Friday, September 24, 2010

October 3, 2010. Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What is the collect writer telling you about yourself?

  1. You don’t deserve what God gives you.
  2. You’d better humble yourself.
  3. You don’t pray often enough.
  4. You need mercy more than anything else.
  5. Your conscience tells you that you are afraid. If it doesn’t, your conscience is broken. In either case, be afraid!
  6. You are not worthy to ask God for anything. Use the Jesus card if you expect to get through.
  7. Name all three of them and you might get through.

What is the collect writer telling you about God?:

  1. God is Almighty.
  2. God lasts forever.
  3. God is readier to listen than you are.
  4. God wants to give you more than you want or deserve.
  5. God is divided into three persons.

Now read the collect again, perhaps with a joss stick burning and Gregorian chant on a cd turned down low.

Lex orandi, lex credenda. “What we pray is what we believe.”

My biggest problem with this collect is that if does not sound like the prayer of someone who spends lots of time in prayer daily. It sounds more like the prayer of someone who drops into conversation with God at best only once a week. It sounds stilted and formal even when I strip it of the formulaic introduction (“Almighty and everlasting God”) and the formulaic conclusion (“Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen”) leaving:

A stripped version

God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus

I prefer a still leaner version which cuts out the parts the writer of the collect meant more for us than for God:

My preferred version

God, pour upon us the abundance of your mercy. Forgive us. Give us good things. Amen

This version sounds like prayers many of us pray often.

Do you think the official collect has a better chance of getting through to God?

Lamentations 1:1-6

In Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road (and in the movie version) the apocalypse has already happened. A father and son from Appalachia, move along the road among isolated survivors making their way to the coast. They forage for food among the ruins and fight off rivals, including some who have become cannibals.

The devastation portrayed in Lamentation occurred in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar laid waste to Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and took King Zedekiah prisoner. Most attribute the book to the prophet Jeremiah. The book is comprised of five separate poems. Today’s passage from the first chapter compares the Jerusalem to a woman once thriving and beautiful, now a widow living amidst desolation.

Why has her fate turned bad? “Because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions.”

The second chapter more forcefully connects the city’s bad fate to bad actions of the leaders. Hebrew Scriptures are full of this claim: evil happens because people do bad things. People prosper when they do the right thing.

By contrast, Cormac McCarthy is refreshing: he doesn’t make the bleak landscape into an object lesson. He doesn’t blame the victims.

Some biblical prophets, like fire-and-brimstone preachers, make a cottage industry out of guilt. It’s hard for me to get worked up about sins twenty-six centuries ago.

The optional reading from the third chapter (verses 19-26) suggests an antidote: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

No where does the text analyze the catastrophe dispassionately. What made Nebuchadnezzar more successful, and how can his tactics be adapted and made better?

Ernest recently bought me a t-shirt which says: “Don’t act stupid. We have world leaders for that.”

At the end of World War II Japan lay in nuclear waste. One of their first public acts was to set aside a percent of Japan’s GNP towards scientific education. The USA had out-witted them, and they did not want that to happen again. Though stretched in every way for basic survival, they set aside funds to assure they would not be caught scientifically ignorant again.

Psalm 37:1-10

When Jeremiah looked at the prosperity of Nebuchadnezzar, he did not fault Nebuchadnezzar but faulted the Israelites. According to Jeremiah, the Israelites brought the destruction on themselves. Jeremiah would have his readers believe in a gospel of prosperity: when you do the right thing, God will reward you with good things. (He never looks closely at Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior, only at the behavior of the Israelites.)

By contrast, Psalm 37 urges us to take no notice of the prosperity of our adversaries. It won’t last. We need to spend our time waiting patiently on the Lord. “Take delight in the LORD, and he shall give you your heart's desire.”

Yet, like Jeremiah, the psalmist expects prosperity as the reward for our faithfulness to God, if not immediately, in the future: “Those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land.”

My husband is quick to counsel me when he sees me concerned about the goings on of adversaries: “Haven’t you got more important things to worry about?! I can’t believe you are sitting around here worried about that!”

2 Timothy 1:1-14

In this epistle, Saint writes as mentor to the young man Timothy. He tells Timothy not to be ashamed to be a Christian, and he amplifies this counsel by noting that he is not ashamed either.

What letter would you write to a young Christian in your life now in college for the first time? “Don’t be ashamed to be known as a Christian”? Has your young friend seen you take gladly take on hostile consequences in witness to your faith?

I sometimes wonder whether I would have taken some of the risks that I have taken for my faith if I had fathered children. At times I have risked losing my job or cut myself off from more coveted assignments by speaking unwelcome truth. Would I have used the needs of my children as a reason to speak less forcefully?

I hope not.

My own father was willing to be unpopular for his faith. I rejoice that I was able to tell him during his long final illness: “Dad, I am so grateful that you stood up for what you believed. You could not have anticipated the particulars of my own faith journey as an out gay Christian, but when I have spoken up, I have known for certain that the world would not fall apart merely because most disagreed with me. You showed me that time and again.”

Dad had fewer of the world’s goods to leave me than most of his friends were able to leave their children, but he gave me a legacy far more valuable than mere things.

Luke 17:5-10

Some of the cultural baggage in this passage does not easily translate into the 21st century. Few today would speak about slavery as uncritically as Jesus does here. He offers no critique of the system, and talks within the system of slavery without question.

Jesus’ points out that it is not necessary to reward someone for doing well what it is one’s job to do well. Nor should we expect God to reward us as Christians for what it is the job of Christians to do.

Faith is part of what it is to be a Christian, and we should have faith as a given, not as something to increase God’s favor towards us.

It is clear that Jesus does not give his disciples a process by which to have more faith. Instead, he needles them: they don’t have the faith even a grain of mustard seed or they would already be moving mountains.

I like it when Jesus does not conform to sentimental notions of him as always gentle and patient. Here he is impatient, as all good friends are at times

Many of the kids in my block of Keith Avenue in Anniston, Alabama, received cash as a reward for good grades. I never did. I earned good grades often. When I complained, my parents responded: “Why should we reward you for good grades? You should work hard and expect good grades of yourself without any enticement. Being a good student is what you are, not something you should depend on us to make happen.”

“Increase our faith”? That something Christians should expect of ourselves. Jesus wants us as friends, not as co-dependents.

See also

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 26, 2010. Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

After 31 chapters, at last we have a small break in the jeremiad to which the author for all times has given his name. He is still in prison for speaking truth to Hezekiah; nevertheless, he comes into some property of his own, for seventeen shekels of silver. So momentous is the occasion, that Jeremiah makes a big to-do out of processing the deed in front of the guards, witnesses, and Judean observers.

“Take these deeds…and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.”

For Jeremiah, his purchase indicates that God will again bring good things to Israel. To own property outside his captivity is his witness that captivity will not last forever.

In July I sold that last patrimonial land that I still owned in Alabama, my home state, given to me by my father before he died -- family property, much like Jeremiah’s family field at Anathoth purchased from his cousin Hanamel.

My father came into the property when he was just out of college in 1926. His father, W. Louie Crew, set him up as a Chevrolet dealer, but the dealership went under in the wake of the Stock Market crash of 1929. A customer named Duckworth was no longer able to make his payments on a car. Distraught, Mr. Duckworth deeded to my father a few acres in a neighborhood of the very poor.

For almost 50 years my father sold bit by bit, each for more than Mr. Duckworth’s Chevrolet had cost him. In the 1980’s Ernest and I continued to pay taxes on the remnants that no one had wanted to buy, we sold a couple of scrawny plots for several thousand each. In July this year, for four times what Mr. Duckworth’s car cost, we sold the last small plots.

This Instrument Prepared by xxxxx x. xxxxx, Attorney at Law, LLC….. KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS that in consideration of One Hundred and No/100 Dollars ($100.00) and other good and valuable consideration to the undersigned grantor in hand paid by the grantee herein, the receipt whereof is acknowledged, I, Erman Louie Crew, Jr., a single man, herein referred to as Grantor, do grant, bargain, sell and convey unto…xxxx xxxxx and xxxxx xxxxx, wife, herein referred to as Grantees, as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the following described real estate situated in Coosa County, Alabama, to-wit: All of my right, title and interest in the NW ¼ of Section 15, T 24N, R 20E, Coosa County…..

I am struck by the archaic syntax we still use for affairs long considered momentous. It is as if the Judeans are still sitting in the court of Jeremiah’s guard with witnesses who signed his deed of purchase.

I called the lawyer noting that he had sent me a check for $2,000 yet indicated only $100 in the instrument. “That is standard,” the lawyer explained. The state has no right to know how much property costs. The extra amount is covered in the wording ‘and other good and valuable consideration.’ You have broken no laws by signing it. Instead, you have preserved your privacy.”

“Also,” I continued, “the instrument describes me as ‘a single man’ and yet, when you asked, I told you that I am in a legal domestic partnership with Mr. Ernest Clay.”

“Legal in New Jersey, yes,” the lawyer said, “but not in Alabama.”

Ernest deposited his $1,000 into his bank; I deposited my $1,000 into my bank.

I hope the purchaser buys an earthenware jar in order that the new deed will last for a long time. I wish he could put with the deed our two canceled checks. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: fields shall be bought and sold in this land by new kinds of families.

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

Is Psalm 91 sentimental clap trap or God’s bonafide commitment to deliver us from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence, from the plague that stalks in the darkness and the sickness that lays waste at mid-day?

Ask the millions who died in the Holocaust?

Ask those stalked in the darkness by the plague AIDS?

Ask the victims of tsunami, earthquakes, and tornadoes?

Were they destroyed because they did not abide under the shadow of the Almighty?

Had the children of Haiti done something to bring the earthquakes? Had they voluntarily separated themselves from God’s protection?

1 Timothy 6:6-19 and Luke 16:19-31

The epistle and the gospel today are of a piece, and should make uncomfortable all but the poor.

In Luke 16 Jesus warns against measuring our worth by the material comforts we have laid up. Jesus does not subscribe to the theology of “The one with the most toys wins.”

Saint does not subscribe to that theology either. He counsels Timothy, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. "

In speaking about the rich, Saint gave Timothy and ‘out,’ albeit an awkward one. He did not say “Money is the root of all kinds of evil” but rather “the love of money.” Once one gets the knack of it, a rich person can easily mask the love of money as something else:

In 1965 one of my students at a fine prep school came to me in tears at graduation complaining that his father, a high-ranking officer in a major aircraft company, had given him only a 2-engine jet as a graduation gift. “Mr. Crew, with a 4-engine jet I could fly much more expeditiously to serve the poor!” he said between tears. I am glad that I had the integrity to laugh at his claim. But I would be embarrassed for starving Christians to read my diabetic log of the scrumptious fare I so avidly devour daily.

“No one needs to make more than $25,000 a year,” Eleanor Roosevelt once said, in defense of taxing severely those who made more than that. Was her personal annual allowance about $25,000 a year?

Jesus is harder on the rich than Saint is. In his parable of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus, Jesus indicates that the rich man has advantages only while on earth: he then goes to Hades from which he is able to observe the beggar Lazarus now living a life of luxury in heaven. Furthermore, once in Hades, the rich man finds it too late to convert.

Will the pastors on Fifth Avenue pay any more attention to Saint and Jesus today than do the pastors of the homeless?

I am reluctant to romanticize the poor. There is nothing ennobling about starvation or homelessness.

The Doukhobors, a small Russian sect, reject the secular government, Russian Orthodoxy, icons and the like, and like the Amish, eschew most things modern. By the end of the 19th century, most of them had fled Russia and settled in Canada. Once a year the more extreme Doukhobors gather to dance naked around a huge bonfire on which they have heaped all of the prize modern baubles they can discover purchased by backsliders in their community. “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these,” they echo Saint in his counsel to Timothy.

Artist Walter Sorge once painted a series of oil paintings showing the Doukhobors dancing naked, the painting growing more and more abstract, fat and ugly shapes dancing in fervid self-righteousness.

See also

September 19, 2010. Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

The reading is not easy to follow. The quotation marks, absent from the original manuscripts, have been added to help. Presumably Jeremiah is speaking the bulk of the passage. After two verses, he quotes the cry of the people for one verse, and then adds a parenthetical quotation, in which God is presumably speaking, fussing at the people for provoking him to anger with their images and their foreign idols.

Jeremiah himself laments on behalf of “my poor people.” He asks why their health has not been restored, and fantasizes that he wants his tear duct mechanism to be changed into a spring of water, not to experience joy, but to have more water with which to lament. That’s kinky, over the top!

Small wonder that Jeremiah is often called the “Weeping Prophet.” The problem with that reputation is that fewer and fewer take notice of tears after a while. Perpetual complainers sound like spiritual hypochondriacs

Psalm 79:1-9

Psalm 79 also encourages spiritual hypochondria. Citing no sins that are particularly egregious, the psalmist still blames all current ill fortune on God’s wrath as punishment. The psalmist does not consider the possibility that bad things sometimes happen to people quite unrelated to their actions, good or bad.

The psalmist also assumes that God is always unavailable to us when bad things happen to us. That’s a dangerous assumption and can cut people off from awareness of God’s presence as comforter through hard times,.

Job, in one of the oldest books in the bible, stood firm in asserting that the many unpleasant things that befell him were not consequences of something he had done wrong. Not a model of patience at all, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, Job repeated through much of the drama, “Show me my guilt.” We who are in on the first chapter of the play (and it was written not as history, but as drama) know that he is right. His behavior had nothing to do with the problems that befell him. Instead, God bet Satan that Job would still worship even if God took away his comfortable life. Satan expected Job to curse God. He does not, but Job does call God to account.

Psalm 79 moves a long way from Job’s point of view.

There is something arrogant and absurd when we assume that even our misdeeds are important enough to have consequences that explain bad weather and other misfortunes.

Such superstitions can cut us off from taking rational responsibility. Rational responsibility leads us to search methodically not only for the real causes of problems, but also for their remedies.

Superstition invites us to wallow in guilt, known as “the gift that keeps on giving.”

Perhaps we can salvage psalm by revising parts of it, such as:

Help us, O God to stop putting ourselves at the center of the universe, presuming that our least behaviors affect the wind and the rain. Thank you for already forgiving us: help us to forgive ourselves. Thank you for our minds; we rejoice to use them to solve problems rather than blame you or ourselves for everything that happens to us. Amen

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Surely all Christians can understand the need of prayer -- supplicant, intercessory, thanksgiving… But Saint’s advice to Timothy seems to have as subtext: ‘Don’t get sidetracked by the high and mighty. Pray for them. Don’t distract from your religious message by getting involved in politics.’

Christians have often followed such a doctrine of quietism. ‘Be quiet about the affairs of this world; attend to the affairs of the next.’

That’s a far cry from what Jesus intended when he asked us to pray, “Your realm come on earth as it already is in heaven.”

When I taught in the Foreign Language Institute in Beijing in 1983-84, I regularly attended the Chong Wen Men Church, a large ecumenical body of most Christians in the capitol. Fundamentalists and evangelicals far outnumber other Christian groups in China, and thus they set the tone of the worship and preached most of the sermons.

Students at the Institute often wanted to check out the controversial group but risked reprisals from the atheistic government and from political leaders at the Institute if they attended on their own. However, they were immune to reprisals if they attended to help a foreigner, and thus many volunteered to interpret for me.

Often I needed to hear only 4-5 sentences of a sermon before I could have written the gist of the whole thing. For example, one Salvation Army preacher began by reading the text “thou are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.’ “This is not talking about St. Peter in Rome,” the preacher shouted, and indeed for the next 55 minutes preached about how evil Roman Catholics are to take the Holy Book and misread it to lead millions away from true Christianity.” You too can see where the sermon was going, and it did so relentlessly, while 300-400 Christians in Beijing paid close attention.’

The Romans worshipped in their own church over a mile away, but it was so infiltrated by communist members that it did not publicly threaten the government any more than the folks at Chong Wen Men
Church. For added certainty, a next-door neighbor clanged away with a hammer during the service on most Sundays. The Mass went lickity split (16 minutes max?) and you knew where the priest was in the service by the sanctus bells. (See Ecumenism in China which first appeared in The Witness 67.8 (1984): 15-17, co-authored by Li Wenxin and Louie Crew.)

Worship at both places was marked as much by what you did not hear as by what you heard. At neither venue would you hear any reference to the material needs of anyone. The state reserved all those concerns for itself.

Without a material commitment to those around us, faith easily becomes ethereal in ways that present few challenges and little danger to anyone else.

The communist leaders in Beijing found nothing threatening when Christians behaved as Paul told Timothy to behave.

Aside from a few important exceptions, the Nazis in Germany were rarely threatened by a contrary witness of Lutherans or Catholics. Most kept mum and apolitical, focused, they thought, on ‘spiritual things.’

Luke 16:1-13

Luke promotes Christian opportunism to a new low watermark. In Luke’s story, Jesus commends a manager who steals from his master. The manager gives the stolen property to his master’s debtors and he reduces the record of what they owe to the master -- all of these favors so that the debtors will welcome the manager into their homes when the master fires him.

Jesus then tells us: “Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

Will any preacher in America say amen to Jesus for this advice?!

It would be interesting to know what percentage of the clergy will avoid Luke’s text altogether.

See also

September 12, 2010. Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2010 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Suppose a child said, “Mommy, give me doll that will always please me, will never make my life difficult, and will always make me look good.” We might smile at the child’s innocence, but we would also want to explain to the child that life is not that simple, nor would we want it to be.

That’s even more true about adult human beings than about dolls; we cannot reasonably expect them always to please their creator or anyone else. If God alone made us please God, then we would have no free will; instead, we would God’s puppets, and our decisions would not be our decisions.

The collect proposes that only God can make us please God. The collect talks behind the Holy Spirit’s back directly to God, but presupposes that the Holy Spirit is pulling our strings.

We have little evidence that God wants us to be servile and totally dependent. “I have not made you servants or slaves,” Jesus says in John’s gospel, “but friends.”

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28

In June I listened to Rupert Degas read Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2006.

Jeremiah and Cormac McCarthy are soul mates, as it were. In The Road a father and his young son walk the road trying to fend for themselves after most of civilization has been destroyed.. The few survivors whom they encounter threaten to steal from them, possibly even to cannibalize them. The boy innocently wants to help most of those whom they meet. The father protects him, and they spend much time hiding from or running away from other people. Jeremiah echoes their experience:

I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and lo, …
all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins

Still the boy and his son trudge on, staying near the ocean, with no specific goal to reverse the desolation. Yet, as in Jeremiah’s vision, there is no “full end.” Ubiquitous desolation, but no full end.

At the end of The Road the father dies but the boy trudges on, and we the readers cannot be altogether sure that the couple who adopt him are as well intentioned as they proclaim themselves to be.

By contrast, in the post-apocalypse vision of American poet Robinson Jeffers the landscape survives even the people who have laid waste to it: “the same heart-breaking beauty will still be here when there is no longer any heart left to break for it.”

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

My own post-apocryphal meditation:

Poem Found on Cinder No. 3--2000 A.D.

The tree, the sky, and the water were ours,
we presumed, for us to use as we pleased,
as if we had a Visacard or Mastercharge account
in God's name with no payment to make in our generation.
This is a recording is a recording is a recording
is a recordingisa recordingisarec.…

--Louie Crew

Chronology of publication:

  • Negative Capability 3.1 (1982): 58
  • Northland Quarterly 2:3 (1990): 36. Used my penname Li Min Hua
  • Pennine Ink Magazine 29 (2008): 7
  • Poetically Speaking as part of 'Guest Poet' series for a month from May 8, 2002

Note that planet earth is the third cinder out from our sun

Psalm 14

Psalm 14 proclaims desolation too.

Every one has proved faithless;
all alike have turned bad; *
there is none who does good; no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers *
who eat up my people like bread
and do not call upon the LORD?

See how they tremble with fear…

Whereas the best hope Jeremiah holds out is God’s statement, “I will not make a full end”, Psalm 19 beseeches for deliverance and creates an expectation that it deliverance will be accomplished:

Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! *
when the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Often my adversaries tell me, “There you go telling personal stories again. You need to make your case with scripture. Recently one mocked a post of mine saying, “But we modern and post-modern Xns are SOoo interested in ourselves and SOoo uninterested in Christ and we eagerly tend to talk about ourselves — not the Savior, the Lord, the Image, Reconciler, the Creator.”

Note that much of scripture is personal when it talks about God. Witness Saint’s comments to his disciple Timothy. Saint points out that Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but sinners. Saint recalls that he was once violent in persecuting Christians. Indeed, Luke records in the Book of Acts that Saul (later Paul) was present as persecutor when Stephen, the first Martyr, was stoned to death. “Of sinners I am chief,” Saint tells Timothy.

Saint uses his personal conversion as a show-case of what Jesus wants to do for all other sinners.

It the churches were to become truly safe for sinners, we would pack them at most services. Too often they are the refuge of the self-righteous who pass mean judgments on all who are different from themselves.

Luke 15:1-10

Jesus proclaims his preference for sinners when the self-righteous religious leaders complain about the low-life company Jesus keeps. Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep, to rescue which a shepherd will leave the 99 who are safe and venture into the dangerous and hard places. He tells the story of a person who spends more time trying to find a lost coin than in keeping count of the coins not lost.

Ask a friend to tell you a story about how she……, and usually she will comply. Ask a friend to tell you a parable about …. and your friend may well demur, possibly not feeling competent to compete with Jesus.

We minimize some of the lessons we can learn from Jesus about evangelism by calling his personalized stories “Parables” -- a fancy word that belies how simple most of them are.

At General Convention in Anaheim in 2009, deputies and bishops devoted many hours to practicing ‘public narrative’ the art of telling our faith stories in ways that make them accessible .

The Episcopal Church is a secret too well kept. People are dying for lack of the nourishment that daily is our portion. Far too often we behave as if everyone who ought to be an Episcopalian already is.


See also