Stress-Induced Total Immobility Syndrome: Too Much SITS, not enough getting ‘er done (till now).

Here’s one of my church chums giving the sermon today, in a badass ensemble consisting of a prayer stole or preaching stole and a fine Cubs T-shirt. We’re still in Summer Casual mode at Holy Moly.

When I’m under pressure and feeling overwhelmed, I SITS around a lot watching TV, goofing around on Twitter, and sending texts and postcards to random Congresspeople and government departement secretaries. Yesterday, I was up against a hard time limit and solved a technical issue with one of my website/blogs that’s been frustrating me for months.

So, finally, I went back to church at Holy Moly for the first time since JUNE. I had to, today was the first day the choir was supposed to be “back in black,” hence my self-imposed hard time limit. The church website absolutely had to show updates, or I’d have to deal with more questions as to why outdated posts about EASTER were still visible on the static main page.

My conscience is now clear. You can see the result of much needless agita at St Nicholas Episcopal Church.

Still some cosmetic tweaks needed, but the timely content is front and center, and it’s easy to update. Now for figuring out the easiest way for a couple of more people to have update access. The biggest hurdle is cleared at last.

My extended absence each week kept getting longer and longer, because aside from not being able to figure out a frustrating technical issue with the church website (which is now licked), I had gotten much too slack and comfortable about Sunday morning sleep-ins.

It started out just being “the choir is off for the summer” but it turned into many more things left undone than I could cope with, and I didn’t want to show up until I figured them out.

However, late last night I finally implemented some dang useful tools for administering the Holy Moly website. They are the same tools that I was playing around with here at Blogula Rasa that greatly simplify and streamline the task of writing, publishing, and sharing a blog post to social media.

The problem starts with my own lack of confidence, exacerbated by a tendency to self-distract and hare off into an expending state of spin. If I had to get something done, I needed to get three or four other things done first that “weren’t working right” or bugging me. And those things would generate more and more things that frustrated or stymied me.

Since I have this blog, and a couple of other personal blogs, and the church website/blog to administer, if something stops working on one site, it has to be dealt with at the other sites, which all have different themes and back-end plugins and style sheets to cope with.

Add to that, a disinclination to spend much time at my “home computer” desk, which is a bit of a cobbled-together arrangement that’s not all that comfortable. I used to spend hours and hours online, chatting or fooling around with a 3D design program (which is fiendishly frustrating in itself). But more than a year ago, I stopped going online, and started spending more time discussing the bizarre events of the American presidential election on Twitter and Facebook. I kind of dropped a lot of balls with my online social contacts.

And add to THAT, complete frustration with trying to update my two most important blog/websites on a small mini iPad rather than wrestling with an older laptop that’s badly in need of updating. I use WordPress, and the web interface on the iPAd in Safari is hard to work with, with a maddening tendency to throw a “server not responding, lost connection” error that is related to the wireless keyboard I use. I’d find myself spending an HOUR just trying to write, annotate, and SAVE (save, save, save) a draft. Forget trying to publish, that took at least 5 or 10 tries and required turning off the wireless keyboard and pressing the Publish button for JUST the right amount of time. Sometimes I’d start updating and give up, furious. The desktop was uncomfortable, the laptop unworkable, the iPad a complete torture.

Frankly, it was easier to just post something on Twitter, rather than make my self crazy trying to write anything longer than 140 characters.

Meanwhile, all the blogs used a variety of plugins that were supposed to automate the task of reposting content to various Facebook pages and Twitter. It worked for a long time, and then gradually, some plugins stopped working, other plugins announced they were ceasing to be supported. Don’t even get me started on how Google stopped developing Picasa, that was the backbone of my large collection of seasonally appropriate images for the church website, that also semi automated sending photos to the church Facebook page and Flickr.

I stayed away from church because I got tired of explaining to people why the church website wasn’t getting updated each week; one of my church chums is a solid rock of dependability who sends nicely formatted Constant Comment newsletters every Tuesday without fail; all I have to do is copy/paste some essays, news items, and stock images, and aside from the back-end plugins not working, the church website at least could be a snap. Except that I kept putting off wrestling with it, for months.

For a while I relied on IFTTT recipes to deal with reposting at Facebook (the church likes FB’s ability to show events, photos, etc.) and also reposting to Twitter. But that was cumbersome. I couldn’t face my chums (or Father Manny), so I stayed away.

Then, at Blogula Rasa, I stumbled on to a whole suite of plugins called Jetpack, that everyone else in WordPress-land has been using forever.

One plugin replaced four or five (or more ) other plugins, and solved their weird conflicts and interdependencies. It even simplified how stuff is displayed on the side column (though I’m still using a creaky old method for “sideblogging” that requires me to use the horrible Safari web inteface).

Jetpack made it simple to link multiple blogs to the clean interface at WordPress.com, and also to the vastly improved (and beautifully un-distracting) editor for the WordPress for iOS app. Either way, I write a post that can be saved as a draft, and published, with NO crazymaking “lost connection, failed to save” errors. I deleted all the outdated, superfuous plugins, surrendered to the iOS app, and suddenly, it’s easy and pleasurable to write again. All the little extra doodads and widgets that I had, have Jetpack versions that are powerful, configurable, and a snap.

Once I started implementing and updating at the church website, I had one set of somewhat tedious tasks that I had been procrastinating on.

Even though “recent posts” showed up as links in the Holy Moly sidebar, the folks at church wanted to see news and upcoming events as posts on the main page, which is static. I hadn’t used “sticky” posts, I had been messing with adding excerpts by hand (and it was a pain). I looked at “under the hood” solutions that I didn’t understand, and then found one more plugin for pulling in content that is highly recommended, implemented on more than 50,000 sites, and recently updated.

Now, I have 3 different categories visible as slick sliding menus; I could make them look like a grid, or nested, or whatever. But any post I create in those 3 categories will appear on the main page of the Holy Moly site. As long as I add a featured image, they display nicely without resorting to the macro-keys I used for adding my beloved (but horribly dated) drop shadows. This is another reason I was using the horrible Safari browser interface for blogging, because it had access to my customized editor.

I went to church this morning with a clear conscience, knowing that the front page of the church website has updated content about upcoming events. Never mind about all the stuff I never got around to posting for events over the summer.

As my church chum Bill’s sermon covered forgiving a sinner up to 77 times, I figure I was stuck on 76rpm…right up until I found the way to simplify my process and just get ‘er done. The sensation of not spinning or flailing is wonderful.

No longer immobilized by stress, there’s the matter of my online social and technical obligations to tackle, and a rather big birthday coming up next week. And a new chair for my uncomfortable desk. And more bike riding. And…

Well, that’s enough to go on with for now.

Remembering Pete Seeger: The Banks Of Marble

My friend the late Fr. Paul Brouillette was huge Seeger fan and fellow banjo player; he once played and sang this in church. He was that kind of guy, and today he welcomes his hero to the celestial jam session.

I once heard a young Occupy Chicago protester sing it via a live Internet feed. Still relevant, still rousing the rabble, Seeger’s passing means the banksters have one less whiny folksinger to criticize them.

Dusting It Off, Coff Coff

Yes, yes, Ginny Who? here.

It’s been a busy and eventful few months since our vacation in Hawaii… whoa, really. There’s a lot going on in the family (can’t blog about that) and there’s a lot going on at Holy Moly (hey, Faddah Manny is our vicar now!).

My husband David had a little contretemps with a local streetlamp the other day while riding his bike, and now sports a nifty scrape on one of his legs. He pointed the lamppost out tonight on our way back from dinner with his brother Dan and said “That’s the lamppost. I’m plotting my insidious revenge.” It’s something to do with pink paint and humiliations galore.

My new computer is running pretty, okay really quite REALLY REALLY well after I stepped back from the latest nVidia driver – I was getting something called the “Pink Screen of Death” when I’d finish watching a YouTube video or log off of Second Life and had run across references to a driver conflict on a support page. So that’s all good and fine, and I hope to be doing more regular blogging and stuff inworld and outworld again.

I tried to get the old Express App working with the Woo Tumblog plugin – this is just so I can easily blog links and photos and quotes from my iPhone, all of which are possible but not easy with the “official” WordPress app for iPhone. However, the instructions for getting it working don’t relate at all to the structure of the NomNom theme I now use (and lurve, lurve, lurve).

The church website at Holy Moly looks great, needs some updating with some content stuff Faddah Manny sent me – we’ve got videos now! I’ll be doing some better graphics on the main page; what I have now was a stopgap from back when I was under… some design constraints from above (not from Above, just… above).

Family stuff… well, things proceed with all deliberate speed (both happy things and sad things). That’s about all I can say about that. David’s diabetes ride training is going pretty well except for the evil lamppost incident, and I’m coughing my head off with a stupid spring cold that’s settled into an annoying barking hackfest. Am now on prescription meds that have worked in the past to head off the dreaded “bronchitis that does not quit even for summer, nyah nyah.”

It started a week ago Sunday, suddenly; I thought it was allergies because I’d been dusting and fooling around emptying the Roomba, because I just started coughing, sneezing, and had runny nose and eyes. Nope, it was a cold. I even stayed home for 3 days last week.

Speaking of staying home, next week I’ve got the week off, and toward the weekend, I’ll be… heh heh, blogging from a magical kingdom. And later in the summer, if things go well, I’ll start working from home (using the smallest bedroom as a home office).

Whee! Well, I’m hoping that it’ll mean that some of my “allergy triggers” from the poor air circ at work will be a thing of the past. The room has a real, openable window, and a ceiling fan. So, YAY! At least during reasonable weather, fresh air won’t be a problem. And during winter and summer, there won’t be the stuffy “bad air” triggers that have been getting worse and worse for me at work the last few years.

If the technology can be installed properly (the internal structure of the house might make the install tricky), it’s going to be really great. One of my co-workers is already working from home and loves it (another co-worker actually relocated to Phoenix and kept her same position and team, she REALLY loves it).

That’s about all there is to that. This is the public knowledge part, anyway, and I don’t know much more about it than the bare bones. Looking forward to it and hoping that there won’t be any hitches or glitches.

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.

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.

The Weekend of Awesome

Let’s see… it’s Wednesday, so I’ve finally recovered from the barrage of total neatorama that occured last weekend. My husband David’s birthday luau, and some HTML and CSS geekery, and then on Sunday evening, we actually MADE IT TO WOOTSTOCK V2.2 IN CHICAGO!!!!!!!11!! (my bangs, they go to 11).

If you’ve spent any time reading here, you know we’re really big fans of going to Hawaii, and we’ve been to a bunch of luaus and other Hawaiian-type dinner shows over the years. We’ve even gone with friends, and done goofy things with them just because we were in Hawaii.

But Friday’s dinner at a local strip-mall based eatery called the Tiki Terrace was one of the best times we’ve had in years – at least, without having to spend 6 hours stuffed into Economy Minus and suffer jet leg. While we were waiting for the dinner-and-a-show thing to start, we were discussing some of our adventures from long ago, when we totally BURIED STEVE and would have left him there if we could have.  Because we’d still be there if we had.

If Only Steve Had Stayed Buried

That’s our friend Earle on the left, and David’s best friend Steve in the middle,  who organized the evening at Tiki Terrace. Earle’s wife Sandy couldn’t be there on Friday or we almost would have had the old band together (we went with 5 friends in 2004).

Earle also enjoys Hawaiian culture and so I was pretty sure he was enjoying the ambiance at the Tiki Terrace.

Anyway, it was hella fun, because there was a special guest at the show. I started to get excited, thinking it was one of the performers we might have seen on our visits to the islands, but it turned out to be vastly better than that. After all, this is a place that features ginormous Easter Island statues and superior tiki decor, all in a long narrow dining room stuck in a suburban strip mall. My sister-in-law Gloria and I discussed the origins of Tiki culture, which we decided were probably rooted in the collective conciousness of thousands of WWII GIs coming home with island crap and deciding to start a bar, while we waited for the special guest to come out.

Aloha from Tiki Elvis

Tiki Elvis wonders if you are lonely tonight

Yes! It’s Tiki Elvis! He sings for you! Admit it, you were expecting maybe Iz? Or Don Ho?

Sure, it’s kitschy — very kitschy, but also cozy and friendly and fun. They’re open 7 days a week, but the hula show is only on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s like a one-night vacation, and we’re probably going to go back when the mood strikes us (reservations are probably essential for show nights).

Serious Hula, Bro

They also have some very good hula dancers, plus the obligatory host who sings a little, jokes a little, and dances a little — and the bartender will come out and sing something if everybody claps hard enough (he’s very good,  but any resemblance to Tiki Elvis is strictly coininkidental).

The surprising thing is that everybody in the front of house is pretty young – even the host, who sported tailbone-length hair and some serious tattoos when he came out to do a New Zealand men’s haka with the other male dancer. They were both very impressive, and actually I got a little irritated at the tableful of tween girls who were shrieking and giggling at the shirtless tattooed guys wearing nothing but muscles and tightly knotted pareus.

Guess I could hardly blame them, it was clearly their first adult-type birthday outing (they were wearing lots of that Libby Lu girly-girly makeup stuff).

The service is friendly, the crowd is clearly there to have a good time (there was one very large party celebrating a big birthday) and the menu is pretty reasonable (it’s all prix-fixe luau food, but appetizers and desserts are extra).

The only problem we had was that we finished dinner a little too close to the beginning of the show, and our dessert orders couldn’t come out until long after the show had finished, so we did wait what seemed like a really long time for our tropical desserts. Our waitress was cute and pretty attentive, but she did kind of disappear when we were wondering if she’d forgotten about the sweets.

David was adamant about not going up on stage for any hula shenanigans so we all maintained radio silence when the time came for the obligatory “let’s get all the birthday people up here and make them do the hula” portion of the evening. Honestly, the guys they DID get up there did a fine job of goofing around, and the stage was kind of small anyway.

So once it was over, we all headed for home, wearing our luau finery, and it looks like we’ll have to make a group trip of it this February for Steve’s 50th… oh, dear.

But that’s not all the awesome! There’s even moar!

Helpless Flailing Eventually Results In New Church Website Going Live

Okay, not that awesome actually, but it’s been kind of an issue for some weeks/months/years that the design we went with after the merger was not what we had discussed when I stepped back from being a webmistress and just maintained the church blog (more or less).

Actually, it got to be kind of depressing how I could not seem to get a link to the blog from the church main page, because the previous webmaster had hosted it through Yahoo and kept losing the link every time he updated some news item on the front page. I had given up asking him to put a real, premanent link on there… but he was very busy with seminary so it wasn’t a very big priority.

Anyway, he’s on track towards ordination as a deacon now and had to hand off the web duties, and there was no one else at church with ANY kind of ability to do a web page, so I was asked to take it on. I agreed, as long as we could completely re-do the site, and host it, and convert it over to a WordPress installation much as I had done with the old Holy Innocents site. For one thing, I wanted to be able to do most of the rejiggering, with David’s help, and not have to do it with Front Page, which I had not been crazy about before.

And so here it is although it’s really just a fancy mockup of what I hope to do with it – the main page will probably get a major makeover as I re-learn the stuff I want to do with images in GIMP and catch up on what CSS can do – for now it’s arranged with simple tables (please don’t view source, eek). I did at least manage to produce the background images and banner image (the photo strip isn’t my work, it’s one element I brought over from the previous layout).

There were technical problems and delays getting the domain registration transfered from the previous hosting service, and frankly it took much too long because of it being too complicated… but the middle of last week, it was finalized at last, and I had been fooling with a highly customizable blog template, creating pages to put the content in, and messing with what became the static front page.

Saturday night it was almost ready to “cut over,” and I was messing around on Facebook uploading some photos I’d found on my hard drive when I got an IM from the former webmaster, chiding me about the lateness of the hour and reminding me I had church in the morning. So that turned out to be fun and I’m glad for him that he’s finally on his way toward ordination, after kind of being stuck in the process while at St Nick’s. What with one thing and another, we didn’t actually cut everything over from old to new until last night, but it was essentially done Saturday except for minor styling changes.

So yeah, talked to people at church, got the final “Oh, Ginny, I’d like you to” aesthetic tweaks from Father Steve, and then it was time to go home and prepare for what became THE MOST AWESOME AWESOMENESS that occured on Sunday night, ever, in the history of the world.

W00tSTOCK CHICAGO V2.2

W00tstock Chicago poster

Poster by Len Peralta/@jawboneradio (CC Some Rights Reserved)

David had his iPhone and his brand new Canon EOS 7D, the one with the really good video (used in a recent commercial). I had my iPhone and an excessive amount of screaming w00tiness.

Both are in evidence in the following:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlHtIrOtYqE

I can be heard laughing in the background saying “eBay!” at one point. But mostly it’s Mr Savage’s party piece (with rather impressive hardware).

There was just SO MUCH w00ty goodness, so many funny people and cartoonists and musicians and people doing readings from books and talking about losing their Rocky Horror virginity… great overview here, in  fact, as my memory is just one happy shouty jumble.

I took a few pictures with the iPhone and tweeted a HELL of a lot:

Flickr

Sign in the parking garage we eventually found right around the back of the Park West venue. Duh. $20 well spent.

Flickr

Paul and Storm singing “We’re the Opening Band.”

Flickr

Ceiling Cat was the default desktop on the media screens when they weren’t playing cartoons, Moments with Wil, or showing pictures of destitute Stormtroopers panhandling. Some of the comedy came from minor glitches with volume or opening the wrong file. Everything got a big laugh, because everything was funny. It was the kind of instant geek nationhood that springs up at a good convention.

Wootstock Tweets

mai tweets, let me show you them

Here’s a great picture of Peter Sagal that David took – in character as a henchman who dreams of being the hero for once.

WWDTM's Peter Sagal, as The Henchman

Thanks to @jernst, there’s audio, and it’s all shareable and whatnot.  You must listen! It’s too big to upload here.

There’s all kinds of photos on Flickr and Twitter, and there’s stuff from Minneapolis, the next night in the tour, all over everywhere.

Monday at work was…. painful as we didn’t get home until about 130am. The show is billed as “3 Hours of Geeks and Music” but actually it’s closer to 4 or 5 (depending on how much digressing is going on, and how long it takes to get through the last song).

Give you an idea; during the show, a recurring them was “but I digress.” So David registered a domain, www.butidigress.net. Don’t know what he’ll do with it – maybe collect lists of cover bands and tribute bands (hard to explain why that would be funny, watch some of the videos).

Yeah. I can’t wait until the next version comes out.

Lo, he comes with clouds descending

Got to sing this at the early service, but at a brisker pace and with no fancy soprano descant at the end. Lawd, that’s a pretty one! Must pass that one along to Her Musical Nibs at St Nick’s for next year.

Lo, he comes with clouds descending | Seven whole days

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/jjn3fBTvBjY" width="425" height="344" wmode="transparent" /]

Tempestuous Teapot: Never Mind! No Reciprocal Border Crossing Planned

As you were. #episcopalian #anglican #kerfuffle
PRELUDIUM: Bp. Anderson paranoia a copy-cat caper.

Bishop David Anderson let loose with a dozy of a conspiracy theory last week. I reported on it HERE. It turns out the theory was lifted from a though piece by The Rev’d Geoffrey M. St.J. Hoare, the rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia. That essay was picked up by Jonathan Wynne-Jones in an article titled, “Americans planning to start a civil war in the Church of England.” The thread was in turn picked up by Episcopal Cafe in “One plus one equals six hundred sixty six“. It would appear that at some point along the line Bishop Anderson picked up on Fr. Hoare’s post, or on Wynne-Jones’ article, and lept with joy to see such nasty doings by those awful Episcopalians, and it just all got out of hand.

Andrew Gerns of Episcopal Cafe noted,

” What Wynne-Jones doesn’t say is that at the end of the blog, Fr. Hoare says that, based on responses he has seen to his own thinking-out-loud, there is no energy for such a strategy.

Oh well there you are, and I had enthusiastically volunteered my parish at Father Jake‘s and Mad Priest‘s blogs for this imaginary “partnership network of inclusive, progressive parishes” idea and everything. Which was just a copy-cat caper of the whole exclusive, conservative parishes thing, really. I shun’ta done it.

But I still think Mad Priest is right to make as noisy a racket as possible to raise the alarum in the English church that a most un-Anglican compromise is about to be finalized over there.

Wait, How Do You Grow By Excluding People Again?

As a liberal Episcopalian, I cheered and was cheered by the passage of several inclusive, progressive resolutions at the recently concluded convention. We can go forward now, I think. #ecgc
Pared-Down Episcopal Church Is Looking to Grow Through ‘Inclusivity’ – NYTimes.com
Not everybody agrees with this view, or is happy about the changes – even some in my own state, in the two more conservative dioceses downstate, away from the Chicago urban/suburban area. They are genuinely grieved, and they believe that the church is in the process of ruining itself. I don’t agree; I think we are finally ready to progress for the first time in years. I’ve spent 10 years in the Diocese of Chicago in two small mission parishes; the first one died because people stopped coming (possibly because we had 2 gay priests in a row). At least, that was the view of the conservatives who left, shaking the dust of our space from their sandals.

I think the first one died because we were too busy trying worrying about keeping things going “just as they always had been done” and not busy enough worrying about problems other people outside the church were having keeping things going “just to keep their heads above water.” Also, it didn’t help when one beloved priest left after only a few years. I think she saw the inevitable closure more clearly than any of us were prepared to accept, and as she had a family commitment, she left us to struggle on a few more years. It was harder for people to relate to our newer priest, we started on a bad financial footing with him, and a number of people stopped coming (possibly because they didn’t want to take on more responsibilities than merely putting their bottoms in the seats on Sundays). There were definitely people who objected to having gay clergy, and the slide in numbers kept happening after Bishop Gene was elected in New Hampshire, but we also had a steady trickle of new people who came every Sunday, saw we were hopelessly in decline, and never came back.

I was surprised to run into some of them when we merged with another nearby mission parish that was much more vibrant and dynamic; it was partly the style of worship we’d practiced (the “just as we’ve always done it” kind) that had turned them off. We now have a blended style during the summer, and two services during the winter, and have a food pantry program that’s really starting to take off. There’s a lot more good being done that we were ever capable of imagining at my first Chicagoland parish, and we’re now in the process of building an addition with Diocesan funds (proceeds from the sale of the former mission, too). We’re inclusive, big time. Everyone gets a welcome. And we’re growing, much as one young man featured in this article thinks will happen.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church is betting its future on the hope that there are more young people out there like Will Hay.

Mr. Hay, 17, was one of the youngest voting delegates at the church’s 10-day triennial convention, which ended Friday. He has stuck with his church, even when the priest and most of the parishioners in his conservative San Diego parish quit the Episcopal Church two years ago in protest of its liberal moves, particularly the approval in 2003 of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson. Mr. Hay has helped rebuild his parish, which was left with 48 people and has since drawn nearly 100 new members.

Mr. Hay is no left-wing ideologue, and in fact fears that some of the convention’s landmark decisions last week may alienate even more conservatives. The church’s convention voted not to stand in the way if another gay bishop were elected and to allow for the blessing of same-sex couples.

But Mr. Hay was not troubled by those things. And he believes that the church can grow by emphasizing “inclusivity,” the favorite buzzword of Episcopalians.

We have at least 6 or 8 gay couples/family groups, we’ve got people of color, we’ve got young families and older seniors. About the only thing we don’t have in any great quantity is tweens and teens, although there’s a few college and post-collegiate people. We’re hoping with the increased space for programs and groups we’ll be able to do more with what we’ve got, and attract more people from a variety of demographics.

So far, they have paid a price for their actions. Four bishops, the majority of their dioceses and numerous parishes around the country jumped ship in the last few years to form a new, theologically conservative entity called the Anglican Church in North America. That group will not consecrate women, not to mention gay men and lesbians, as bishops. It has about 100,000 members, while the Episcopal Church has about two million.

But a church study shows that membership declined about 6 percent from 2003 to 2007.

The Episcopal Church also saw its contributions decline, though church experts say it is hard to know how much of that drop is attributable to the economic downturn. The convention voted last week to cut the budget by $23 million over three years and eliminate about 30 out of 180 staff positions at church headquarters in New York and other locations.

Those four bishops, and the priests they controlled, were at the heart of the strife in the Episcopal Church in the last few decades. Others have followed the threads of their disaffection already, but their departure has been planned for a very long time. At the time of the LAST convention, when Bishop Gene’s election had to be ratified by the entire gathering due to its timing, the Diocese of Washington (DC) came out with something called Following the Money.

The whole “Episcopal Church in schism” story is big news precisely because the small faction that resisted progress and preferred exclusion over inclusion was extremely well financed by outside entities. SOMEBODY is paying for all those trips back and forth between Africa and Virginia, home turf for some of the big name players in the continuing drama.

These outsiders have actually been bent on destroying all the mainline Christian churches, not just the Episcopalian Church, from within, or to turn them more conservative by taking them over from within. Some of our own more conservative bishops (and conservative priests coveting the power and prestige a pointy hat brings) have been used as pawns in this process.

The disaffected people are two different kinds of conservatives that are not necessarily compatible with each other; evangelical are allied with Anglo-catholic (note small “c”) traditionalists. The two wings disagree on doctrine, but agree on principle, which is apparently TEH GAY RUINING EVERYTHING. Something like this is playing out in the English church now, with the added irony that there are scads of gay priests and not a few gay bishops, but they’re all understood to be tastefully closeted. The conservatives will shortly begin to squabble over women’s ordination (the “Low Church” evangelicals will mostly be okay with it, the “High Church” ritualists will resist until their dying day). There are other issues that will divide them, such as fine details like what gestures to make, what to wear, and when or whether to use incense.

They are convinced, however, that the rest of us back at the Episcopal Ranch are going to hell in a handbasket, and that we’re actually worshiping Satan or Buddha or the Old Gods or whatnot. They absolutely do believe this; their websites and blogs are full of bile, and they seem to have a hardened-bunker mentality when it comes to Scriptural interpretation and theology.

To theological conservatives, these are signs of a church that will ultimately collapse because it has sold its soul to secular political causes. Two conservative bishops who have remained in the Episcopal Church appeared at a news briefing last week organized by a conservative Anglican group and mourned the direction their church has taken.

“I am a lifelong Episcopalian, a lifelong Anglican,” said Bishop William Love of Albany, who appeared on the verge of tears. “It is breaking my heart to see the church destroy itself.

“Rather than being a blessing for the church, I believe ultimately it will be a curse on the church. Rather than bringing more people into the church, I believe it will drive more people away.”

Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Ill., said, “It’s a disaster.”

But when asked whether they would lead their dioceses out of the church, both bishops said probably not. Part of the reason was that they would be likely to face legal wrangling over properties, and part is simply their faithfulness to the church.

“I have not sensed that this is the direction the Lord is calling us to,” Bishop Love said. “It all depends on what you focus on. My intent is to keep us focused on Jesus Christ and not on the storm.”

It may be that all the motivated conservative bishops and parishes that considered homosexuality the deal breaker have already left, or have just grown tired of fighting.

I sense that the Lord has always been calling us to come out of our comfort zones and consort with people we wouldn’t normally meet. I sense that the Lord is always welcoming the outcast and those society considers unclean.

With all the conflict-inciters mostly gone or leaving, it’s amazing how much got done at this most recent General Convention. In years past, the joke was that the conservative faction had no “YES” buttons at all when using their electronic voting gadgets. Or, that they simply held the “NO” buttons down at all times, even during dinner and social events. They also refused to take communion with other bishops in attendance at meetings (not just at General Communion). For years there was a simmering feud over “table fellowship” and whether one of the most prominent bishops would flounce out in a be-mitred huff when it appeared they might have to take communion from someone who voted to sustain Bishop Gene’s election, or God forbid, a WOMAN. At the ALTAR.

I disagree with both quoted bishops; I think the movement forward made by the Convention this cycle is surely more blessing than disaster. We can now begin to include more people than we might have thought possible, people who might not have come near a church in years out of fear of the kind of reception they might have. I’m more inclined to agree with young Mr. Hay, that a more inclusive church is bound to welcome more seekers than a church that would choose to exclude some of them.

Mr. Hay, the 17-year-old convention deputy, said he knew that other conservative Episcopal parishes in San Diego were “on the fence,” and he hoped they would not depart.

“What it’s about is keeping people at the table,” he said, “pushing more discussion.”

Well, part of the problem is that we’ve spent decades trying to keep people at the table, pushing more discussion. In the case of civil rights, more than a century has been spend wrangling over the issue. Decades ago, the Episcopal Church was often described as “The Republican Party at prayer,” but that old saw hasn’t been accurate for a long time. Something happened after the tumult of the Civil Rights efforts and the Vietnam War protests; a lot of people became priests that came from a social justice background, and women’s ordination followed not long after the end of the war. Just before that, a new Prayer Book had come out, which caused no end of ructions and there were splits and schisms over that and the advent of the women priests. A number of these smaller offshoots are banding together with the group formed around our most recent doctrinal émigrés. As to whether their group will be recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a new province of the Anglican Communion is anybody’s guess, and neither is it clear whether we’d have to be tossed out on our arses to make room.

Well, we’d rather not be tossed out. We recognize that once again we’ve gone unacceptably further ahead than most of the rest of the Communion is willing to go at this time. We’ll continue to offer aid and assistance wherever it’s accepted. I’d hope that the disaffected former Episcopalians will soon set about helping the needy as a group or province (some individual congregations may have continued their charity programs, some may have been more focused on the strife of leaving).

Meanwhile, back in Mr. Hay’s San Diego, they recently held the Pride Parade, and do you know who was there? A large contingent from St Paul’s Cathedral, as documented by former Father Jake’s denizen IT, and documented by Pam’s Blend http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/12110/at-san-diego-pride-this-weekend-open-thread Autumn Sandeen.

The banners they carried – two big ones – said “Love To Each of You, from St Paul’s Cathedral.” Friends of Jake’s IT noted that a hate group was sequestered on a cross street, behind a line of mounted police:

At one point, we passed a side street that was blocked off. A row of San Diego mounted police sat on their horses, side by side facing the parade route. Behind them were the haters. You know the type we mean, with loudspeakers, and signs all about evil and “homosex” and the Bible. As we passed them, we heard them say something remarkable over their loudspeaker:

“If you think God doesn’t hate, then you don’t know God!”

Really. That was their message. The Dean and BP had a conversation about the haters’ idea of a God that hates, actually hates, people. The Dean and BP were deeply puzzled. “God is about love,” they agreed. “How do they get hate out of that message? What are they reading?” and the Dean told us that around Prop-H8 time, a group similar to that had invaded the Cathedral and interrupted the Eucharist in protest of inclusion.

Of course, as BP and I noted, this message of hate was being directed at the rear ends of about 8 unflappable police horses.

I think Mr. Hay is lucky to be in the Diocese of San Diego, although I can imagine what he went through when his own conservative parish split. It’s happened all over, but fortunately in most cases the courts generally resolve the property dispute in favor of the “continuing” or remaining Episcopalians – even in the case of the much more conservative Diocese of San Joaquin, which left en masse with their bishop, but tried to retain control of the properties. Deputations from the continuing Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy (IL), San Joaquin (CA) and Ft Worth (TX) found enthusiastic welcomes when they attended General Convention – having been kept apart from the national church by over-controlling conservative bishops, they were overwhelmed at finally being able to participate with fellow Episcopalians in all the exciting legislative and commitee processes (I’m rolling my eyes a little, but they really are darn happy to be included). San Joaquin also recently ordained their first female priest – more inclusion.

Earlier in the week, I ran across this statement from the Bishop of Wyoming, Bruce Caldwell. He presided at the funeral of a young Episcopal man of his diocese who had been tortured and left for dead, Matthew Shephard. He was asked to explain at a luncheon last week why a “elk hunting, horse riding bishop from Wyoming come[s] to be working on full inclusion for the LGBT community.” He described the funeral, and how he came to recognize the great hunger for communion, fellowship and the sacraments that gay people carried, sometimes in spite of they way they had been treated (or mistreated) by churches.

Crowds, including many gay and lesbian people, came to Shepard’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyo., and rather than distribute the Eucharist at the altar, Caldwell chose to distribute in the farthest reach of the parish hall. As the gay and lesbian people came forward with their empty hands stretched out to receive the holy sacrament, “I knew that was an absolutely holy moment, Caldwell said “I wondered why are they here, why would they have hands outstretched after the way they have been treated.”

I do indeed hope that the conservatives – those who I believe are motivated more by the need for ecclesial autonomy than by strict adherance to Scriptural literalism – find grace and satisfaction now that they have (mostly) departed. I have this feeling that we’ll both get along better without each other. Perhaps in the future there will be a grace-full rapprochement, but I suspect that most of the major players on their side would have to have an “absolutely holy moment” of their own first.

St Nick’s on the Move

Flickr

Wow! They broke ground at church while I was on vacation for the
addition!

Ginny
I can has iPhone?

Via: Flickr
Title: St Nick’s on the Move
By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 7 Jun ’09, 10.31am CDT PST

UPDATE: And it’s about frickin’ time. This morning was my first day back after vacation – we returned late last Sunday. I knew that ground had been broken but wasn’t prepared to see the big mound of dirt, two earth moving machines, and the Honey Bucket tactfully screened by the sign provided by the Diocese of Chicago. Ahem, I see there’s a rather “The Episcopal Church in Northern Illinois” tag added, too. Good for them. My only regret thus far: the big pine tree that was to the right of the entry is gone. What a shame.

The service today was a typical summer one: the 9am “traditional liturgy” holdouts (Yay! that’s me and most of the choir) and the 11am “contemporary liturgy” people (everybody else that never had music in school… ) combine in the summer for a 10am service, which means one whole extra hour at home before choir practice. Also in summer: no Wednesday choir practice.

Of note today: one of our associated priests was presiding and giving the sermon, because there was a couple of people in attendance as a search committee from a parish in another state. I hope and pray that if it’s a good fit, they call her. She wasn’t feeling well and our main priest tends to throw things in at the last second to confuse people out of enthusiasm, but she coped all right. I did like her sermon, and I hope her interview with them after church went well. Fr. Steve had decided to throw a parish barbecue at VERY little notice (it wasn’t even in the email that went out on Wednesday or Thursday) and he called for volunteers to start the coals in the grills (they cooked under the overhang in front, and all the smoke came rolling inside at the end of the service). Oh, dear. But it seemed like it was all pulling together at the last second, just like usual. I think in the end our supernumerary priest and her search committee cancelled their lunch reservation and just threw in with the parish barbecue. When I left, they were all smiling at all the hubbub and activity, so I hope that it all helped with forming a favorable impression.

It was good to see my church frenz again and I maked the musics la la la. Actually, we all had to laugh at some of the plans for the summer; apparently several Sundays, we will be singing show tunes instead of hymns. Well, we heard the first few choices and thought “Okay, that could work, and people really relate to stuff like that…” but then we got to the “Sound of Music” selections for one particular Sunday, and all was hilarity. Sure, you could imagine “The Hills are Alive” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and the nuns’ “Alleluia,” but the kicker was that the suggested number for the recessional was… waaaait for it! “So Long, Farewell.”

All pretense of musicality, oppenness to new ideas, and pro-am churchy decorum dissolved. We all broke into bits of the chorus – different bits, in different keys – and then the men hit on the same verse and did the hand motions and the “Adieu, adieu, to yieu und yieu und yieuOOOH!” and we fell about laughing. Choir dominatrix Mary lost it big time when I asked if we couldn’t convince the Liturgy Committee to let us do “The Lonely Goatherd,” since… “we could do a puppet show from behind the piano!!!” And frankly, we really could do a puppet show the way Mary’s arranged the instruments. She could even play the melody with one hand, since they’re giving her plenty to do anyway finding arrangements. Oy.

There were more suggestions for other Sundays – a lot more of highly improper songs and improvised pastiches – and aside from how funny it was, it’s a serious matter to convince somebody whose enthusiasms have run away with them that it really wouldn’t be appropriate at the Gospel reading for the choir to break into “So You’re Jesus Christ, The Great Jesus Christ?”

Some of the other suggestions are intriguing and we don’t want to completely balk at the idea; there would be something from “Big River” that would be pretty nice, but there are problems with pulling off “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” or any other songs from “Guys ‘n Dolls” in a liturgically appropriate way. For one thing, where would we get all the gamblers, streetwalkers, and mobsters to pretend to be a revivalist congregation? See? Problems.

All this happens this month and next month, so there will probably be more later after the dust settles, both from the construction site and from the impending discussion betwixt Mistress Mary and the committee member. She’s gonna be rockin’ their boat for sure.