Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Some days, a person needs a "reminder of the value of mindfulness."

I had one of those days at work that started out slow but put me square in the face of "Mr. Disappointment" by the end of the day. We were having an unseasonably good day, weather-wise--51 degrees in Kirksville at the end of December is definitely a rarity--and work was seeming to be slow enough to allow myself the luxury of taking a walk with a friend at Thousand Hills state park at 3:30. I was looking out the window, smiling at the sunshine, thinking, "I'm going to get out and enjoy this." It was a light day, case-wise, and the only thing I had to stick around for was waiting on one case that would need a frozen section, scheduled for 2:30.

For the un-initiated, a "frozen section" is a quick way to determine either a preliminary diagnosis on an unknown lesion, or margins of something being excised in the OR. I won't go into the technical details but the basic premise is on a "need to know" basis so the surgeons know what next to do for the patient. It is not as good a quality look as the things we put in for permanent sections, but the basic idea is that the information the pathologist gives helps guide the surgeon's hand at a time the surgeon wants to do as definitive a procedure as possible while the patient is still on the table.

Well, that's when Mr. Disappointment showed up.

The 2:30 case was delayed until almost 4:00 because the patient was delayed in Radiology. Radiology was backed up, and things just did not happen by the schedule. By the time I got my specimen, it was already getting dark. I did not get the last bit of the case until 5:00, did not get out of the office till 5:30.

Don't get me wrong; that's the breaks of my line of work. The patient's needs must supercede my wants. But it still didn't mean I wasn't disappointed. I always feel bad about this scenario. I am fine with accepting my responsibilities, but I always feel bad about putting my friends on a "leash". I am grateful this friend has no issues with my job-related problems in this regard. But that still doesn't stop me from feeling bad about it...and I really WANTED to go play in the sunshine!

So, I am driving home, feeling edgy about having to feed my equines in the dark. I do not like "throwing hay" in the dark in the winter. The calmest animals will spook and do goofy things in the dark. There have been plenty of stories in my life of farmers and ranchers who accidently got a kick in the head in the dark, when they could not see it coming. So I am always very careful feeding in the dark. I was grouchy that I had missed my walk. I was grouchy that I had to put my friend off, even if we were good with it.

I got home and fed the equines with no incident. Then, when I was walking back to the house from the barn, I looked up at the sky. I wish I could have taken a picture of this but I will try to describe it. At the horizon it was deep purple and the sky above was getting black. Right at the horizon there were two planets (maybe Mars and Jupiter.) Up higher, the moon was just a sliver, running from like 2 o’clock to 7 o’clock. At about 10 o’clock was Venus, shining brightly. I had to stop and look at it for a while. It was this peaceful mix of purple, black, and white. I realized, had I not had to come home late, had I not had to stay for that case, I would not have gotten to see that.

In that moment, I realized I am thankful.

I am thankful that I have important work that helps people even if they are asleep on the OR table and don’t even know I am helping them and my duties sometimes mean putting them ahead of me.

I am thankful I have understanding friends, who help me bear my own disappointment with myself and my slowness in gaining wisdom sometimes.

I am thankful for the mindfulness that allowed me to see a magic moment, meant just for me, that became a healing moment.

Thanks be to God for gentle reminders of holiness that creep out from the fringes of our disappointment.


Ok, I am starting in on another book. This one is "Finding the Monk Within; Great Monastic Values for Today," by Edward C. Sellner.

I will put one caveat on this book: If you are looking for "Feel good Christianity," keep on walkin'. This is a heavy book that should have a "Children do not attempt this at home," label on it. But if you are looking for a book that will challenge you, make you go "I'm nothing like this guy/oh, my God, I am just like this guy in THIS way, how do I use this in MY faith?" it is an excellent read.

Really, this is a collection of "short biographies of famous monks" with an analysis of their life and values. Why read a book about monks from the 4th to the 12th centuries when we live in the 21st? Well, what you will find is that although cultures change, human nature stays the same, and the hopes, dreams, and torments of these individuals are not all that different from our own. Sellner promotes the idea of the "new monastic individual," the idea that modern Christians, now more than ever, need to realize that spiritual values such as reflective prayer and contemplation, often "go against the grain" of modern society.

But the first of the chapters that stopped me dead in my tracks to pour over, read and study was the one on St. Augustine.

I can’t believe I never hooked up with this guy’s life, or bothered to “get” what he was all about....up until this chapter, I always was like “Yeah, ok. Augustine. He used to be a horn-dog and then he got converted and it was all Love love love. Ok, fine.”

Reading about Augustine’s life and personality really hooked me and “my fire” in a way I did not expect. So much so, it kind of wracked my chest. I think it was because I could understand “what he was looking for” and how it must have tormented him so.

This guy had a HUGE desire to grab, taste, eat and be a part of so many things in life. I think he was driven by wanting to “be one with everything,” to feel himself melt away into the things that drove his passion. So much of his monastic life was struggling with disciplining this passion. Oh, wow, that is something I can definitely identify with.

Now, granted, he was quite a bit more heavily into debauchery than me, but he had that one lover for like 13 years as a young man, and he appears to be incredibly faithful to her and the only problem was the culture of the day did not really allow him to recognize that this woman was truly his friend and soulmate. The thought at the time was that only men could be the truest of friends.

He identifies the relationship as “lustful” but when you look at his writings, there is real fidelity in how he felt about her, yet he never married her, and I think some of that could have been very similar to my own desire not to be “owned”. I get the feeling he felt that marrying this woman would have dampened all his other passions for reading and astronomy and philosophy. I get the feeling part of his 13 year attraction to this woman was that he was very drawn to the idea that neither of them “owned” each other and so this drove their desire for each other. You know, like if he had married her, it would dampen the passion of it all. Who knows, maybe she was married to someone else, technically. We don’t know that much about her. But his heart was broken when they finally split up.

When Augustine decided to live as a monastic, he was still having a lot of issues with his um, "carnal urges." He did get a bit extreme, thinking the way for him to have these urges abate was to roll naked in a briar patch. OW!

But I could feel Augustine’s pain. I know what it is like to feel the true wonderment of “will I ever be able to give of myself in a way that I feel complete union with those closest to me, and how do I accomplish this when I am always beating down the flames of my various passions?” (and I don’t just mean erotic passions here—I mean any/ALL of them!) Being a "fire" person myself, I can understand that level of acute pain to some degree.

Although this is not always evident at the surface on me, there are all kinds of things that hook a deep, passionate part of my fire, and maybe that all rolled together is part of why I work so hard and struggle so deeply at times to understand and feel complete union with God. I have compartmentalized things so badly, “complete union” in anything remains mostly elusive--at best, I get glimpses.

Augustine really really tried to develop true friendships. I certainly understand that! But he seemed to have taken it to a level that is still mostly hidden for me. Again, I get glimpses. He had several very close friends in Carthage, which he described as “intimate friends” In Volume IV of his Confessions, he writes about what having a good friend is all about...

“... to talk and laugh and do kindnesses to each other; to read pleasant books together; to make jokes together and then talk seriously together; ... to be sometimes teaching and sometimes learning .... These and other similar expressions of feeling, which proceed from the hearts of those who love and are loved in return, and are revealed in the face, the voice, the eyes, and in a thousand charming ways, were like a kindling fire to melt our souls together and out of many to make us one.” (Augustine used fire images to describe his friendships a lot. I can identify with that, too!)

I was thinking about that this Sunday in Prayers of the People. “Father we pray for your holy catholic church; that we all may be one.” This Sunday was the FIRST time I ever really heard the words “that we all may be one,” and actually moved beyond this disgusting la-la image of the old Coca-Cola commercial where everyone is singing “We are the world." I never thought of that line until Sunday in any way except in that roll-your-eyes "Let's all sit in a circle and sing Kum by Ya" way.

He connected these moments to our relationship with God. He thought true and real friendship was “... the welding together of two souls who seek the same goal; ...two hearts united by the holy spirit who is God.” He saw true friendship as a bridge between the earthly and the divine. It is interesting that the Latin word for friend is amicus; the root is amor. It really speaks that there is a component of real love in friendship.

The one bugaboo with Augustine is he never quite knew what to do with his eros. He tended to think of it in very polarized terms, essentially as a demon. The hell of it is, his eros is probably what made him able to have his intimate friendships...it’s just, in my mind, eros with a different outlet. It is like the old saying, “Be careful you cast out your demons lest you cast out the best part of you.” Hell, I struggle with that! I struggle with my own fire--that business of knowing you can either heat the house with it, or get stupid and burn the house down with you in it. So I guess Augustine’s struggle there hooks me, too.

Sellner (the author) throws in some Jungian stuff about fire:

“For, according to Jung, fire is a symbol of transformation and of eros, that powerful yearning within humankind for wholeness, freedom, wisdom. This "fire" is a spiritual force, a passion or enthusiasm for what and whom we love deeply that ultimately leads us beyond ourselves as well as to the deeper Self that lies within. While Augustine intellectually could and did acknowledge the spiritual side of that "flame," it is precisely the bodily aspect of eros which caused him so much anguish, personally and theologically. Personally, he struggled with a passionate nature that had difficultly in accepting limitations of any kind -- whether sexual longings or limits on work. “

(Hmmmm...."difficulty in accepting limitations of any kind..." I plead the 5th!)

Something else Sellner said about Augustine hooked me....he writes, “it is intriguing to note that whenever Augustine in his Confessions uses the imagery of fire, the image of the heart is in close proximity. That is where Augustine finally locates friendship, for, according to him, friendship is simply sharing the counsels of the heart.”

Well, now you see why I had to read the chapter on Augustine four times over the weekend before I could write a word! I struggle with my own fire--daily. Sometimes hourly. I never quite know "what to do with my fire." I never quite know how to be "more efficient" with the stuff my fire generates. Reading Augustine's centuries old writings and viewpoints make me realize some of the concepts are as old as antiquity...this is not a "new" problem among fiery people.

Learning to love like this guy did is definitely a challenge, and backing down from challenges is not my strong suit...

Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon/evening over at my friends B. & J. for Christmas dinner, where the high entertainment was commandeering grandchild A.'s new Wii. She was torn between "wanting to play with it with the grownups" vs. "You grownups are playing it too much with each other." It's not an unusual Christmas dilemma for a ten year old. I suddenly heard the voices of my parents and grandparents coming out of my mouth saying, "Now, A., we are all going to have to go to work on Monday and YOU are still going to be off school and can play with it to your heart's content all you want...so CHILL!"

I had to laugh. My mind backtracked to many Christmases in my own childhood where one of the unintended "childhood lessons" was "learning about sharing b/c all the adults are playing with YOUR toys!" That lesson was not always well transmitted in my family. Sometimes it precipitated arguments. It's a strange dynamic. It is that childhood "powerless" problem. I got to thinking about A.'s dilemma. I remember that dilemma. You want the adults to play WITH you and part of the bargain is you have to let them also play with each other. This is hard b/c it's YOUR stuff, and it's your NEW stuff that you want to get acquainted with yourself.

So at a moment neither of us were playing with the Wii, and watching two of the other adults playing, I sat over with A. and said, "Hey, you know what? Look at the great present you are giving everyone. One of these days, you are going to be grown up yourself, and you are going to be off work for Christmas with either YOUR kids, or someone else's kids, or grandkids, and it will be the ONE day you can feel like a kid and play like a kid. When you're not playing, I want you to watch me and your mom and your aunt H. and your uncle A. and your grandparents. If you watch REALLY closely, you will see what they were like when THEY were kids! You only know us as cranky old grownups. A magic part of this day is only KIDS and their toys can bring this out in grownups. What a wonderful gift you have given all of us!"

What is it, about Christmas day, that brings out the mass ability in adults to play with toys that is unlike any other day? It's the one day of the year where we seem to have the license to "let go of being an adult." It seems to usually happen after dinner, when all the "adult" jobs of preparing the meal or shoveling the walks for company or helping in preparation of things is over. The meal is finished, the plates are stacked up, and everyone is full and resting. Part of the rest often becomes playing with the kids and their toys, even commandeering them a little to the kids' dismay!

Is it an innate desire to "do this over till we get it right?"

Yeah, sometimes it is misguided. Sometimes it actually creates tension between adults and kids on this day. But I have a feeling it is rooted in this need for adults to have a tiny window of time that they can really "be" a kid again. The toys have changed, but we adults are continually as "inept" with the new generation of toys, whatever the toys may be. I was laughing at how in some of the Wii games, little A. was MUCH more skilled than we were. I was a junior high kid when Pong, the patriarch of all video games, was in its infancy. But I was skilled where my family's adults were inept. This pattern just keeps on going! But there must be something we are yearning to "get right," and I have to think about what that "something" is.

P.S. Thanks be to God A.'s grandparents got the "Classic Rock" version of "Guitar Hero" on the Wii as well as the "regular" version. The ONLY reason I did not TOTALLY suck at "Guitar Hero" first time out was I was playing it to Alice Cooper's "School's Out" and the tune was much more burned in my brain than little A.'s. She said, "How can you be even that good when you've never played this game?" I just looked at her and said, "Honey, my problem with this game is the hand eye coordination, but this song is burned into my soul! You weren't even a twinkle in your grandparent's eye when this song came out!"


Well, this morning I awoke to a sunrise that had the impressive quality of coloring the sky at all four compass points! This is as "Currier and Ives" as it gets at my house!

Almost every "liturgical color" was in it somehow (except for green)...gold, red, rose, blue, purple, black...and the white of the snow. As I was standing out there looking at it, one of my flashbacks from the Lutheran hymnal popped into my head. (True confession--as much as I enjoy being a 'Piskie, I do confess that my favorite "classic hymns" are Lutheran.) But the first verse of this one flew into my brain as I was enjoying the "4 way" color...

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks;
when beauty gilds the eastern hills
and life to joy awakes.

Not, as of old, a little child,
to bear and fight and die,
but crowned with glory like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and earth's dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that e'er shall last;

And let the endless bliss begin,
by weary saints foretold,
when right shall triumph over wrong,
and truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings.

Then something else came to mind. Maybe part of what connects me to sunrises/sunsets ARE the "liturgical colors". Maybe part of what connects me to "liturgical colors" is that they are also the colors of my heart...seasons of somber purple and dark blue, seasons of verdant green, reds and yellows, flashing moments of pure gold and white, and just the teeniest tiniest bits of rose. (Anyone who knows me well knows "There ain't much rose there," but a tiny hint of it will sneak out now and then!)

So, my wish for my blogfriends on this Christmas day is "Enjoy the colors of my pasture; enjoy the colors of my heart."

Merry Christmas!

Ok...as much as I dislike secular Christmas hoo-ha, I will confess to one pop culture Christmas thing I like..."How the Grinch Stole Christmas." (How can I NOT like a Christmas tale narrated by Boris Karloff????)

So it got me to thinking...what do the Whos of Whoville sing at Advent?

Why, they sing, "Fah who for-aze Emmanuel!" (with HUGE secular apologies to "O Come, O Come Emmanuel...)

Fah who for-aze, Emmanuel,
And dah who dor-aze Israel,
So long as we have hands to clasp,
The blessed day is in our grasp.


Refrain:
Fah who! For-aze!
Emmanuel
and dah who dor-aze Israel.


Oh come Who Pudding, Whoooo Roast Beast,
And be with us in this time of feast,
No need for ribbons or for tags,
The spirit comes without boxes or bags.

(Refrain)

The season's spirit and its light,
Comes to us in the dark of night,
Through it the season's blessings pour,
And makes our heart three sizes more.

(Refrain)

And now for the final installment!

O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”


O Emmanuel, to the tune of “Dust in the Wind” (with apologies to Kansas)

Emmanuel
King of kings and Lord of lords, ruler of all
Lawgiver
Desire of all the nations and of all the world

Holy child
Born in darkness, Child of the Light

Emmanuel
Saivior of all people come and set us free
Isaiah said
God will come upon you and give you a sign

Holy child
Born in darkness, Child of the Light

Emmanuel
Born of virgin, Son of God, Emmanuel
Salvation
Came to all of us from that birth long ago

Holy child
Born in darkness, Child of the Light

Holy child
Born in darkness, Child of the Light

O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .


O Rex Gentium, to the tune of “I can’t help Falling in Love with You” (with apologies to Elvis)

King of all, joy of human hearts
But I can’t help loving the Son of God
Arch of Man
Save us from the dust
Oh, I can’t help loving the Son of God

A child is born to us
Wonder-Counselor
Father and Prince of Peace
He shall beat swords into plowshares
So I can’t help loving the Son of God

A child is born to us
Wonder-Counselor
Father and Prince of Peace
He shall beat swords into plowshares
So I can’t help loving the Son of God
So I can’t help loving the Son of God

Next in our series...O Oriens....

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (Isaiah 9:1).


O Oriens, to the tune of “Wouldn’t it be Nice” (with apologies to the Beach Boys)

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to feel the radiance
Feel the splendor of eternal light
And wouldn’t it be nice to feel the sunshine
And the justice from up there on high

You know its gonna make it that much better
When we can be with God and hang together
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
From the darkness and from all the fear
And after having spent the day together
Spend eternity with God so close and near

The Happy times together we’ve been spending
Our fear of death will now begin its ending
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray about Isaiah’s words
The people in the darkness will have seen a great light
To exit the darkness
And then we’d be happy

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But lets talk about it
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice



Ok, true confessions time. It all started when I was a little kid, and lived in the pre-A/C era. All the churches used to have their windows open on Sundays. Zion Lutheran Church was just a small piece down the road from the Bethel AME Church. While we were droning on one Sunday, I could hear the folks at the Bethel AME Church singing the same song we had just sung...what a moment of serendipity. I suddenly realized, "I'd rather sing it like THAT."

On long, hot summer Wednesday nights, I used to ride my bike over to the Bethel AME Church and listen to them singing on Wed. night services. I would sit outside and imitate them, despite the fact I was rather melanocyte-challenged for that style of music. It was either that, or peek in the windows of the Pentecostals on Wed. night and watch them speak in tongues and roll around. The AME Church usually won.

As a result, I have always been a junkie for traditional black gospel music. I can even do it a little, and it's kind of fun when you take stuff in our hymnal and um...African-Americanize it a little. (I got some of my church friends really chuckling when I sang "This is the Feast" in black gospel style once.)

But anyway, I found this version of "Glory to the Newborn King" to be worth posting to get my fix. Enjoy!

P.S. I'm especially fond of the purple choir robes...

Here's today's selection...

O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (Isaiah 22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

O Clavis David to “The sounds of Silence” (with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel)

O key of David, royal power
O royal power of Israel.
Come break down the prison walls of death,
For those in darkness and the shadow of death,
And lead your captive people into fre-ee-dom,
O key of David, royal power.

Isaiah once had prophesied,
That Adonai would place the key
Upon the shoulders of our God most high
And what he opens no human can close
What he closes, no one can open
O key of David, royal power.

The great I AM’s do-min-i-on
Is vast and endless as the sea
Forever peaceful and forever just
Filled with mercy and with glaad-ness,
David’s throne, God’s kingdom is forever sustained,
O key of David, royal power.

Here is the third in my new and improved set of O Antiphons:

O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Isaiah 11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

O Radix Jesse, to the tune of Sixteen Candles (with apologies to The Crests)

Flower of Jesse, flower of Jesse’s stem
Oh, I love you so

Jesse’s flower, raised up in the light
A sign for the people in the dark of night
(in the dark of night) (Oh)
Kings stand silent, nations bow in praise
Come Lord, let nothing keep me from your aid
(keep me from your aid)

From the stump of Jesse
A green shoot will sprout (a green shoot will sprout)
From his roo-oots, a bud of light, will blossom out
(will blossom out) (OH!)

All shall seek him, seek his dwelling out
From the line of David, born in Bethlehem (born in Bethlehem)

From the stump of Jesse
A green shoot will sprout (a green shoot will sprout)
From his roo-oots, a bud of light, will blossom out
(will blossom out) (OH!)

All shall seek him, seek his dwelling out
From the line of David, born in Bethlehem (born in Bethlehem)

Now for the next O Antiphon, which I should have posted the 18th....

O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (Isaiah 11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

O Adonai to the tune of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (with apologies to the Beatles)

Oh yeah, Lord
Sacred Lord (doo doo doo doo doo)
Of ancient Israel
You had shown
Yourself to Moses (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Inside the burning bush
O Adonai, O Adonai
O Adonai our God.

Oh yeah, Lord
You gave the law (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Up there on Mt. Sinai
Stretch your hand
Your holy hand (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
And set your captives free
O Adonai, O Adonai
O Adonai our God.

Isaiah said the poor would get justice and truth
Afflicted poor would get his mercy
And his love
And his love
And his love!

Oh yeah, Lord
Strike the ruthless (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
With the rod of your mouth
And then, slay,
Slay the wicked (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Oh, with your lips of truth
O Adonai, O Adonai
O Adonai our God.

Oh yeah, Lord
Justice and faith (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Will be our holy garb
Our king, judge and lawgi-iver (doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Will be our salvation!
O Adonai, O Adonai
O Adonai our God.

OOOOOO k. I meant to start posting these on the 17th. But I'm behind, ok? I decided this year, to pay more attention to the O Antiphons during Advent. I have been familiar with them for a long time, but some chanted/sung versions of them seem a little "dirge-y" to me.

For the un-initiated, The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) during the special period of Advent preparation frin December 17-23. The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known, but we know they have been referenced from other texts as far back as 500 a.d. They outline the different roles for Christ as prophecied in the book of Isaiah.

So I got to thinking...what would happen if I wanted to make these a little less "Early Church" and bring them to the baby boomer crowd? So I am re-working each of the O Antiphons to 50's, 60's and 70's music. Here's the first one. I've put the "real" O Antiphon first, followed by my new um...creation. Anyway, this was the one for Dec. 17:

O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

O Sapientia to the tune of “Only You” (with apologies to the Platters)

Oh, oh Wisdom
O holy word of God
You-oo go-o-vern
All of creation
Only you, and you alone
With your strong and tender care
Can show your peo-ple to God’s great sal-va-tion

Oh, oh, Isaiah
Isaiah prophesied
That the spirit of God will rest on you
Of wisdom, understanding
Of counsel and of strength
Of knowledge and fear, fear of the Lord

Oh, oh, Adonai
Our fear is your delight
For it’s true that God is our true light
When you hold my hand I understand
Your power and your might
You’re my Lord my God, my sacred Adonai.

My friends J.&J. (are you getting the idea I have a lot of friends/relatives whose names start with J? It's true! It's true!) own property in the Bahamas and live down there about 8 months of the year anymore. She-J is also a member at Trinity. She attends an Anglican church in Freeport when she's down in the Bahamas and is good buddies with Canon B. in Freeport.

She sent me a hilarious bit from her church bulletin that was not really meant to be hilarious, but I will say...only in the Bahamas would this have to be listed on the church bulletin...here 'tis...

A Table of Kindred and Affinity

Wherein whosoever are related are forbidden by the Church of England to marry together.

A man may not marry his:

Mother
Daughter
Father's mother
Mother's mother
Son's daughter
Daughter's daughter
Sister
Father's daughter
Mother's daughter
Wife's mother
Wife's daughter
Father's wife
Son's wife
Father's Father's wife
Mother's Father's wife
Wife's Father's mother
Wife's Mother's mother
Wife's Son's daughter
Daughter
Son's Son's wife
Daughter's Son's wife
Father's sister
Mother's sister
Brother's daughter
Sister's daughter

A woman may not marry her:

Father
Son
Father's father
Mother's father
Son's son
Daughter's son
Brother
Father's son
Mother's son
Husband's father
Husband's son
Mother's husband
Daughter's husband
Father's Mother's husband
Mother's Mother's husband
Husband's Father's father
Husband's Mother's father
Husband's Mother's husband
Husband's Son's son
Husband's Daughter's son
Son's Daughter's husband
Daughter's Daughter's husband
Father's brother
Mother's brother
Brother's son
Sister's son

______________

But you know, what really stuck out for me was I sure did not see the word "cousin" on there anywhere, heh heh...


Yes, it's late Sunday night, and I am indulging in my secret lust for silent movies on TCM. "The Godless Girl" was Cecil B. DeMille's farewell to the silent era. Here's the TCM blurb on it (Actors' names my additions):

"Judith Craig (Lina Basquette), the daughter of an atheist, forms a club called The Godless Society in her high school and begins to recruit members. Bob Hathaway (George Duryea), a stalwart Christian lad, incites the students to attack the atheists, and there is a riot. Grace is killed as a direct consequence of this disturbance, and Bob and Judith are sent to the state reformatory. Bob and Judith are badly treated by the head guard (Noah Beery), and Bob, attacking the grocery man, escapes with Judith in his wagon. They are quickly recaptured and locked in cells. A fire breaks out, and Bob rescues both Judith and the head guard. As a result of this selfless bravery, Bob and Judith are returned to freedom, facing life with a renewed faith in Divine Providence."

All's well that ends well, right? Christianity trumps atheism, even back in 1929. But what made this premiere on TCM worth the watch for me was the new musical score by Carl Davis. I am sitting there watching the movie and noticing one song, of which many variations are being played. All of a sudden, I am thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, that song's in the hymnal! We sing it on Holy Week!"

Of course, I am blanking on the song at first so I grab the laptop and go to the Oremus Hymnal. Obviously, no one is here to hear me except the dogs, as I gleefully exclaim, "I've got it!" It was "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded." Well, really it's Herzlich thut mich verlangen, but who's gonna argue such a fine point?

Well, I was quite a sight, sitting there after midnight, every time they played it, singing,

O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!


Hey, you know you've arrived when you recognize songs outside of church as being from the 1982 Hymnal! The Kirkepiscatoid School of Film can be such fun sometimes...

I spent a little of my contemplative time thinking about the Nativity--not "Christmas Stamp Nativity" but the real deal. I tried to put myself in the minds of both Mary and Joseph, and a lot of very raw and real things came to mind.

Luke gives us a much more detailed look at Mary’s side of the tale than Matthew does of Joseph's, so honestly, a lot of my musings are more speculation than anything. In typical “Kirksville gossip” fashion, you know there were old biddies in town who were counting the months from when it was obvious Mary was showing and when the wedding date was...although back then, I don’t think they made as big a deal of that back then b/c “engaged was as good as married” even though it was not “official”. It is interesting that the Torah does NOT prohibit consensual premarital sex; you just can’t marry off your daughters as “pure” if they’re not.

Where the big deal was involved was PRICE. Obviously, “pure” was not worth as much as “used.” What would be fun to know is whether there was any consideration by Joseph to request a partial refund from the in-laws on the price! If he didn’t, I’m sure the old biddies had fun with that. “Joseph—what a dweeb! You know she was pregnant before the wedding and Joseph swears he didn’t know her. He could have had her for a LOT less bride price. For that matter, most people would have just had her stoned and gotten on with finding another one.” But then again, maybe Joseph just kept mum, and people figured it was his.

But the fact remains, Joseph stuck with her and must have believed that what the angel told him in the dream was true, or else he was so hot for her he didn’t care if it wasn’t. But he must not have been THAT hot for her or else he wouldn't have toyed with the idea of "dismissing her quietly."

I know Luke says Mary popped up with the Magnificat after she heard the news, but I have a feeling they left out her most initial thoughts about the whole thing, and the Magnificat came later (if it wasn't just Luke's invention.)

Also, when Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, I would imagine he was pretty put out about it. I wonder if he had already been to the in-laws...or maybe the in-laws went to him, b/c Mary was running around telling about how she was pregnant with the a child brought by the Holy Spirit to her relatives, and they figured they could get stoned for getting a price for “pure goods” rather than “used goods.” (If everyone had stuck to their guns about the law, there would have been a big "stone-a-rama" for the entertainment of the Nazareth townies, better than the Romans bringing the circus to town.)

It had to be a weird time between the two households, and be incredibly stressful for EVERYONE involved. Oddly enough, I identify more with the stress than the joy, leading up to this birth. I mean, here’s a girl. She's young. She's being told she's pregnant by the Holy Spirit and she's saying, "DUH! If you knew anything, Mr. Angel Gabriel, you'd know I'm a virgin. Helloooo!"

Here's a guy. He agreed to marry a virgin. She wants to have kids by HIM, he wants to have kids by HER. So what happens right off? She’s pregnant and he’s not the father. In the beginning before the dream, he had to have doubted her. This is NOT a good way to start a marriage. They both had to have their own ideas of what the early days of their um, “wedded bliss” was going to be like, and this was NOT it!

Then on top of that, they have to travel to Bethlehem when Mary is "pregnant out to HERE," as we say in these parts. They have to be thinking, “Oh, man, I hope I/she don’t/doesn’t go into labor on this trip.” It’s Mary’s first pregnancy. Everyone stresses about their first pregnancy. First pregnancies take longer in labor; their cervix dilates to 3 cm and just stays there for what seems like forever. Not to mention they might have gotten lucky in Bethlehem and only pay tax on a family of 2 if she hadn’t popped yet, but if she delivers the census taker is definitely going to say “family of three!” More taxes for Rome! That would have to bite, too.

I always figure her water broke somewhere before they got to Bethlehem, being bounced around on a donkey, ha ha. Then the stress really starts. Are they going to have to deliver by the side of the road, get mugged, get their donkey stolen? They make it to town, but they can’t find a place to stay. The contractions are starting to shorten. They get to stay in a cow shed. Again, this can’t be good. Joseph feels like a failure b/c he couldn’t do any better for her. Mary can’t be pleased. But they know beggars can’t be choosers. Did anyone help them deliver this baby? Or did Joseph and Mary pretty much have to guts-ball it on their own? Fathers to be, at times, can be either incredibly insensitive, or incredibly wussy when the screaming and the blood starts. This had to be incredibly, incredibly stressful...and lonely...and even afterwards, very scary.

In other words, I think once the pains became five minutes apart, all the shiny la la Holy Spirit stuff went right out the window! I mean, you know, Mary was probably like 14. Fourteen year old girls in labor do NOT labor um, “like women”. They labor like “scared little girls” because in so many ways, they still ARE little girls. (I still vividly remember this one little gal; she was about 14 or 15, who got so scared she yanked her feet out of the stirrups, rolled over in bed, got on all fours like a dog and screamed, “OHGODOHGODOHGODOHJESUS! TAKE IT OUT! TAKE IT OUT!”--and I am thinking, “It doesn’t say in Williams’ Obstetrics what to do when THIS happens”--and thinking, “Honey, if you had only said that nine months ago, we would both not be in here in this mess!” and the nurse looking at me like this is somehow all MY fault.) I don’t care how mature they are. Really, it’s not fair to Mary, to make her into Wonder Woman. She’s human.

Well, and you know, maybe that is why I identify with the humanity of the Nativity—the stress, the uncertainty, the fear—more than I do the whole iconic Nativity scene. In fact, I probably NEED to identify with it; otherwise, the Nativity is not “real” to me. It becomes plastic lighted Holy Family on the church lawn stuff. I need to think about the fact there was tension in the air, blood on the ground, and a placenta afterwards. Otherwise, Jesus himself is not real. How can he be “fully human” if he was not born into the tension of what was really happening—a young teenaged girl giving birth in less than ideal circumstances to a couple who is unsure about it all; not just unsure about the birth itself but what this birth is going to mean in their lives. The only part they are sure about is that this is something God's told them to do. This is as real as it gets—and humanity deserves no less.



This is still one of my favorite Advent songs after all these years, and as Robert points out on his blog, it's one of the few versions on the web that doesn't sound like a dirge. (Of course when I sing it, it sounds like a foghorn on a point lighthouse, but that is another story...) Enjoy!

Tip of the had to MadPriest...

It all started when the American Humanist Association paid for advertising on 230 buses in Washington DC to say, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

Well, then that's when all the phone calls and nasty e-mails and "advertising competitors" showed up. A bunch of folks claiming to "stick up for God" showed up on the talk show circuit, the Internet, and the TV, some of them not really, in my opinion, "Being good." So THAT's a little confusing. The humanists want to be good without needing God to lean on them. Some "Christians" become snippy and nasty in the name of "defending God."

Here's a radical notion. I suggest that anyone who wants to go out there and "be good for goodness' sake" to have at it! I encourage it. There is not enough good in the world, and people out there wanting to do good are a blessing to this world.

Frankly, I don't want to ascribe to the notion, "Be good or God will kick your ass." That's simply not a very good reason for doing good. People who are being good for that reason make no sense to me. As a theist, I would much rather believe that, when I do good, it is because "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and I realize the good I do has an intrinsic value beyond my religious views--that most of it IS "goodness for goodness' sake."

In fact, maybe the opposite happens if you are a person who is seeking and questioning the existence of God. You go out and do some goodness for goodness' sake. You realize it is NOT easy. You realize it is, in some ways, a part of human nature that runs counter to a fair bit of human nature, like the need to care for oneself, the need to protect oneself. Doing good makes you vulnerable.

In the center of that vulnerability might come the notion, "Hey, the nature of this good seems a little beyond "just me" and my skill set. Maybe there is something deeper to this good." Now, maybe you'll ascribe this eventually to what you see as your representation of God. Maybe you'll see Jesus in it--real Jesus, not three-syllable "Jay-EEZ-UZ". Maybe you see Buddha in it. For all I know, maybe you think it's the result of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But the minute a person connects to that notion that the whole of "good" is beyond one person's abilities, you have, in effect, joined the ranks of theists.

Then again, maybe you never get there. But you are out doing good in a hurting world, and in that act, you are part of my covenant with my God, and that's ok by me!

So, to borrow a common thing angels say this time of year in the Advent stories, I say "Fear not!" to these ads!

Hmmm, as long as we're looking at "Biblical definitions of marriage", "Biblical abominations" and whatnot, I suppose we also ought to look at what all the bible thinks is worthy of the death penalty. Of course the fundies will start talking about the "New covenant" and the "old covenant", but ok, then if the "New covenant" is in effect, murder ought to be okay now, by their reasoning, right? Thanks to John Marks Ministries for this list...

Disobedience to Parents

Exo 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Deut 21:18-21 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Murder

Exo 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. Exo 21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

Adultery

Lev 19:20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. Lev 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Kidnapping

Exo 21:16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

Beastiality

Lev 20:15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.

Lev 20:16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Abominations

Lev 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

Blasphemy

Lev 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.

Incest

Lev 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Lev 20:12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.

Lev 20:14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

Witchcraft

Ex. 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

Lev 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Num 3:10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

False Prophecy

Deu 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Rebellion

Josh 1:18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

2 Chr 15:13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

Lying with a woman having her menstruation

Leviticus 20:18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

Violations of the Sabbath Violations

Exo 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

This includes: Cooking food on sabbath (Exo 16:25), seek out food in any way on the Sabbath (Exo 16:26), leave home on the Sabbath Exo(16:29), making a fire on the Sabbath (Exo 35:3).

The punishment for breaking these laws was stoning to death, as ordered by GOD in Numbers 15:32-36 and Exodus 31:14 and Exodus 35:2.

Numbers 15:32-36 "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses."

Lost viriginity

Deuteronomy 22:21-24 "But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of the city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; so you shall purge this evil from Israel."

Worshiping other gods

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

Deuteronomy 17:2 -5 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

I am so worn out in the backlash of California's Prop 8 boondoggle that the two words that the so-called Religious Right seem to utter most gleefully are the words "abomination" and "sodomy." I think they just like hollering "sodomy" because it's titillating, but when they use "abomination" they like to say it in a way that has the full backing of "God the big celestial ass-kicker" behind it.

So I spent a little time on the intertubes today seeing if anyone had conveniently already provided me a "list of Biblical abominations", and bless Linda Malcor for doing the work for me already! Here's her list...

The List of Abominations

These pasages are taken from the Revised Standard Version (RSV) simply because that is the text favored by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and by the individual who prompted me to do this textual, rather than contextual, study. See below for a concordance for other translations.

Abominations to Other Peoples

Genesis 43:32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

Genesis 46:34 you shall say, 'Your servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,' in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians."

Proverbs 13:19 A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul; but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.

Proverbs 29:27 - (2) An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but he whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Dietary Abominations

Leviticus 7:18 If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him; it shall be an abomination, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.

Leviticus 11:10-19 - (6) "But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is an abomination to you. They shall remain an abomination to you; of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall have in abomination. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you."

"And these you shall have in abomination among the birds, they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, the kite, the falcon according to its kind, every raven according to its kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk according to its kind, the owl, the cormorant, the ibis, the water hen, the pelican, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron according to its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat."

Leviticus 11:20 "All winged insects that go upon all fours are an abomination to you."

Leviticus 11:23 "But all other winged insects which have four feet are an abomination to you."

Leviticus 11:41 "Every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is an abomination; it shall not be eaten."

Leviticus 11:42 "Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, all the swarming things that swarm upon the earth, you shall not eat; for they are an abomination."

Leviticus 19:7 "If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination."

Isaiah 66:17 "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, says the LORD."

Improper Worship/Sacrifice

Deuteronomy 7:25 The graven images of their gods you shall burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it; for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 17:1 "You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever; for that is an abomination to the LORD your God."

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 "When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD; and because of these abominable practices the LORD your God is driving them out before you."

Deuteronomy 27:15 "'Cursed be the man who makes a graven or molten image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.'"

1 Kings 11:5 For Solomon went after Ash'toreth the goddess of the Sido'nians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (Foreign god who demanded human sacrifice.)

1 Kings 11:7 - (2) Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. (Foreign gods who demanded human sacrifice.)

2 Kings 23:13 - (3) And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ash'toreth the abomination of the Sido'nians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (Foreign gods who demanded human sacrifice.)

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

Proverbs 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.

Isaiah 1:13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies--I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

Isaiah 44:19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire, I also baked bread on its coals, I roasted flesh and have eaten; and shall I make the residue of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"

Jeremiah 32:35 They built the high places of Ba'al in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Daniel 11:31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the continual burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Divorce/Adultery

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance."

Ezekiel 22:11 One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you defiles his sister, his father's daughter.

Leviticus 7:21 And if any one touches an unclean thing, whether the uncleanness of man or an unclean beast or any unclean abomination, and then eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD's peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people."

Love of Money

Jeremiah 6:15 "Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown," says the LORD. (Greed for unjust gain.)

Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the LORD. (Greed for unjust gain.)

Luke 16:15: But he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Dishonest Trade

Deuteronomy 25:13-16 "You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and just weight you shall have, a full and just measure you shall have; that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God."

Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.

Proverbs 20:10 Diverse weights and diverse measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 20:23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.

Other Improper Behaviors

Deuteronomy 22:5 "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God."

Deuteronomy 23:18 "You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God."

Judges 20:6 "And I took my concubine and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed abomination and wantonness in Israel." (Referring to the rape and murder of the concubine of a Levite who was a guest.)

Proverbs 3:32 for the perverse man is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 11:20 Men of perverse mind are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight.

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Proverbs 16:5 Every one who is arrogant is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Isaiah 41:24 Behold, you are nothing, and your work is naught; an abomination is he who chooses you. (Worshipers of people who set themselves up as gods.)

Malachi 2:11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.

Unspecified Wickedness

Proverbs 8:7 for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

Proverbs 15:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, the words of the pure are pleasing to him.

Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.

Proverbs 24:9 The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to men.

Jeremiah 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.

Ezekiel 18:10-13 "If he begets a son who is a robber, a shedder of blood, who does none of these duties, but eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor's wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes increase; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself."

Revelation 21:27: But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Lying with a Man as with a Woman

Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.

However, I think what is interesting is the word "abomination" is that it is used 65 times in the Old Testament and TWO times in the New Testament. Think about it.

Well, now that it's Advent, I have taken to my annual "listening to Advent music on live365.com" habit. Of course, the tried and true "John the Baptist Sunday" hymn in Advent, even back in my LCMS childhood, was "On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry," which the station was playing during my lunch.

As a kid, I thought they were talking about Baptists like Baptist church Baptists in the hymn and always wondered what in the world Baptists had to do with liturgical churches. So, now that I'm Episcopalian, and the rank-and-file Baptists probably have even LESS to do with me, I started having my usual flood of slightly naughty lyrics pop out of my head...with apologies to John the Baptist, John Chandler, Charles Coffin and whatever medieval Germans originally penned the music...

On Jordan's bank the Baptists cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
"You Piskies hark, and listen well
Your sorry hides are bound for Hell."

"You cross and kneel and think that's fine,
You share his blood with re-al wine,
The Bible is for you a tool
But not of God's inerrant rule."

The Piskies say, "We fear you not,
You Baptists are a silly lot,
We're not literal, we do admit,
But we don't buy that Hell bullshit."

The Eucharist, we do agree,
Means more to us than 'tis for thee
The wine's his blood, the bread's his head,
We just can't buy the wafer is bread!

After reading the latest on Susan Russell's blog, I suggest the following bumper sticker to be mailed to each board member of the American Family Association...heh heh...


From muthah+...being left-handed myself, I dare say I like this one...I could have been an abomination myself had I just been born in another time!

I wish I had as good a picture from Beartooth Pass (the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park) as fine as this one, but I don't, so I want to thank www.naturalsciences.org for showing this one off on their 2007 Yellowstone Ecology Institute trip. I really resonated with the person in this picture, because that is the same emotion I get over a trip through Beartooth Pass!

Today, Fr. Wallace's sermon was not so much about John the Baptist (I have a feeling I like John the Baptist a little better than him b/c wild men in hair clothes in the woods yelling at people are less scary to me) but more about the reading in Isaiah and the business of "preparing a way for the Lord" during Advent.

The minute our lector C. started reading Isaiah 40: 1-11, my mind slipped into a compilation of the five times I have traversed Beartooth Pass en route to Yellowstone. Beartooth Pass lurked in my brain throughout the homily, and never has left me today.

Here is an e-mail I sent to a friend about a year ago, discussing my fascination with it:

This was about 1982. When my grandmother was alive I used to drive her wherever she wanted on vacation.

We were going to Yellowstone but decided to go in on the north route, rather than the more popular and more traveled one that goes in on the east side through Cody. The north one, “Beartooth pass” doesn’t even open till late June. We went in on the first day it was open. It is very narrow, with a lot of switchbacks and at times you are only going 15 mph. The snowdrifts were still 8 to 12 feet high along the road in some places.

At the top of this pass, you are over 10,000 feet elevation. We decided to pull over in a turnout for a while b/c we were getting weary of following this friggin’ truck and could not see past it. So we stopped at a “scenic turnout”.

Now above 10,000 feet you are above the tree line there. So we are out in this turnout that is just rocks and rubble, but you can look out over this spot and see the trees and stuff below, and the other mountains straight ahead. It looks like the moon.

Where we are standing, it is desolate rubble. But looking out into the distance there is color and beauty and big stark rock outcroppings sticking up in it. To see all of it you have to get out to the rail and look down a little...down several thousand feet...so there is also this little edge of fear to see it. From the car you can’t see the whole picture.

We probably stood there, each of us in our own little world, for about 10-15 minutes in silence (which is sort of a miracle in itself, because my grandmother had a habit of telling me, “You gonna gawk at that forever?” ha ha)

But that high up, the first thing you notice is the LACK of noise. Not a bird, not a squirrel, not nothin’! All I could hear is the wind, and the wind made these really creepy singing noises as it whistled around the rock outcroppings. I thought to myself it is sort like the sirens on the rocks in mythology, because the wind sounded almost “female” at times. But other times the wind sounded “male.” It was an odd feeling because never before or since have I ever felt that wind noise had a “gender”. The combination of looking out at the view plus the cool air plus the wind having “genders” made my chest heave hard and I had that sense of being “aerodynamic”. That sleekness, that feeling that this wind was carrying you places and you just rode along. It was kind of like when you see that old stereotype in the movies where the dude is watching an opera and he gets caught in the sound of it to the place he bursts into tears. Although my emotion was different, it has the sense of it carrying you and your emotions bursting open in the middle of it.

As I prepare my way through the wilderness this Advent, one night I heard the noise of Beartooth Pass outside my house when the NE Missouri winter wind howled outside, with only me and my Advent candle in the soft light inside. It brought back that sense of "awesome desolation." I wondered, "Why do I soooooo dig awesome desolation in nature, but am not really crazy about it in myself?"

Is that noise in the wind, those wind noises with "gender", the dance between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine? Is my fascination to hear them both, to take my notion of God further from the notion of God I so intensely dislike, the notion of "God as an old guy with a white beard and a pissy abusive parent attitude, who is going to kick my ass?" To move my notion of God into "divine unified field" in which masculine and feminine and all things betwixt and between work together as equal parts and equal influences? I wonder.

I have to admit this one wasn't a bad bit of holiday kitsch, either. You can choose between the Archbishop of Canturbury or the Archbishop of York. I'm wondering if some of these will be available in the "Schismatic set"...but they might have to charge more for the former Bishop of San Joaquin because of the added material cost...

I admit to being a huge fan of the annual "12 days of Kitschmas" at Ship of Fools. I think the winner of the twelve this year is this lovely "Jesus Saves" piggy bank.

Of course, I can't get that old joke out of my head..."Jesus saves...but Moses invests!"

So, let's see...what else can I come up with along those lines:

"Jesus saves...but Kirksville recycles."
"Jesus saves...but McMain's Friday night consignment auction re-sells."
"Jesus saves...but I hoard."
"Jesus saves...but his interest rate isn't as good as Alliant Bank of Kirksville."
"Jesus saves...See? He takes good care of your tithe!

Any other bright ones to add to this meme?

This time of year, there's always a point I think about R.

R. was born in May 1949. He was my mother's half-brother, born to her mom and her stepdad, my grandpa. I was born in March 1960. R. got killed in a hunting accident in Nov. 1960, at age 11, about a week before Thanksgiving. He went squirrel hunting with an older boy, Ro., who was like 15-16 at the time, and R. got his .22 rifle hung in the brush while crossing a fence. He made the mistake of not handing the gun over to Ro. when crossing the fence. Somehow as he was pulling it out of the brush by the barrel, it moved the safety to “off” and then the trigger got hung in the brush and it went off, going through his temple.

Of course, back then, no one thought anything about a 15 or 16 year old taking an 11 year old squirrel hunting, and no one ever had to take a gun safety class. But Ro. ran back to the house to get my grandpa and R. was unconscious and they carried him back to the house. Of course, there were no real ambulances in Macon back then, the “ambulance” was the hearse from the local funeral home, and it was just “scoop and run” with no treatment on the way. They took him straight to MU Hospital in Columbia, and took him to surgery to open a window on his skull b/c his brain was swelling. But back then, there was not much you could do about an injury like that. He died the next day.

So the very first Christmas of my life was in a house with a huge pall over it. I obviously don’t remember any of this, but in my mind’s eye, I had to have perceived something that stuck with me the rest of my life.

What I do remember, though, about subsequent Christmases is that R. was always “there” somehow. For that matter, R. was “there” all the time, just more at the holidays. I remember there was a box of toys in the basement that I was never allowed to play with, or, for that matter, even look at. I remember when I did something different or funny, or new, that it was never original—it somehow reminded my grandparents or my mom of R. There was an ornament on my grandmother’s tree that was R.’s, something he made at school one year, and I knew not to mess with “R.’s ornament”. So even the Christmas tree had a ghost hanging on it.

There was a LOT of guilt about R. My grandmother blamed herself b/c she had bought the box of .22 cartridges that killed him. My grandfather blamed himself b/c he did not have time to take him hunting. My mom blamed herself b/c earlier in the day he had wanted to go to the movies with her and she blew him off and told him she didn’t want to go see a Saturday kid movie, she wanted to see a different movie. My great-grandfather blamed himself b/c he had loosened the safety on that rifle b/c his small thumb could not move it well. Lots and lots of blame. No one blamed each other, they all blamed themselves.

My grandpa took it the hardest, because R. was his only child; my mom was his stepchild. He went to the cemetery every week until the day he died. Some of my earliest conscious memories are that I realized I was both a blessing and a complication in my family’s lives. When I was a young adult, my grandpa told me once, “I don’t know what I would have done if you were not around. I think I would have killed myself if not for the fact you were in my life, and I had to be there for you.” But I was a complication in that it made my grandparents want to “parent” me, and they and my folks would frequently go at each other where how I should be handled was the object of discussion.

When I was born, my grandmother was not quite 43 and my grandfather was 35! He wouldn’t turn 36 until December! So it really was like having "two sets of parents." But everyone was just too young in this scenario.

There was also a little bit of the attitude of “St. R.” around the house. R. would have eaten his vegetables, that kind of stuff. He was always "there" somehow. I was not jealous of him, but I did wonder why I had to have someone around all the time I did not know.

It put strange ideas and fears in my head even as a very small child. When I got sick as a child, I used to worry I would die, and I wasn’t so much worrying about dying as I was that I knew if I died, everyone would be REALLY messed up b/c they had already lost R. I carried with me a fear of “dying young” clear into adulthood, and I still worry now and then about it, but I think the only reason I don’t worry so much about it anymore is I ain’t so young anymore. But unlike a lot of kids, I already knew children can die.

I also carried with me the realization that, had he lived, he and I would have been more like brother and sister instead of uncle and niece. Being an only child, it was interesting at times to wonder what that would have been like. Again, no big loss, just a wonderment.

But what R.’s death did was it made it so no Christmas could ever be completely happy for my grandparents. He would come up somewhere, and my grandmother would get all teary-eyed and my grandpa would get all sullen. You knew R.’s ghost had visited. They had to have imagined “Christmases that would never be.” You could tell that was on their mind once in a while. My grandmother used to rationalize some of it by saying things like, “Well, even if he had lived, he might have had to have gone to Vietnam, and we still could have been burying him, and that would have been just as bad.”

There were two weird things I remember well. One year for Christmas, I wanted one of those little tin miniature gas stations with the cars and the little gas pumps and the garage with the lift where you put the little cars on to “work on them”. I had gotten one from my grandparents but there was something “not right” about it. It didn’t look like the one in the Sears catalog...and the cars seemed more like “older models”. I pretty quickly figured out that was one of R.’s toys. Another year I wanted an .027 gauge train set—you know, the bigger ones, not the HO gauge ones. Again, the boxes looked “not quite right.” I realized again this had been R.’s train set. I enjoyed those toys, but it was a little creepy getting a dead kid’s toys for Christmas and realizing they are a dead kid’s toys, and all the adults not saying a word like they could put this over on me. Oooooo....another round of “Let’s pretend,” huh? I never told any of them that I knew.

I have no memories of him, obviously, but I found out things later...mostly when my grandmother was in the last few months of her dying of cancer. She got to talking a little about R. one day, and she got to talking about those 8 months we were both on the planet together. She told me that they were all worried about he would handle my arrival and they all got quite a surprise.

She said, “We were all worried he would feel left out and it was just the opposite. He was crazy about you. Kept wanting to put his ear on your mom’s belly, and put his hand on her and feel you kick. When you were born, they would not let kids up to see the babies and he pitched such a fit we had to get permission for your mom to bring you out on the porch of Samaritan Hospital and he stood on the lawn because the nurses would not let him get close b/c back then they thought little kids had germs or something. Then when your mom brought you home, we had to get after him b/c he wanted to walk around with you and play with you instead of let you sleep. He wanted to take you everywhere with him. He would put you in the basket of his bicycle when we weren’t looking and we were scared shitless you’d fall out, but he would just ride around with one hand on you and you weren’t a bit scared, you just laughed. He wanted us to bring you to his Little League games. He would even change your diaper, and your grandfather wouldn’t even do that. The day he died we had to get after him that morning because he put you in his wagon and was dragging you around the yard and you kept falling out.”

Then she started talking about how at 8 months, I was not really “talking” so much as babbling but I had my own little language and I sort of had names for everyone that weren’t even close to their names, but she knew I was talking to a certain person b/c I used THAT word for that person. She said I called R. “Ghee-ghee”. After R. died, she said I crawled around the house looking in all the rooms going, “Ghee-ghee? Ghee-ghee?” and looking confused and that just tore them up.

I had never been told any of this stuff. I was not sure it was real, or whether she was just playing the “St. R.” card.

Then, after my grandmother died, and we were getting ready to put stuff in the sale, I ran across a small stack of black and white pictures that were buried in a drawer in my grandmother’s bedroom. They were pictures of R. holding me as a baby, and I realized my grandmother wasn’t making that stuff up she had told me. Some of them, he was cradling me as an infant, some of them I am a little bigger and he his holding me up on his hip with my arms around him, and one of them was in his wagon. But in all of them, he was simply beaming. He had a little resemblance to me, and the best way I can describe it is, if you have ever seen me beaming, there is a lot of that look in there in him, and “me as a baby” looks perfectly happy with the whole arrangement.

Last night, I was putting myself in R.’s shoes. Now, I have no clue what we all do when we end up where “light perpetual” shines on us. I have no idea how that fits in a plane where there is no pain and suffering. But all at once, for the first time in my life, I got to thinking about things that “never happened” with R. and me. Would he have taken me sledding, down hills that would have scared the bejezus out of most kids my age? Would he have hassled my first serious boyfriend? Would he have been the person I would have “debriefed” with on the phone when weird things happened? How would it have been having cousins that I will never know in my life, if he had lived, married, had kids? Have there been times, from his vantage point where he is now, that he wanted to “check in” on these insignificant moments in my life? Since I never really KNEW him, I have no fantasies of him. But HE knew ME...maybe it is different from his vantage point. Has he been at some time what we casually call a guardian angel and I never even knew it?

It must be really strange, being a child who dies, and have the sum total of the secrets of the universe thrown at you at the moment of death, and suddenly be imbued with knowledge “beyond adult”. I’m an adult, and a smart one at that, and that concept boggles MY mind. I can’t even imagine being handed all that information when you were an 11 year old!

When it is my turn in the barrel, will I recognize him? It won’t be like “making up for lost time,” but will there, when we are both in the same plane, a connection between us in some way? That is pretty mind boggling stuff!

His death left a hole in my family. It left a hole in me of which I have never really felt any sort of an “inheritance.” But I have a strong belief that among the people close to you, there are things about their “aura” that get incorporated in your aura, and we assimilate these things. I never knew this boy, but he knew me, and he interacted with me in a way that was very unusual for an 11 year old boy. Most 11 year old boys would not want to be dragging a baby around. Maybe it’s possible part of how I interact and respond to other people has a pinch or two of the “ground of his being” in me. I mean, I know people like my grandfather do. But I knew them. For someone that I do not really remember to have that power, well, that is big stuff. It opens the possibility that love that we are consciously unaware of affects us.

Ooooooo, and maybe that is (gulp) part of the power of Advent????? I think sometimes about “Jesus the person” and “Jesus the Christ”, and when it comes to Jesus the person, yeah, I know about him in a historical sense, but in a human relational sense “I don’t know the guy.” But maybe I do, and maybe somehow we are all connected by a pinch of the divine and he is able to love us in a way that most of the time, we are consciously unaware of it. Maybe we are connected to the Buddha, or Lao Tzu, or Ghandi, or Mohammed, or Mother Theresa in the same way, for that matter. I am not going to get hung up on any notions of Christianity having cornered the market on this.

But maybe one of the revelations for Advent for me this year is the recognition that a person I never knew can have influence on me. Maybe this is the modus operandi of Christianity. Who knows?

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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