continually, the foes delights in taunting me
Where is God? Where is your God?
(sotto voce) Where, oh where, are You?

(4)Defend me God, send forth your light and your truth
They will lead me to your holy mountain
To your dwelling place

(5)Then I shall go unto the altar of my God
Praising you, O my joy and gladness
I shall praise your name

Ref: As the deer longs for running streams…

Music & setting © 1988, Bob Hurd. Published by OCP Publications. All rights reserved.

Offertory: Hosea. It fit in well with the just completed homily on forgiveness and 2nd chances.

Hoping not to have to do solo a capella again-- good to know I can, though, if I have to.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Will New Orleans Recover?

Response to BMPC discussion about New Orleans, where folks had referred to the Canal Street Presbyterian Church. Names changed for blogpost.

Another note related to Canal Street Presbyterian Church:

Last Christmas, Izzy and I had the privilege of worshiping there. We were with former Blacknallites JB & MKB, and members of their families (a very few of you may remember JE & K LP and their children Timbob & Idabeck (our goddaughter)), along with former members of the Bible Church we were part of Mesquite, Texas.

What brought all of us together was the ordination of a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC). So there we were, Catholics, CEC folks, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Assemblies of God (even ORU alums), Baptists, plus others, worshiping in this wonderful church that has such close historic ties to Blacknall. It was so very much like a homecoming for us.

For those with long memories, JB & MKB and their 3 children now live in Shreveport, LA. They are currently hosting 4 LP’s and 2 dogs and they await the soon arrival of 2 more LP’s (grandparents Granpaul and K) flying in from Virginia where they were vacationing when Katrina hit.

In a snapshot of what is happening with so many families, there are uncertainties about:

  • Work: JE is a professor at a university in NoLA--when will/can it re-open? When will they be paid for time already worked? Should he look for another job? JE& MK’s father, Granpaul, is a title attorney--when will real estate transactions in NO resume?
  • Resources: 11 people and several dogs to feed on one salary. Lack of on-line access to checking accounts for an NO based bank. Living for a while with 3 changes of clothes per person.
  • Education: Enrollment in school? Continued home schooling without all of the resources needed?
  • Emotional Stress: Timbob (age 10) has autism and is, as would be expected, having a tough time being away from familiar things and places. Although the LP house in Uptown escaped most of the flooding, what will be left from rampant looting in that area?

    These are intelligent folks with excellent educations, who were well prepared for the storm. In hearing from K about how much their lives are upended, I feel even more strongly for those who had less to begin with...

Eerily Correct Prediction

Sent to a couple of lists:

By now, you may have heard about the October 2004 National Geographic Article on Louisiana wetlands that contains a fairly accurate description of what has just happened in New Orleans.

P. & M. will be especially interested in the bio/eco/hydro aspects of how decisions made upstream affect the downstream populations.

For the rest of us, it's just a bizarre read that might spark some discussion about stewardship of resources, natural tendencies that people have to discount risks to themselves, etc.

A few sample sentences:

Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst
natural disaster in the history of the United States.
Above is one of the best photos I've seen regarding the scale of the clean-up involved.

Disaster Relief

List serve response to questions about getting “invited” to go help with Katrina Relief:

My slightly edited responses to questions asked below:

I think I can answer the question raised about "an invitation."

As part of our SC's disaster plan, we are part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC, for those of us in government.) Through EMAC, states send out requests to other states for various tasks that they need help with, and for various skill sets that will help them in their recovery. DHEC has received EMAC requests to assist in a number of ways, including hydrogeology ("what's up wit' the water, dude?"), epidemiology and medical care of displaced persons.

Recovery Teams are being assembled and logistics are being planned. As you can see from news coverage, teams in many areas will have to be self-sustaining. This means bringing our own food, water, gas, bedding, toilet facilities(?), etc., PLUS all the supplies needed to DO what we are asked to do. Areas also have to be safe enough to enter (not just lawful, but also no longer under imminent threat of rising water, etc.)

P. and I (any others out there?) have let our supervisors know that we are willing to serve. As our particular skill sets are needed, we may be asked to join an EMAC team headed for the gulf coast. There will likely be a number of teams heading out soon and over the next 4-6 months.

Take-home Point: One of the essentials in disaster recovery is ORGANIZATION: from delivery of supplies to deployment and receiving of support personnel. Kind-hearted people who suddenly appear at a site have good intentions, but may not be self-sustaining, and may end up needing rescuing themselves. This is, sadly, one of the reasons it has taken National Guard and Air Force groups 3-4 days to get to NOLA. They had to be able to get there, land planes with supplies and set up field

Incidentally, I am more likely to end up in Alabama, Northern Mississippi, or Texas; P. is more likely to end up in southern Mississippi or Louisiana.

G wrote:
P--thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

What exactly are you waiting for an invitation to do? With which group? When will you know? Do fill us in. And of course, rest assured of my prayers, our prayers. Your commitment to serving those in need is most inspiring!
Paula had written:

Hi friends,

In striking Michelle-esque style, I've tossed my name in the hat to help with relief efforts in MS and LA... well, less "tossed" than "placed deliberately."

I lay awake in bed last night after watching the news - it was the first time I've had the tv on in weeks (HP and all) - thinking of ways I could get to LA to hand one thirsty person a bottle of water, and I woke up this morning to the news that SAR workers had been called off their duties to fight rampant looting.

This morning I read my e-mails at work in tears. The last one was a request for volunteers to join the relief effort in kind. Hopefully in the next couple months I'll be devising clean-up schemes to get sewage out of people's homes and get underground storage tank leaks under control. I have to admit, I feel more qualified to fetch coffee or help build a make-shift shelter than be a geologist in that place, but I think I just have to go, whatever the task. I know I'm lucky to be in a position where I can leave town for a couple weeks and shake dirty hands with the people in the front lines - and I may never have the opportunity again.

So the real reason I'm telling you this is to ask for your prayers for the people making decisions about forming our teams, for my own strength while I wait for an invitation, and of course for those who need the Body of Christ most right now.