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And Now A Word From Beth Moore

Often we hear the noble expression "color blind" to describe people without racial prejudice. We're not at all sure "color blindness" is what God is looking for. We believe He wants us to appreciate and delight in our different colors and be "color-blessed" instead!

You know, my life would be a lot easier if things were more, you know, black and white.
I would really like to just dismiss Beth Moore as another crack-pot isogetical freak but now she's gone and said this... pretty much exactly what I said just a few days ago.
It just goes to show you, we can all learn from one another. Everybody has something important to contribute. I am not saying you should invite her to your parish. You shouldn't. But, we can't just wave her off either. Like it or not... and, to be totally honest, I do not... Beth is one of us.
I am going to go back to the Beth Moore Bible Study, published by the hate-mongers at LifeWay, and see what I can learn from my enemies. This is required if we're ever going to get anywhere with the whole Kingdom of God thing... know what I mean?


On Beth Moore

I recently stated my own personal opinion as if it were an actual fact with regard to Crusillo and EFM. I can tell you that my personal opinions have not changed much since then either. But, I did realize that I spoke from a limited vantage point, and that my opinions had been formed by looking at an extreemly small piece of the pie.

And what is even more important to me than the possibility of being wrong, which I am pretty much used to by now, is the possibility that I hurt someone's feelings. So I felt badly about that and I apologized. That's about all you can do. And then I realized that I'd done it AGAIN... this time with Beth Moore.

Oy me... Have I become so self-important? Well, of course I have. If it's not one sin, it's another. And, after this, it'll be another still. Bear with me as I seem to have a real bad habit of sinning over and over again.

I really don't know enough about Beth Moore to be making such bold statements. It is only my personal opinion that she's a nut, and that's based on the slenderest of evidence. I've only been in the thing for three weeks, and one of those was hurricane evacuation week.

Here's what I DO know:

Beth Moore is an engaging, and entertaining, speaker. I'd go somewhere to listen to her. Shoot, I'd love to have a lovely port with her. She's very interesting. But, I don't think she's much on the porto.

She is NOT an Anglican and will do nothing to promote Anglican values or ethos in your congregation. And, I am sure she would agree with that and possibly be proud of it.

She is unfairly critical of the Jesus Seminar. Mocks it. And she gets laughs for it too.

Her workbook is published by LifeWay, an openly, practicing, and avowedly homophobic publishing house. And, that's not her only homophobic friend either. She's a Baptist. Need I say more? (There's that fun pun again.)

The workbook requires homework for which there are "correct" and "incorrect" answers. We took a little "True" and "False" quiz at the start of last week's lesson. I am not to happy with that. Just me.

Beth Moore treats the Bible as if it's all one book, written by the same person, to the same people. That seems real disrespectful to Holy Scripture to me.

Beth Moore cherry picks verses from all over to make a single point and I don't think that that's always what the verses she chooses mean. I brought this up once and gave an example. It was not well-received.

In the second session Beth Moore wanted us to see that God is big, really big. (Like a giant man, Dr. Barth?) So, anyway, I agree with that, God is big. Beth Moore says that every time we try to define God, that limits our understanding and creates a little idol. That's kind of right, too. More likely it creates a little heresy, probably one that's been around for awhile. But, I am not going to argue with Beth Moore over something that little. Heresy, idols... neither one is that good. But, here's the point, and most of you have already guessed where I'm going, Beth Moore's God is limited to the "God of the word." You know, The Bible. What nobody at the Beth Moore Bible Study will say is that this is in itself a defining of God, and it's limiting, and it turns the Bible into a little idol.

I've gone on perhaps a little more than I should have on Beth Moore. Obviously we have a lot of differences.

I have found the experience enlightening in other ways though. For example, I used to think that there wasn't that much difference between Anglicans and ordinary protestants. Woah... think again. Dear Anglican friends, we are a different breed.

I actually attended the Methodist church one Sunday morning, that's where we have the Beth Moore meetings. That pretty well disabused me of the notion that Methodists and Anglicans would ever again be reunited. And I used to think that. Until just a couple weeks ago, I thought that.

And I have the experience of listening to and observing Baptists and Methodists in their natural habitat, the Fellowship Hall.

I will update you after the next meeting. The meetings are on Thursdays and I haven't decided whether I am going to Beth Moore or the veep debate.

Just personally, I have a feeling Beth Moore is a great ol'e gal. But, she's not one of us. I don't think it's apporpriate to have her as part of an Anglican parish's offerings because she is so blatently anti-intellectual, she's interested in the "correct" answers, and she is a member of an unhealthy and hateful organization. She is disrespectful to Holy Scripture and she does not look to history or tradition for guidance. She seems fairly reasonable, but fairly unAnglican.

Of course, I could be wrong.

(Previously I spelled Ms. Moore's name "More." I was wrong and have corrected the error.

Not every quiet man is humble, but every humble man is quiet.

Isaac The Syrian

Is it just me? It seems like everywhere I go these days there are people chatting away. I never fail to open a door but what there isn't someone behind it wanting words to come out of my mouth.

It's not that I am particularly humble either. It's just that I crave some quiet, a place free of words and their competing vibrations. Others seem impervious to the effects of so many vibrations. Me, I get kind of sea sick from it.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the chatters in my life. I find them almost infinately amusing. Last week I got so tickled at my sister-in-law that I started laughing out loud. She's so independent that she doesn't even need another person in order to have a conversation!

And, in all their chattering, they are quick to tell me things about myself that I would never have noticed on my own. Linda doesn't need to buy anything because she's a hermit... Linda always pays retail... I'm surprised Linda eats meat because she cried when we saw that dead dear, 'member... Seeing myself through their eyes... well, I've taken it all under consideration.

People in this town often ask me if I am Ms. McMillan's daughter. Well, in one sense I am. But I also AM Ms. McMillan. Whatever. Some people think they know me because they know my mother. They do not. My mother is the nice one, the community organizer, the philanthropist, the talented one, woman of the year even... twice!

I am the quiet one.


Thanks to The Blue-Eyed Gnostic

Hear me, you that hear and listen to my words, you who know me. I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere, and I am the speech that cannot be grasped. I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name. For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashioned you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you. And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment.

-- The Thunder: Perfect Mind, NHL, p.302
From the Gnostic Book of Hours, p. 44.

Shamelessly nicked from Eileen, who has a pretty picture to go along with it over at her place.

The Thunder: Perfect Mind is one of the Sethian writings. That means it's thought to be associated with Seth. Yes, that Seth. From Adam and Eve. There're lots of other Gnostic and Gnostic-type wroitings spanning centuries and encompassing other heresies. "Gnosticism" has just become a blanket term for all of them.

A'course, you and I know that Gnosticism is a heresy. I don't recall it being condemned by any of the great eccumenical councils... speak up if you do. But I do know that Gonsticism, in all it's varieties, was condemned by that great heresy hunter Tertullian. He is practically defined by his anti-gnosticism. Before Tertulian, there was Iraenaus who, in his "Adversus Haereses" wrote about the Gonsticism in his region (France). And some people even say that the writer of The First Epistle to Timothy had Gonsticism in mind, referring to it as a "profane novelty."
But, I don't really want to write to you about Gnosticism. I want to talk about hereises for a minute. It is too easy to say, "Oh that's a heresy..." and dismiss it out of hand. Whenever something is that apparent, it deserves a second look because it's probably not right.
I don't think that the promoters of heresy, the heretics, set about to undermine the faith. I can't know that for sure but I have a feeling I'm right. I think that they were really seeking God. I do. And I think they found a little truth somewhere in there just like we all do. The thing that makes them heretics is that the truth they found was exalted above other truths and often made the only true thing. And that is a heresy.
Thank God for scholars who identified heresies and wrote about them. Tertulian and Ireaneas are only two of a pantheon of great heresy fighters. What they did is help us know who we are, who Christians are, by showing us what we are not. Gnostics... nope, not that. Marcionites... nope, not that either. Valentinians..., not that either. Just the list of Gnostic heresies might easily fill the page but the answer is still the same: Nope, not that either.
But, there is still truth in them thare heresies. It may be small compared to the whole but that doesn't make it any less true. So, instead of throwing out the Gnostic poetry along with the Gnostic heresy, let's embrace its beauty, see that it's true and may just as well feed our soul as the poetry of the Psalms.
If we are honest, and most of us are not... But, if we are, we know that we are constantly vascillating among this or that heresy. This is especially true regarding big things like the trinity, or the nature of God, anything ineffable. We want to understand and we can't do that without words, so we enter into one of the hereises for the language. But, we have to back out because it's not adequate, not the whole truth. We can see that this other thing, for which we also have words, is true too. And, suddenly we're in another heresy. So, we back out of that and into another, and into another, and into another. Maybe, if it's a real nice heresy, we even stop for awhile to enjoy it. It's OK.
It's not bad or wrong to do that. I mean, we can't go around in a transcendental state all day. So, the heresies give us a way to speak and think about God. But, if we've dismissed all the hereises then we are left without much to go on. I think I would feel just awful if I didn't have the company of Macian and Valentinius, Aruis, Apollanarius, Nestorius, and the others. They let me know that I am not alone is wanting to understand, and that I am not alone in constantly being wrong.
Heretically yours,


A Little More On Race

We can't even begin to know ourselves until we learn to distinguish between who we are and who others are. That requires us to see otherness and acknowledge it. It may begin with Brother Buber's famous I and Thou but it extends to all others and is the thing that allows us to know them and, through them, ourselves. For example:

* I know that I do not have blond hair because I have met people who do.
* I know I am a woman because I have met people who are not.
* I know that I am white because I have met people who are brown and black and yellow...

You get the idea.

Christianity itself is mainly defined in terms of what it is not. Thank God for the heresies. As soon as one pops up we have a pope or theologian or ecumenical council saying, "Nope, that's not what we are..." And it has been in knowing what we are not that we have been able to define what we are.

So, when it comes to race, don't brag to me that you are color blind.

If you can't look at someone and see that they are in some way colored, then how do you know what color you are?

When I hear someone say that they are colorblind I know I am talking to someone who doesn't even know what color they are. After all, they are color blind.

White people like to feign color blindness because we don't want to be confronted with our racism. It's so much easier to pretend that everyone is white.

Isn't it funny that you never hear black people claiming to be color blind?

I'll tell you what I think. I think that black people know that color matters, that it's defining. For a long time it defined where they could eat, or which drinking fountain they could use, where they could sit on the bus, what job they could have, where they could go to school. Oh yeah... race, color, has been defining for black people.

Should race be the thing that defines a person? No, I don't think it should be. But, as long as those of us who are white continue to use it to ensure our own privileged position in society, it will be.

White people promote racism because it benefits us. That's just the reality.
If you can't see that, then you're a racist.

Want to end racism? Open your eyes and see the black, see all the colors.

Serious about ending it? Move across the tracks. Become black. Then racism will end.


And now a word from Beth Moore:

Often we hear the noble expression "color blind" to describe people without racial prejudice. We're not at all sure "color blindness" is what God is looking for. We believe He wants us to appreciate and delight in our different colors and be "color-blessed" instead!


A Few Questions on Race

I don't usually post political stuff on this blog. Lots of other people do, Fran is one of the best and most passionate. We all love Fran. There are others. Hat tip to all who've previously posted this. I nicked it from Fran but it's other places too.

I am going to post the following questions because they are important, because we are ignorant and lazy for failing to confront the latent racism in our society, all of us are lazy and guilty... except, of course, for the very few of you who aren't. And I am posting this because I am becoming increasingly aware of the very nice people in my neighborhood who are unaware -- blissfully and righteously unaware -- of their own racism, misogyny and homophobia. Yeah, they all go together.

Here are the questions:

  • What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
  • What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
  • What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said "I do" to?
  • What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?
  • What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
  • What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
  • What if Obama were a member of the "Keating 5"?
  • What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
  • If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?
This is what racism does.

It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

We've got to stop pretending that all is well.

We are living in, and most of us benefit from, a racist, misogynist, and homophobic society. Awareness is a good first step. Of course, awareness will be difficult for white, straight, men and the women who benefit from their association with them.

I don't have a lot of answers for you. I'm an Anglican remember. My job is the questions. My responsibility extends only to myself. So, here are the questions I am going to ask myself this week:

1. How would my day have been different if my skin were a different color? If I didn't speak English? If I were not a citizen? If I had been hungry?

2. Who did I encounter today who was significantly different? Was I aware of their difference or did I try to pretend that they were like me?

3. In what ways did my race privilege me today? Am I willing to give that up?

4. How can I share privilege?

5. Am I willing to BE the other, or do I just like talking about it?

I think the examination of these questions, and our motives, is very dicey. We can't know our own hearts, they are so slippery and deceitful. Nor can we say what would have been. We just do the best we can. I hope that will be enough.


"Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart."
St. Francis of Sales

I want to thank those of you who prayed for me while I was away. And, as a report to you, let me say that your prayers were sustaining and effectual.

It is embarrassing, really, to say how pleasant the whole evacuation was. I left home early in the morning with my dog and a few belongings. It was a cool morning and I had the top down on the car. There was traffic, lots more than usual. But, at 4/5 AM... it was nothing. I arrived in Austin around 11 and had lunch with my favorite person at my favorite cafe. Then I headed out to Spicewood where more friends greeted me. There I had a lovely suite overlooking beautiful Lake Travis. I ate the best food, we had wonderful wine, my dog waded in the swimming pool and chased deer. We talked politics, shared thoughts on sustainable living, and watched the news reports of hurricane Ike. All this while others were in shelters and giving thanks for MREs. You see how well I had it!

When I got home there was electricity, water, and minimal wind damage. I spent a pleasant day or so picking up branches with my neighbors. Others had it much worse.

It might be easy for me to start believing that God had specially protected me, that because of your prayers I was somehow specially surrounded by guardian angels and protected not just from harm but inconvenience too. And we can probably all name people who would leap to just that very conclusion. We know better, though. Like the Holy Spirit the winds blow where they will and it could just as easily have been my home with a big tree in it. Or worse.

So, while I don't think my case is in any way "special," I do believe more than ever in the power of prayer and specifically the effectiveness of many short prayers. It was clear to me that my way was clear. The evacuation, so difficult for others, was a breeze for me. So, something was going on and I can only attribute it to prayer.

If you are like me, and some of you are, then your prayers may not have amounted to much. It's OK. I do it too. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of times I've bowed my head at the computer and said a short prayer for someone. Sometimes I'll remember them later at, you know, "prayer time." But, more often, it's short. That's sometimes called an ejaculatory prayer, just so you know. Sometimes I say a prayer I know, sometimes one I make up myself, sometimes not much more than a sigh. I used to think that was kind of slothful praying. But, I've changed my mind.

I think it was Francios de Sales who said, You will be sustainedby many short prayers." It sounds like somethng he would have said. I used to think that he meant that I should say many short prayers. And I am often saying The Jesus Prayer or some slight varriant. I believe in the merits of that. That's what Jonah did in the belly of the fish, you know. Many short prayers, all of them from the Psalms. Jonah knew the prayers of his people, knew them well. And, when he needed them, those prayers from the Psalms came readily to his heart and lips. And, that happens for us too.

But now I see another aspect of that. What I see is that not only do my short prayers sustain me but yours do too! Honestly, I didn't pray much during the evacuation. I just didn't. Don't know why. But, you did! Your short prayers sustained me. Francois, if indeed I have the attribution correct on that, is still right. I am sustained by many short prayers. Just not my own.

Sometimes when I am up late at night, very early morning actually, I wonder why. Surly these pittiful little prayers do more to make me feel better than they do for anyone else. Does God even hear such vague pleas? "Be strength for the oppressed, become healing to the broken. Oh God, receive tenderly the souls of the dying. Convert the hearts of the violent..." On and on with my little prayers. I hardly even know what I am doing at that hour and, since I got my new memory foam mattress, I prefer to keep my knees in the bed and off the floor. But, what if Francios was right and my short prayers joined with yours? That seems like something worth getting out of bed for.

I don't know how prayer works, or why we do it. I've told you all that before. But, if once in awhile I can see that there's some reason, that it might even be effectual... well, that might be enough to sustaiun me in continuing.

I can't find the exact quote I am looking for but let me leave you with these few lines:

  • "As those who are influenced by human and natural love have their minds and hearts constantly fixed on the objects of their affections; as they speak often in their praise, and when absent lose no opportunity of expressing by letters this affection for them and can not even pass a tree without inscribing on the bark the name of their beloved; so those,who are possessed of divine love have their minds and hearts constantly turned toward the divine object of their love; they are ever thinking of Him, they long after Him; they aspire to Him, and frequently, speak of Him; and were it possible, would engrave in the hearts of all mankind the name of their beloved Jesus." St. Francis of Sales
  • It is an old Custom with the servants of God always to have some little prayers ready and to be darting them up to heaven frequently during the day, lifting their minds to God out of the filth of this world. He who adopts this plan will get great fruit with little pains." St. Philip Neri
Peace and love to all!



Believe the Best

One of my friends in Sweeny called me a couple of times to let me know what was going on with the hurricane, etc... Another neighbor called too, and there is another friend that I was thinking of when I stepped into my favorite bakery early yesterday morning. (It's Weikel's, just north of LaGrange on the 71. Much better than the more popular Huskera's up the road.) Anyway, I bought a loaf of bread for all of us. As I made my first delivery the friend's husband opened the door. I explained my mission and handed him the loaf of bread and he said, "Huh... I never figured you'z the type." I said, "What do you mean?" And he admitted that he didn't really know. We smiled and I left. But, I knew what he'd meant. Based on never having met me for more than a minute or two, on never having had a converstion with me, based on nothing at all really, he'd assumed that I just wasn't the type to think of anyone but myself. I have lived in the city after all. I am an, a-hem, les-be-un. And everyone knows I don't go to church anymore... lost my faith, I guess. Anyway, I was wondering what it would be like if instead of trying to get a bead on one another's motives we just believed thebest about them. I mean, what would that be like?

I am going to practice believing the best about people today.


Environment is more important than will
-- Paramanhansa Yogananda

I have a desk. It's a great desk with all kinds of exotic carvings. There are peacocks and boats, pagodas and more peacocks. It's beautiful. Totally impractical, but beautiful. I read and journal there, and I keep some things in the little drawers inside. It's my favorite environment.

To be honest, I am a little overly attached to the desk. I actually love it. I keep it properly dusted and polished, and I love the polishing because that's when I get to trace all it's intricacies and "waste" time wondering what it all means, who carved it and why. It's sort of mysterious, this desk of mine. My environment. It's an outward and visible sign of things I'll never know. My environment allows for mystery. It's a place where it's OK not to know, just to be.

The desk is made of some unknown dark wood. My bookcase is also of some unknown dark wood, old and of some historical note I've been told. So, last week when I went off shopping for another bookcase I thought I'd get something dark. I watch HGTV, after all, and I know how to do design. You know, from Tee Vee.

Before my shopping really got under way I stopped at a friend's furniture store in a near by town. The furniture they stock is way out of my price range, really beautiful stuff. I wasn't even there to shop. In retrospect I can't remember why I was there. But, I digress... So, I was taking with my friend and she said, "Well, I've got a bookcase..." and she walked me back to this gorgeous honey colored bookcase. It was solid and wide. Except for the color, it was just what I was looking for.

My friend claimed the bookcase had some water damage. It had been marked down and didn't sell, they didn't need it, long story short, I could have it. I thought I'd probably have to put a stain on it so that it would fit in with the other furniture. But, no big deal. Small price to pay, just a little elbow grease, for a great bookcase.

As if my life is not rich and blessed enough, eh? Now I'm getting free bookcases.

You might reasonably think that the new honey colored bookcase wouldn't fit in with my old dark furniture. And it doesn't. But, I am not going to change the new bookcase. Want to know why? It's because the new bookcase changed my dark furniture. In the desk, and the other bookcase, there were hues of gold and red that I'd never seen before. Even my wood floor has red streaks! I kid you not, I was so stunned at the transformation that I sat down and just stared at the other furniture. The loved desk seemed unknown and more mysterious. And the old lawyers bookcase -- I am not exaggerating -- had streaks of fire in it.


Environment is more important than will. That's probably one of the reasons Sri Yogananda started spiritual communities for his devotees. It's why Jesus kept the disciples together, it's the rationale behind cloistered life. It's why sports teams travel together, and armies go off by themselves before battle. Environment.

What is near us changes us, brings out the true colors and makes us better (or at least different) than we are by ourselves. But, it's not the sameness that brings out our hidden beauty. It's the different one, the other, the single odd piece.

I am in an odd place, surrounded by odd people. Discouraging as I find that, I have hope that maybe some streaks of fire, a hidden hue, might emerge. You never know.

"...just as the natural environment depends on biodiversity, so the human environment depends on cultural diversity, because no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.”

-- Sir Jonathan Sachs
(nicked from Elizabeth Kaeton)