Why didn’t the Episcopal Church split after the election of a gay bishop?

The 2003 election Bishop Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop set off an internal debate within the Episcopal Church caused Professor Mathew Sheep, Business Professor at Illinois State University,  to ask how the church would respond and how it was that the Episcopal

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Why be Episcopalian?

THE MAGAZINE by Lisa Fischbeck “I don’t have any desire to be an Episcopalian. I just like the Church of the Advocate,” says the man who has been coming to the Advocate for 5 years. The Bishop’s visitation is ahead, and I’m trying to identify people who might want to get confirmed.

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Liberal Christian Urges Kirk Cameron To Mind His Own Beeswax About Cherished Holiday Traditions

Former child actor and current talentless hack Kirk Cameron has taken upon himself to save Christmas from Christians that he doesn’t consider to be Christian enough, and from everyone else that is of any other persuasion, too. Because only Kirk Cameron’s Christmas is the righteous, holy, and most Jesus-y one, apparently. And now with seasonal Halloween, too!

Can’t wait for the inevitable Thanksgiving video, with a working title of “SATAN is at ur tabel, eatin ur turkiy,” because cognitive dissonance is always such a hoot.

Like other Christianist loudmouths (and Bill O’Reilly, who’s just a loudmouth) the One True Christmas for which Kirk Cameron pines is all about bringing the unchurched masses of America and the world to Jesus Christ. All other ways of keeping Christmas, even if it’s strictly secular and centered on shopping, gifting, and enjoying family and friends, are simply not acceptable to Cameron. Most of us actually enjoy the hustle-bustle of the modern American Christmas, although I tend to like the quieter, more spiritual aspects, the music, and the pretty holiday displays rather than the rugby scrum that Christmas shopping has become.

Perhaps Kirk Cameron thinks the Devil makes us do it differently than he does, and therefore it must be saved from us heathens. Saved! SAVED IN THE BLOOD OF JEEEEZ-US. Or whatever.

What an ass. No, what a self-righteous, pompous early-onset male pattern bald-faced middle-aged ass.

I’ve been aware for years of Cameron and his yawping ilk, demanding that Christmas be saved from the clutches of, I don’t know, rampant commercialism and simpering Hallmark-card secularism. And I’ve ignored him for decades. By contrast, in the last 15 years or so, I’ve kept Christmas pretty well, singing and celebrating at Christmas Eve services at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, and then later at St Nicholas Episcopal Church since moving to Illinois.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that not everyone celebrates Christmas at all (hello, my honey! hello, my inlaws! Hello, my Jewish extended family!). I’m also comfortable with people who were raised as Christians in name only, who might or might not attend church twice a year, otherwise known as “C. and E. Christians.”

It turns out I was raised in just such a family that didn’t go to church except for major holidays (also weddings, christenings, and funerals). My mom and I were an anomaly, we actually liked attending and participating the rest of the year. That was when my quarterly Sunday communion might consist of cubed Wonder-Bread and grape juice in little individual shot glasses; now I’m all about the weekly Eucharist of hand-baked bread and wine in a shared silver cup, blessed by the hands of Father Manny and others.

Still, I have great affection for Christians who show up for Christmas and Easter. They’re the people filling the seats in church for the big festival services, where we in the choir are singing our hearts (and throats) out. They’re the people I work hardest for, months before each holiday, rehearsing with the Choir of St Nicholas and half-killing myself with the singing and the late night rehearsals and big festival services.

Casual Christians get my most technically challenging musical efforts, if they happen to drop by St Nick’s, but I give my best effort for the normal Sunday services and occasional “lesser feasts,” too. They say that she who sings once, prays twice, and I do pray as I sing that it is acceptable, pleasing, and for God’s sake, in tune! Also that my (pretty modest) efforts in the alto section might help to move someone’s heart to lift in a moment of transcendance. Yet, they don’t have to believe as I believe. They just have to feel something beyond themselves and be transported, and that is fine with me.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am deeply offended by Kirk Cameron’s posturing on the need to “save” Christmas, and suspect that the real motive for his madness is to somehow remain in the public eye, since his career went in the crapper after Growing Pains ended. Oh, if only Alan Thicke’s real-life son Robin had been old enough for the role, what a very different and twerky world we would live in now!

Now Cameron wants to “save” Halloween, a holiday I also hold dear although I don’t celebrate it properly any more. He wants Christians to turn it into an opportunity to preach the Gospel to people who, frankly, are probably not all that interested in anything he has to say. If people like Kirk Cameron hadn’t turned them off by being righteous assholes, un-spiritual people might actually discover for themselves that when you strip out all the Bible-thumper rhetoric, Jesus had some radically Good News for the world, and a new way to honor God and all His Creation – by loving one another, caring for the poor, and healing the world. An atheist can even “get” the message of Jesus without the need to believe, too. This world could very well be all we’ve got, so we should at least treat it and each other better.

At last, the second or third half of this post! Would you like a cookie, some pumpkin juice, or a butterbeer? What’s a little sorcery and witchcraft, when people of fair to middling intelligence know there’s no such thing?

ANYway, to continue, to digress, and to finally get to the thing that set me off on this merry tirade:

Yesterday, the comic and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” actor Patton Oswalt laid this gem upon the breast of the Twitterverse, and it was good.

Curious as to what inspired that comment, after a quick stop to remind myself who Travis Bickle was, I looked around and found that Kirk Cameron has decided that Halloween needs to be taken back from the Satan-worshiping scarily costumed candy-gobbling trick-or-treaters.

Well, I always thought kids weren’t for me, but I didn’t think they were all THAT evil.

Also, that would be a great Halloween costume for Kirk Cameron – the mohawk, the moral rigidity, the martyr complex: it’s too perfect.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday on Cameron’s radar. Next month, he’s releasing a film called "Saving Christmas," aimed at restoring religion to the holiday.

via Kirk Cameron Urges Christians To Celebrate Halloween By Sharing The Gospel.

It’s all about getting publicity for the “Saving Christmas” movie, and it’s all about trying to restore the tawdry lustre to his long-faded Hollywood star. I suspect it’s not about bringing souls to Jesus and defeating Satan, it’s about bringing eyeballs to the screen and courting Mammon.

So this, too, offends me. Both as a liberal Christian and as a former candy-gobbling trick-or-treater, I’m comfortable with the old pagan customs that survive in the modern celebration of Halloween, and of course I’ve attended a few All Saints/Souls services in my time (usually at other Episcopal churches, we usually don’t put do one unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday).

I’m sure that Mr More Christiany Than Thou Cameron has no idea what All Hallows’ Eve, All Saint’s Day, or All Souls Day even mean to “liturgical” Christians like me. Apparently, his way of celebrating Halloween, Christmas, and other cherished holidays forgets the old traditions and long-sacred ceremony, brings no meaningful modern reinterpretation, and strips out any remaining beauty, color, and poetry. A rich, deeply refreshing liturgy is replaced with whatever bland, multi-media production Cameron thinks is sufficiently Christian to avoid self-offense.

Blech. Sorry, I can’t even.

As a liberal Christian, I’m comfortable with commemorating the dead, remembering the saints, and dressing up to literally laugh in the face of Death. I can even celebrate a formerly pagan Harvest Festival with something more creative and warmly generous in spirit as the season turns toward winter (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUGS FOR ST NICK’S HARVEST FAIR AND ALSO THE CHRISTMAS CD WOOHOO).

Yes, in case you didn’t know, St Nick’s is putting on its own Harvest Fair – A Gathering of Artisans this year. It’s a tradition that many English churches follow, and American and Canadian churches too, but the emphasis will be on quality and on celebrating the creativity of our St Nick’s community.

Please visit our Harvest Fairpage on Facebook and LIKE and SHARE so that lots of people in the area of Elk Grove Village and the Chicagoland area might find out about it, it’s our first year. We’ve got handmade soap, jewelry, and other treasures lined up and waiting to be discovered, and there’s more room for artisans to take a table or a partial table!

Last year we celebrated Halloween with a daylight Trick or Trunk event where parishioners at St Nick’s decorated the trunks of their cars and the backs of their mini-vans and SUVs and gave out candy to the youngest neighborhood children. I think there was a circuit of several churches that put it on in the area. It was a fun event that was enjoyed by very small costumed witches and demons (Ooooh! Scary, Kirk Cameron! BOO!). This year we’re offering some nice treats and no tricks to older kids of all ages with the Harvest Fair.

Meanwhile, there’s a pumpkin out in front of the front doors of St Nick’s… not sure why, but it’s creative and certainly in keeping with the season and with the neighborhood (Elk Grove Village is known for its Halloween and Christmas displays).

Sunday, Christmas comes early to St Nicholas (actually it’s been coming since about May of last year. The Choir of St Nicholas is recording a Christmas CD called NOEL: Christmas At St Nicholas Episcopal Church. I get to sing on it, it will be available for a small donation, but can be pre-ordered.. We’re going to a real recording studio Sunday after the regular 10am service to do it, and then if you like, you can drop by at about 8pm on Christmas Eve (December 24, for those of you who don’t do church much) and hear it all LIVE. Like a CONCERT, but with praying and communion and stuff. You are most welcome. Here’s what it’ll look like, my husband David took the photo at the 2012 service.

CD: Noel: Christmas at St Nicholas

Does this Christmas look like it needs saving? Does this Halloween need to be taken back? NOPE.

So thank you but no thank you, Kirk Cameron, you can mind your own beeswax about cherished holiday traditions like Halloween and Christmas. You celebrate them how you see fit, but don’t tell other people how they should do it. The Devil is not involved, and neither is Bigfoot and the Easter Bunny.

You may think you’re contesting with Satan (who is a metaphorical construct, in my opinion) and you may complain about rampant secularism, but the truth is, most people don’t really pay much attention to you. You’re not very relevant now, and you were not a cultural influence when Growing Pains was on the air, either. It was merely mass entertainment to the lowest common denominator. It was commercial pap, and certainly not as influential as The Cosby Show, for example.

Actually, Kirk Cameron’s Mike Seaver was never fit to tie Theo Huxtable’s basketball shoes – now that was a groundbreaking show about an American family struggling to instill good values (and it was a lot funnier). More people “got the message” about how to treat each other from watching that show, which didn’t preach, but did persuade. The message that people got from Cameron’s show was that hisbest friend’s name was Boner, until he mysteriously ran off and joined the Marines. The teen heart-throb Mike character was an insufferable schemer, until a real-life conversion experience revealed Cameron to be one of those self-important Christianists who beats everybody over the head with the baby Jesus. After becoming insufferably holy, he insisted on storyline changes, script changes, and had a co-star fired.

I had totally forgotten what a pimple Kirk Cameron was in the 90’s.

Meanwhile, it could be argued that his not-very-charitable behavior toward his co-stars and the producers, after becoming a foam-at-the-mouth Bible beater, led to the steep ratings decline and eventual cancellation of his only claim to fame. Huh.

Yes, preach (and rant) on about needing to save Christmas, Kirk Cameron. But will you be singing the old carols on Christmas Eve, and receiving Christ in the bread and wine while the glorious anthems rise to Heaven? Will you be bringing canned goods to drop off anonymously at the door of your local food pantry, as our neighbors and support group members do at ours? I don’t think so. You’ll be attending premieres and media events held in auditoriums, trying to flog DVD sales. Frankly, I’d rather help flog our CD sales.

Yes, anyone celebrating Halloween by dressing up, playing tricks and sharing treats is not a pagan, not a Satanist, not a devil-worshipper; they’re someone who enjoys the traditions of All Hallows’ Eve, and has fun with its modern equivalent.

Yes, even a Christian can celebrate All Hallows’ Eve; the colors (orange and black) are a reminder of some very old Christian traditions. In England, groups of people dressed in black used to go out “souling” door-to-door (begging for soul-cakes in exchange for Christian prayers for the dead, in the Anglican tradition) before the three days of “All Hallowtide.” The yellowish-orange beeswax candles that were carried in such processions, along with other things like carved turnips, became the other color associated with Halloween. In the US, orange pumpkins were easier to carve into what originally a lantern to guide lost souls. People would pray that the wandering souls would find rest and not do mischief, and they would disguise themselves in costumes to avoid their wrath. Sometimes they dressed up as saints, too.

Woops, it looks like the Christians already took back Halloween, some centuries ago. Rather than saving holidays that don’t need saving, why not protest one of those pop-up Spirit stores instead, or criticize home improvement stores for putting fall and winter holiday displays on sale in August?

A true Halloween can be just a fun candy holiday, or the lead-in to a generic harvest festival, or even a family gathering at Thanksgiving (I can hardly wait for Cameron to hit that one). And with the addition of All Saints/All Souls, Halloween is an opportunity to reflect on how life and death are linked, and how facing our demons, commemorating our saints, and remembering our dead is part of being human.

It always used to annoy me at work when the annual Halloween extravaganza would come around – most of us would be decorating and working on our team presentation for the costume contests, and a few unhappy, joyless Christianists would be complaining that the decorations were too scary and too Satanic. They wouldn’t participate, and would take the day off to avoid all the… fun. That’s okay, more candy for us.

Sure, it was hectic, but they were literally killjoys and fortunately there were only one or two. The same few even objected to Christmas decorations in the office, or Hanukkah decor at one co-worker’s desk. In their narrow minds, those symbols were somehow evil, pagan and of the Devil. They would have been happiest if there were NO seasonal displays, since ALL the holidays were tainted because they were, yes, pagan in origin. Nothing should be celebrated or enjoyed if it had any start in a non-Biblical tradition, in their view.

Cameron wants to turn Halloween into a big thunder-and-brimstone Bible fest. Does it need saving? No.

A person needn’t be Christian to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas if they wish, though unfortunately they can hardly escape it if they don’t. My late Jewish mammeleh-in-law even liked the holiday lighting displays and some of the music. Yes, without the crass commercialism, and the evil corporatism of Black Friday (and Thursday!) shopping stampedes at Thanksgiving, the Christmas season isn’t the Norman Rockwell painting of our shared nostalgia. Let’s not forget, Santa Claus was popularized by newspaper editors from a poem by an Episcopalian academic, with an image makeover in the late 40’s by a soft drink company. Like a comic book character, his true origin story reveals his secret identity: ta-da!! he’s SAINT NICHOLAS.

A true Christmas is a gathering of loved ones and friends, with food and warmth, and color, and music, while remembering the less fortunate and the lonely. Does that need saving? No. Bam! said the lady, no.

And now, I can’t bring myself to watch his trailer to see what he wants to do to “save” Christmas. Who does he think he is? Jesus Christ.

Yep. That’s why he’s more holier than thou, and me, and everybody.

Are we living in the 1st Century, or the 21st Century? Some of these Christianists need to get a modern life. Neither Halloween nor Christmas need saving, except perhaps from former child stars long past their pull date, and FAUX Noise pundits shooting off their pieholes in the annual “War On Christmas.”

Mind your own beeswax, Kirk Cameron. Save your sanity instead.

Smallest Jewish congregation in U.S. fights for survival in Mattoon IL

MATTOON, IL—

Proud to be known as the heart of the Illinois Bible Belt, the residents of Mattoon fill dozens of Christian churches. Theres also one Jewish congregation, which has the distinction of being the smallest Reform synagogue in North America. The membership? Four households.

The Mattoon Jewish Community Center isnt a center at all but a group of dedicated congregants who meet in Trinity Episcopal Church. Even at Yom Kippur — the holiest of Holy Days, when this week synagogues in Chicago were packed — the worshippers at this prairie outpost strained to hit double digits.

via Smallest Jewish congregation in U.S. fights for survival in Illinois – chicagotribune.com

One of my favorite family members lives south of Mattoon. Aside from occasional visits home, she rarely gets to attend services or events in her Jewish heritage. It’s kind of sad and frustrating; she was raised in a Jewish home but was never able to participate fully in all the milestone events, other than as an observer.

There’s no way she could travel to Mattoon to attend the occasional Sabbath service; the logistics just don’t work. But it was interesting to read about this small Reform congregation in her part of the state, and I’m glad that an Episcopal congregation has given them a home when it became impossible to maintain their building.

Equality Matters: Going Undercover At NOM’s Anti-Gay Student Conference Gives A Fascinating Glimpse Behind NOM’s Moderate Facade

When Carlos Maza, a gay activist who monitors the National Organization for Marriage, the “moderate” anti-gay marriage group (let’s face it, the ANTI-GAY HATE GROUP) went undercover to attend one of their weekend training sessions, he found himself connecting with another attendee in a surprising way.

Read the whole thing, it’s like a spy novel except with Leviticus-spouting Religious Right leaders trying to “turn” a roomful of impressionable college students, instead of Communist moles posing as tweed jacketed leather-patched college professors.

Yeah, it’s that complicated.

Also, take note of some interesting details:

  • Many of the college attendees were from either BYU or Arizona State
  • Most of the leaders were from the evangelical/fundamentalist/Biblical literalist end of the Protestant spectrum
  • These groups are normally suspicious of each other but they worked together to pass CA’s anti-gay (marriage)Prop 8
  • It’s not necessarily a good thing that the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco helped to ram Prop 8 down gays’ throats.
  • Retiring Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was involved in some kind of dialogue, curious about the reaction to him.
  • Someone who works for the Institute of Religion and Democracy was also there. They hate Bp. Gene.

Carlos attended the “It Takes A Family (To Raise A Village)” conference at the end of July, well before the Archbishop-Elect of San Francisco was arrested for drunk driving in San Diego, the same city where the conference was held. His election as Archbishop was announced with great joy and a little loathsomeness by one of the organizers while Carlos and other attendees were being bused to an event. Ugh.

In the empty lobby of a small hotel in San Diego, a conservative Mormon from Utah and a progressive gay activist from DC saw eye-to-eye on the overwhelming majority of “pro-family” and “pro-marriage” issues.

It was the kind of unholy alliance I never expected to form at an anti-gay conference.

Flying home the next morning, I thought about how small our differences had been all along. I’d spent the weekend thinking of myself as some kind of spy working behind “enemy lines,” assuming the worst about every person I met. I was terrified that I’d be discovered by the other attendees and felt certain that they’d turn on me the second they discovered who I was.

In reality, though, the “enemy lines” were a bit blurrier than I had imagined them to be. Most of the students who attended NOM’s ITAF conference weren’t anti-gay zealots; they’d decided to show up after hearing about the event from their professors, their churches, or their parents. Many of them, like the BYU student, were genuinely interested in preventing divorce and ensuring that married couples maintain healthy and lasting relationships. Few of them had ever even heard of the Ruth Institute before attending.

It seemed silly that I had spent all weekend feeling so embattled.

Then I remembered the Regnerus study – how NOM’s speakers had spent the weekend trying to depict gay parents as predatory towards their own children.

I remembered Gagnon’s speeches and NOM’s use of Christianity as a weapon to condemn LGBT people as unrepentant sinners.

And I remembered Leviticus.

The ideological divide between me and the BYU student may have been small, but NOM had spent the entire weekend trying to widen it by teaching her that gays and lesbians – including me – are unstable, dangerous, and unworthy of raising their own families. Despite the promise to focus on “marriage, not gayness,” ITAF had been a veritable crash course in demonizing LGBT people.

via EXCLUSIVE: Undercover At NOM’s Anti-Gay Student Conference | Equality Matters

Reactions are a little… mixed. I found this glowing account from St Paul’s Cathedral Blog (Episcopal Diocese of San Diego):

A fair amount of humor peppered the otherwise tense conversation. It was interesting to sit in the huge, warehouse-like sanctuary with my partner, Kathy, and to know that we were sitting right next to people who were opposed to gay marriage. Not a comfortable experience, but a good one, because it means that we can all be in one room together and discuss this hot topic without coming to blows.

Kudos to Skyline. Huge love and thanks to Bishop Robinson. My favorite picture is to the right! — Fearless Love:; Report From Skyline Church

But alas, tolerance is lacking in this official wrap-up (with slideshow) from the Ruth Institute blog:

Generally, the biblical voice is silenced or the event becomes so infused with allegations of “hate” that the arguments are no longer really heard. Sunday night was so different. Everything was heard and you could hear a pin drop. All the intelligence was on the biblical side; all the sentimentalism was on the gay side. Neither Rob nor Jennifer ever backed down… they made their points with great civility and lucidity. — A Conversation on the Definition of Marriage

Ah, ergh. I can only hope that the young people who had attended that weekend’s conferene were insufficiently indoctrinated to see it that way. The detail about praying over the facility to protect it from forces of conflict (which was somehow meant to keep the evil gay cooties at bay?) was kind of… weird and too much like “praying the gay away” to my mind.

I can’t really post this on the church blog; it’s too distracting and upsetting and political. And creepy! But I wanted to react to it, so here it is. UGH. To the National Organization for Marriage, and their education arm the Ruth Institute, that’s my reaction: UGH.

Your positions are not Christ-like, and you twist His words and say things He never said to support your position.

Here is everything Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said about homosexuality as it was understood in His time:

crickets

In my admittedly lacking Biblical knowledge, I do believe that Jesus said that the whole of the Law came down to just two things: love of God, and love of one’s neighbor. Well, one thing really: LOVE.

So that probably means that all that stuff in Leviticus about shellfish, mixing linen and wool, and killing gay people for LOVING EACH OTHER no longer applies. Because: LOVE.

And one last thing: This post is dedicated to the memory of John Thurman, who passed away after suffering a fall this week. His spouse Dave Fleer now must go on alone.

John never really recovered from a head injury received several years ago. He was badly beaten and left for dead in front of his home, in what was likely a hate crime. The assault was never solved, or even investigated to any degree by local police in Munster, Indiana.

That is the consequence of the HATE preached with sweet-sounding words behind closed doors by anti-gay groups like the “National Organization of Marriage.” Behind those doors, they admit that opposing marriage for gays polls a little better than opposing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for gays. They pass out handouts to young people emphasizing that gays should be killed, and “their blood shall be upon them.” As in, “you get a free pass for killing the gay neighbor, because it’s not really murder, God says it’s OK”

Like I said, UGH. Thanks to Carlos Maza’s courageous (and initially mischievous) undercover work, the cover is pulled back on NOM to reveal them as something unwholesome, and definitely not following the two greatest commandments.

Happy Easter! I’m Off To Sing The Hallelujah Chorus

It’s that time of year again – I’m singing at the Easter Vigil tonight at St Nicholas, and we’re doing the Hallelujah Chorus tonight and tomorrow. Much like in 2007, in fact, but we’re much more experienced now, and the freshening we’ve felt with Father Manny beginning his tenure has been a LOT of fun!

I’m also the web and social media boffin for St Nick’s so I do the website, Twitter, Facebook, and whatever else that’s internet-y. So I’m always interested to know how people find St Nick’s. I’m also on the Welcome Committee, just  so that all makes a kind of sense.

Work is good too – not that busy, but expected to get busier after the “spring break lull.” One exciting thing: we’re all going to be working from home, the entire office. It’ll be a big undertaking but I’ve asked to be put on the list for the first wave. One of my teammates is already working from home and loves it, and I have a spare bedroom that’s small enough to be kind of ideal for a home office. All the tech gear and connection will be handled by the office, so we’ll be very interested to see how they deal with the wiring.

I’m looking for computer parts these days anyway; my desktop computer lost the graphics card I upgraded it with (WAAAAH!) so I’m limping along on the default one. So far it looks like we’ll swap for a bigger case and power supply, and then there’ll be room for a good quality graphics card. Hoping to spend less than $500 on it, maybe a lot less as prices are about to come down.

Anyway, Easter. My music is all collated, in spite of the best efforts of my choir mistress to keep throwing new pieces of music and hymns in that she planned for but never gave out because it was “in our Anglican DNA” and thus something we ought to know. Ah, well, it’ll be a good service and I’ll be very, very happy when we get through the “big stuff” like the Hallelujah Chorus.I also get to chant in the dark, which is always… fraught, but fun when it sounds good.

More later. Happy Easter, can’t wait to see who Bunny Stig turns out to be at church tomorrow.

Potential images for my banner from Hawaii trip, and Father Manny’s Purple Poncho

Ho, well, I never post anymore, blah de blah. We had a wonderful time in Hawaii, pictures are all still on my laptop and need to be culled and copied to my desktop machine. However, I found a few on the card that was in my camera this morning when I took a picture of Father Manny in his purple Lenten poncho (okay, church purists, it’s a chausuble).

Here’s one of his photo-op pictures, which will shortly be uploaded to the St Nicholas Facebook page and used on the website for the rest of Lent.

I enjoy “Faddah” Manny’s sermons so much; he’s open, friendly and approachable, pretty much as he is in this picture. Today’s sermon started out as a commentary on that famous reading from John that includes “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

OOH! Here’s the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir singing John Stainer’s “God So Loved The World,” a piece we sang at St Nick’s last year during Holy Week. I love singing this piece – and we’re only about 8-10 voices WITH the extra people who ring in for the big services. St Paul’s is a traditional Anglican choir with boy altos and sopranos. I particularly love the twitchy boy in the final closeup – he’s next to the kid that the camera zooms in on.

We sound a bit more like this choir:

Anyway, after that musical interlude, more photography and churchy stuff, and finally, a soaring bit of Hawaii.

The background was chosen because there was too much backlight when he was at the altar, coming from the windows behind him. He had someplace to be so I quickly directed him over by the font, which is “dressed” for Lent. Note the empty font pool behind him, and the arrangement of leafless branches; the symbolism is stark, but the potential for life and renewal is there in the coming of Spring and the water of Life. The folks responsible for decorating the church for the liturgical seasons have really been creative this year; they’ve been given free rein and the result has been interesting, engaging, and tasteful while also being innovative and working with a minuscule budget. I can’t wait to see what they do on Holy Saturday for the Great Vigil; the sanctuary will be full of light and spring flowers, I know that.

Today was nice as we had another new person attending with her young son, and last week’s new person was there with her daughter too. The kid’s program is really unfolding in a neat way -today was another of the “Children’s Gospel” Sundays, where the kids go to the Noah’s Ark area (a comfortable lounge with couches off the main gathering space) and conduct their own service and read the Gospel, then talk about it. They get invited forward before the first reading, and are then sent off to do their thing (supervised and guided, of course, but it’s their activity). They return to their families just before the Eucharist (communion) and we seem to have it working well. Other Sundays, they either are with their families, or they actually help conduct the main service; the committee that designed the program figures it’s easier for families to schedule things for specific Sundays due to the sports and extracurricular activities they’re signed up for other weeks.

In other churchy news that’s also funny, we’ve somehow put our hands (paws?) on an Easter Bunny costume, which belongs to St Bede’s Bensenville. They’re merging with us at St Nicholas in May, so there’s been some sharing back and forth (I need to try to take some photos next week to send over there of us as a “get to know you” thing). They are bringing some treasures with them – among them some stunningly beautiful Stations of the Cross, which have already been installed along our back wall and will be used (I think at the Good Friday service). But they also offered the bunneh suit, and Faddah Manny was game for running out the back at the end of the Easter Sunday service, de-ponchoing (he’ll be wearing the cream/gold festive chausuble that day) and hopping (heh) into the bunny suit. Well, that’s clearly not workable, so we’ll find someone else to be the bunneh. In fact, we need a Bunneh Stig.

We somehow need to meld this:

with THIS.

In related news, it appears that The Stig may simply have been hatched from an egg, so Bunny Stig is actually entirely possible.

And on that bombshell I’ll move on to the soaring pictures from Hawaii.

We went for a drive down along the North Shore one day on Oahu, and more or less blundered into yet another area that was historically significant in World War II, but had seen its glory days pass by, Dillingham Airfield. I have picture on the laptop of the signs for it, but quickly switched to a new card when I noticed some interesting activity on the tarmac.

Got it together quickly enough to get this and other similar pictures:

They flew around a bit, and then the glider was released and the little yellow plane came back down to line up for the next go-around. The glider landed:

Glider N387BA landing, its single wheel just inches from the asphalt

Managed to get it just before the single wheel kissed asphalt (OOH!).

Glider N387BA getting tow cable set for another go around Dillingham Field

It came to a stop and the pilot hopped out to hook up the cable for another go-around. Lovely day for soaring. I know very little about gliders other than the obvious, but this looked like a lot of fun. There were a couple of outfits there that seemed to be selling glider rides but it looks like this was flown by Honolulu Soaring. I can’t get the tail number to match up with them – glider N387BA is registered in Alabama, but there are mentions of it being at Dillingham. The tow plane is a pretty distinctive little yellow guy with a great big GRRRR!! toothy grin.

I’ve made banner images for a couple of the other pictures and will be adding more, you’ll see them appear if you refresh a time or two.

How to use the Facebook Photo Strip on your Fan Page | Make It In Music

I’ll work on this for my own Facebook page, which I totally neglect. More importantly, I’ll work on this for the St Nicholas Episcopal Church Facebook page, which I’m trying to keep reasonably up-to-date.

Detail of how to size photos to optimize for Facebook's photo strip

Facebook now allows all images to be viewed in their new photo viewer. Therefore, you want the images that you use for the photo strip to open up large if clicked on. When they are displayed in the photo strip the images are each 97 pixels wide by 68 pixels tall 97px by 68px.But, if you upload them at that size they will appear the same size – i.e. tiny – in the photo viewer.Most people have been recommending that you simply make your images 970 pixels wide by 680 pixels tall 970px by 680px, and this is fine, to a degree! It’s the same ratio, just 10 times bigger.The problem is that Facebook then shrinks the images to fit in the photo strip, but it doesn’t centralise the image – just to be difficult.

via How to use the Facebook Photo Strip on your Fan Page | Make It In Music

Fannie May Fundraiser: Chocolate Pix

We’re doing a Fannie May Chocolates fundraiser at St Nick’s and a friend who lives pretty far from me wants to get something. Unfortunately, we can’t do it by credit card (unless I maybe have her pay my PayPal account – IDEA!) or she mails me a check. At least getting the chocolates to her is a snap: I can put her mailing address on the order form and they’ll go direct to her.

She wants Mint Meltaways and an assortment, but I need to know which size box, and which assortment. Also, there’s sugar free Mint Meltaways now. Rather than put prices here, I’ll email them to her, as I don’t really want to take the time to set up a frickin’ shopping cart on Paypal that pays the church direct right now as I’d need to set it up with the Wardens’ approval and the tax ID and bank info (and I’d need to verify if Fannie May would have a problem with selling online, since they don’t do the fundraisers that way). I don’t mind absorbing the small service charge if my friend tries the Paypal route.

Here’s the goodies that I think she wants – sorry I didn’t have time to hunt down links, as Fannie May doesn’t have their holiday collection online yet.

There’s plain Mint Meltaways (8 oz. and 1 lb. boxes) and “holiday” Mint Meltaways (1 lb box). There are “no sugar” varieties available. Same with the Pixies (aka Turtles).

The assortment she wants is probably the Colonial Assortment (1 lb. or 2 lb. boxes)

There’s also pre-wrapped Gift Towers – the big one is 2 lbs. 8 oz. and the smaller one is “just” 2 lb. They’re handy as hostess gifts.