Saturday, April 20, 2013
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Can an author have more betrayed her readers?
Friday, April 20, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose
Rarely has the book blurb been so far off the track as it is for this book. It makes it sound like an interesting fun book when in reality is a book that makes no sense. I am surprised that Simojn and Schuster would stoop so low.
For one thing, it is not formated properly for the Kindle. Rules of grammar are ignored. Paragraphing is all over the place. I would not recommend anyone spend any money for the knindle edition of this book as the publisher has made it quite clear it can't invest its time, money and effort to make the Kindle edition readable.
The second maion problem with this book is that it has a least 6 different story lines of which only 2 are resolved. The writing is sloppy, the editing worse. The main idea is that the hero and heroine, brother and sister, are trying to recreate a lost but famous fragrance.
In reality, who cares? The reader won't care because the author doesn't care. I feel like this is a first draft that has been published when in reality it needs extensive editing and rewriting to be worth money. I am glad i got it for free on netgalley.com
Saturday, October 01, 2011
How relevant is the Book of Common Prayer
I mention all this for the benefit of those who may have never heard of the BCP as we like to call it. On this list where I lurk, someone mentioned a new collection of prayers that are now available for use and raised the question of how kosher is their use since they are not part of the BCP. We Episcopalians are know to be big on right order and appropriateness. The original question then raised questions about the relevancy of the BCP to the 21st Century, how are we gonna keep them down in the pews now that any number of other things happen on Sunday mornings. And has the BCP lost its entertainment value.
Perhaps it is because I've spent 29 years as Benedictine, albeit as a solitary, but what I value about the BCP is the ability to sink into the words. We Benedictine read the same portion of the Rule on the same day every year except for a bit of slight of hand in Leap Years. When we pray the Daily Office, we pray the same psalms on the same days , often at the same time of day. Day in and day out. Year in and year out.
Some gentle readers maybe thinking "oh yuck, could it get more boring than this?" IMO, if that is the reaction, it is because the reactor is looking for the wrong thing. The point of the RB is the same as the point of the BCP. Both are meant to form Christians as Christians to serve and love the Most High God, to learn to love unconditionally every other person in the world and to find Christ in every man, woman and child.
There are rhythms and currents within the RB and the BCP that get inside a person and work on one much in the same way, I think , as the sacraments do. Sure the sacraments pin us to a moment, the moment when we participated in the sacrament but the BCP And the RB take us to a place outside of the space-time continuum to where the Holy Spirit can have Her way with us and us probably unknowing of it until we are changed, subtly and inexorably.
I know this because I think I first began to experience this current BCP through the Green Book in I believe autumn of 1974. Which is also when I finally began to attend a TEC parish regularly for the 1st time. So let's round up and subtract 1975 from 2011 and that gives us 36 years of exposure to the '79 BCP. I am a much better person today then I was. I will spare you the details. I still have significant problems. But almost 4 decades of praying the same words day in and out, year in out, decade in and out have contributed to making me stronger, healthier, nicer, all that good stuff. Most important, I begin to get a glimpse of what iot really means to be a Christian.
Seems to me that TEC may be loosing sight of that. Seems to me TEC may be falling into the trap of thinking that liturgy should have entertainment value. If we switch to that way of thinking, then we lose the formative aspect of the BCP and the liturgies it communicates.
Yes I know it may feel more than a bit like how are we gonna keep down on the farm now that they've seen Paree. I know around here in San Diego, many of our churches are losing members to mega churches with exciting power point presentations, strobe lights and rock music. And yes, I know that God can use anything and God does use everything, but where is the challenge to grow and develop into the full stature of Christ in these mega churches with their checklists of what it is to be a Christian and if a person can't check everything off they are not saved.
I don't think we can pick and choose what parts of Scripture we are going to follow and I don't think we can pick and choose parts of the BCP. The entirety of both is for our very best good to help us present ourselves as an offering to God.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thinking about America's economic woes
What I would like to do except it is beyond my means, is to put together bags of basics such as cans of pop top chicken or tuna, juice, fruit, cookies, plastic flatware, napkins. Maybe also some travel sized toiletries. I live well below the poverty line for a single person myself, so I just can't do it. But I throw the idea out there for you, Gentle Reader. Maybe you are in a better place than to extend this small bit of comfort.
It's not enough, though, now is it? What is our Christian duty to God and our neighbor? It seems to me that each of us must undertake work, probably painful, to examine our relationship to wealth, money, possessions. And by "we", I mean all who call themselves Christians. We must allow the Holy Spirit in. Otherwise I fear we are all the rich young man whom Jesus loved but had to watch him walk away because the man loved his stuff more. I think this will hurt if we allow the Holy Spirit to have Her way with us.
But here's a simple way to start: how much do you spend at Starbucks in a year? I can't claim to know the prices there, but let's say a person spends $5 a day 5 days a week for a weekly expenditure of $25 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and it is a staggering $1300.00 a year. What is that same person buys lunch those same 5 days a week and it costs $10 a day. That adds up to another $2600.00 And what if that same person gets a mid-afternoon Starbucks every day, which would be another $1300.00. That's $5200.00 a year.
It's not my place to say whether or not this person should or should not do this. But isn't it a worthwhile question? Especially if that person also claims s/he cannot afford to tithe. My point is that we Americans can be very non-thinking when it comes to what we think we deserve. My point is that we embrace our luxuries at the expense of other Americans who lack the means to thrive. How can a Christian really justify it? Only through denial and a refusal to face up to one's own individual responsibility.
We also have to shake off all political rhetoric and oratory and just look at the facts. I am no economist but I am an observer. What I have observed is that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is no longer extended to every American citizen. I suggest part of why that is so is because we have changed the definition of happiness so that is more dependent on externals than it is on the person within. As if what we can buy is going to make and keep us happy.
I would welcome a list of facts and figures such as comparing where we are today to where we were 25 years ago. Has the incidence of homelessness increased? Has the dependency upon food stamps increased? How long is the wait to get rental assistance? What are the employment figures?
Frankly, I don't know enough to know all the questions one should ask. But there is a reason America is in an economic crisis and the reasons are bigger than whether or not the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans were extended. I suspect that if we were to simply compare facts and figures, allowing for population growth or decline, we would find that it started about 30 years ago when I new approach to our country's economics was implement. I suspect that we will find that it is very very horribly true that the rich are getting wealthier and not only are the poor getting poorer but the number of poor increased and will continue to increase.
We Christians must look anew at all the Bible says about wealth and money and the poor. We must allow the Holy Spirit to soften our hard hearts, to make all of us, rich and poor less greedy. What we need is conversion of life, Conservatio Morum, to conform ourselves to the Bible. Rather than trying to make the Bible conform to us.
Were we to do that we just might find ourselves moved to compel our politicians to so change things so that every single American has a roof over their heads, food in the home, means to prepare it, decent affordable medical care, clothing proper to the climate, heat, water, whatever is necessary to thrive.
And maybe that starts with giving up those $5 coffees and $10 lunches.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
More thoughts on Work
When last I wrote about this subject, I wrote about the joys of iconography and how finally the work that has my name on it has manifested itself. I would like to share with my Sisters and Brothers the extraordinary events of this past weekend.
This past Friday and Saturday was the Episcopal Diocese of Sand Diego's convention. For those who don't know, I am Episcopalian. Fr. Mike, my rector, decided that we would take the icons and cards he made of the icons to convention and that I was to staff the booth. Any icon I write belongs to All Souls', my parish. They invested in my training and in return, they sell the icons and the proceeds is wire transferred to our missionaries in Kenya where the money is quite literally used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, provide for those unable to provide for themselves. As I have for years been quite passionate about social justice I have been so very delighted that the icons are being used to alleviate the violence of poverty.
Here in San Diego we have a store called O'Connors Church Supplies ( http://www.oconnorscatholicsupply.com/ ). Bob O'Connor came by our table at the convention. He discussed the icons with me and then asked about how we market them. I replied that we didn't quite know what we were doing about that and we meant to have some discussions. He then mentioned to me that in addition to the store they have a 600 page catalog and a website and that they could assist with the marketing as he would like to sell our product in his store, catalog and online. He would like original icons, cards and reproductions. I kept my wits about me long enough to ask for a business card and to tell him any such discussions would have to be with Fr. Mike.
There was then a lull in the shopping as people went back into their sessions and I raced out the door to find members of my parish to babble at them about what had just happened. One of them was Fr Mike who was obviously staggered.
I was then immediately consumed with performance anxiety. How would I ever supply enough icons? I think many of my icons are hideous so how could any one want to sell them? All sorts of "i, I, I, I" thoughts dominated my thinking. By the time I arrived home Fri even I was a mess of I this, I that, I, I, I. Naturally, I emailed friends and posted on facebook and as the email conversations started and I was overwhelmed with performance anxiety, a realization dawned on me.
If this potential business arrangement is any sort of an accomplishment, it is one that was accomplished by my parish and not by me. It is a result of our particular Body of Christ being the Body of Christ, everyone doing their bit. It is because we together have been conduits of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I write the icons but in reality all I am is the paint brush, it is the Holy Spirit who is the artist. My performance anxiety is not new news to my parish. They've been helping me through it for months and thanks to them that the Holy Spirit reveals Herself in the icons. If the deal goes through with O'Connors and money rolls in to be dispersed to our missionaries, it is not because I did it but because we as a parish, we together responded to our dear Lord.
What has me wondering, and here I finally get to the subject of work, is this. Here in the USA the question "what do you do?" is a big one. The emphasis is on "my job" of "my work."Here in the USA we speak of "my job" as if we are autonomous, solely self-reliant, as if we act as independent units. I have been guilty of thinking of iconography as "my job." But what this conversation with Bob O'Connor has forced me to realize is that iconography is not "my job." If there is anything of God or of His beauty in the icons, it is because the Holy Spirit put it there and She did it as a result of the combined efforts of all of us at All Souls'.
So... isn't this true of all work we are called to do? All of us are able to do the work to which God has called us only because others in the Body of Christ are being the person God has called them to be