Saturday, March 19, 2016

A better answer, in my humble opinion.

This message was posted by The Rev. Kevin Smith prior to the release of the House of Bishops message, shown on the blog post below this one. (I had lost it a few days ago but found it this morning.)

Posted to FB by Kevin Smith, March 14, 2016

Personally, I think it's time for Christians - not the evangelical fundamentalist types - to begin to stand up and be counted against Mr. Trump. It must be done prayerfully, non-violently and compassionately. But it must also be done with the message that under no uncertain terms can this man be elected to anything. And it must be done publicly and firmly with no retaliation, vitriol or need for vengeance. And it's time for our Bishops and leaders to speak out with the authority they possess to denounce the behavior we have witnessed in recent days and weeks. Such behavior is not an option and we need to do all we can to confront it without resorting to the same behaviors because to resort to such behaviors is to betray Christ.
I'm just an insignificant parish priest and I can do a lot in my own sphere. But we need to be a united front standing against the forces of bigotry, racism, homophobia and all the rest of the isms and phobias being voiced. Someone smarter than I must know how to begin. This need not be a clerically lead movement. The Laity has a power of its own which, when put into place, an be unstoppable.
As a student of history, the silence of the Churches in Germany until it was too late gave National Socialism a leg up. While Mr. Trump's movement isn't exactly National Socialism, it IS right wing extremism that stands against everything that Jesus taught and teaches us. Its results will be a catastrophe
Where and how do we start?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Have you seen this?

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in retreat, unanimously approved the following Word To The Church.
A Word to the Church
Holy Week 2016
"We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others.”
On Good Friday the ruling political forces of the day tortured and executed an innocent man. They sacrificed the weak and the blameless to protect their own status and power. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, revealing not only their injustice but also unmasking the lie that might makes right.
In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric. Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society. They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others. There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.
In this moment, we resemble God’s children wandering in the wilderness. We, like they, are struggling to find our way. They turned from following God and worshiped a golden calf constructed from their own wealth. The current rhetoric is leading us to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege. We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.
We call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail and we will not betray our true selves.
The Episcopal Church House of Bishops met in retreat March 11 – 15 at Camp Allen Conference Center in Navasota, TX.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A very thoughtful, thought provoking book.

I can’t get one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory out of my head. It is a very timely book. The descriptions and message fits where our culture is today. It helps me understand myself and others today. I more fully understand those whose views on what is important in life differ from my views. The book is The Road to Character by New York Times columnist and political commentator on the PBS Newshour, David Brooks.
Mr. Brooks describes two sets of virtues that we internalize as we strive for success and making our mark in the world. They are resume’ virtues and eulogy virtues. The resume’ virtues are those talents, skills, and accomplishments that we include on our job resume’s, such as what we have accomplished, the awards we have received, or status in society. The eulogy virtues are those characteristics of us that are described at our funeral in a eulogy, such as patience, faithfulness, and friendship. As Brooks describes it, in the first stage of our adult life we strive for the resume’ virtues and in the second sage of our life we focus on the eulogy virtues. It is important to know that these two stages do not have predetermined time spans, and in varying degrees we can have both stages occurring somewhat simultaneously.
The author describes these two stages as Adam I and Adam II in the beginning of the book. Then he uses nine chapters, focusing on nine individuals to show how these virtues play out. The descriptions of these individuals in history, their actions and virtues, kept me spellbound making it difficult to put down the book. After reading it I find more patience with those whose views and actions in life different significantly from mine. It’s not so much, now, that they are wrong as it is that they are seeing and living their lives differently than I do.
The Road to Character has definite spiritual aspects to it, for various reasons we do not have the book in our inventory. It is available in your local independent bookstore, no doubt.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Two John Marshalls are leaving the bookstore business.

Strangely there have been two of us John Marshalls owning two bookstores within about a mile of each other. The “other” John Marshall owns Open Books A Poem Emporium. The writer of this blog is co-owner of our Episcopal Bookstore. Nancy and I have been looking for a buyer for our ministry-which-is-the-store and things are looking very hopeful. (Can’t say anymore at this time.) Today, the other John Marshall has announced that his poetry bookstore is for sale so that he can retire.
It has always been good to have bookstores congregate. Poetry bookstores are very rare in the U.S., and religious bookstores in Seattle are unusual too because this is one of the least-churched parts of the country. Having two bookstore owners with the same name in the same neighborhood both selling their stores is also rare.
In my humble opinion both stores are rare in the quality and uniqueness of the books that they offer to the community.