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

I definitely like these!

You might be Episcopalian if…

…It takes four people to change a light bulb in church. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, one to say, “but my mother donated that light bulb!” and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

…When the Holy Spirit touches you, you don't raise your hands and shout Hallelujuah, rather you scratch your chin, turn to your neighbor and whisper "hmmm, . . . that was a good point."

…You scowl when saying words like "Baptist" & "Evangelical".

… You first quote the Book of Common Prayer and then say, "Oh yeah, the Bible says this somewhere, too."

… You are personally repulsed by Campus Crusade for Christ.

… Saying a blessing before the first round of drinks doesn't seem strange to you at all.

…Coffee is a line item in the official church budget.

… you're watching "Star Wars" and when they say, "May the force be with you," you reply, "and also with you." have an uncontrollable urge to sit in the back of any room.

…you can argue theology with yourself when one else is around.

...sharing the peace during the service takes more time than the sermon.

…if the church were on fire, you would rush in and save the coffee pot.

… you know what a "dead spread" is.

… you know what an “undercroft,” a “sacristy,” and a “narthex” is.

…you believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

…you believe your priests will visit you in the hospital, even if you don't notify them that you are there.

…you feel guilty for not staying to clean up after your own wedding reception in the undercroft.

…you believe the Bible forbids you from crossing the aisle when passing the peace.

… it's 110 degrees outside and you still have coffee after services.

ADDENDUM: More "You might be Episcopalianisms..." here.

"I am by religion like everything else. I think there is more in acting than in talking. I had an uncle who said when one of his neighbors got religion strong on Sunday, he was going to lock his smokehouse on Monday. I think he was right from the little I have observed." (Harry Truman, from a letter to Bess Wallace, February 7, 1911. Papers Relating to Family, Business, and Personal Affairs at the Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.)

Anyone who knows me knows that one of the five people I want to meet in Heaven is Harry Truman. I have been fascinated with him since childhood, because he was simply "like us." As a child, I always imagined Presidents as having perfect "oratory voices." The first time I watched a film in school (yes, I predate video; we watched 16mm films in school!) where I actually heard Truman speak, I was captivated. He sounded just like any of my male relatives or like any "down home" person from rural northern Missouri.

As I grew older, the more I learned about him, the more I admired him. Harry taught me a lot about life--about not being afraid to be the "little guy", about doing what's right when everyone thinks you're a fool, and about speaking plainly, even if it is in a somewhat graphic, rough, and illustrative way. (My friends and relatives would tell you Harry and I share a common vocabulary.)

Now, Harry called himself a "lightfoot Baptist", but the more I've learned about him the more I've come to believe that the Episcopalian way of thinking permeated his religious beliefs. Bess was an Episcopalian, and Harry paid a lot of attention to what "the Boss" (his name for Bess) had to say. When Harry spoke publicly about religion, it seems to me that he understood just the right amount of "positive vagueness", which is certainly quasi-Episcopalian, such as this 1949 radio address on the program "Religion in American Life."

I'm guessing that the only thing Harry could not handle, though, was the "top-down" structure of TEC, all those bishops and such were just too hierarchical for his populist look at the world. He often pointed to the "ground up" structure of the Baptist church. When Harry died, and was buried at the Truman Library, he had an Episcopalian burial.

Yes, Harry called himself a Baptist, but he thought a lot like an Episcopalian and he was buried like one. As much as I admire Harry, it's nice to know we will be sent off in the same way (although I am in no rush for my sendoff!)

I have been a "one-tattoo" person for many years now but lately have been cogitating over getting a 2nd one--especially since I've been admiring some of the work on the a site devoted entirely to religious tattoos. I was particularly intrigued with their page of triquetra tattoos. Trinity's bulletin has one of those on the front every week.

One can argue that the triquetra is a pagan Celtic symbol but as best as I can tell, it has also been a symbol for the Trinity in an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels from 800 C.E. So there.

My Lutheran pastor friend/extended relative has a pastor friend who has a magnificent Luther Rose on her arm. I have seen some pretty impressive Rock of Ages "Sailor's Cross" tattoos done locally. Now that a lot of the social stigmata of tastefully sized tattoos is a thing of the past, I really think there is a form of "silent evangelism" in a cool religious tattoo, as well as it being something that can enhance one's "connectedness" with God.

I know my one tattoo (the one at the top of this entry) kept me connected with Kirksville. I got it when I was living 90 miles away and was terribly homesick for Kirksville. It was a time in my life I felt I'd never find my way back to NE Missouri to live. So, I walked into a tattoo parlor and made sure I always had Kirksville with me, to last me until I could be back to stay, and had it done in "Truman State" color.

I realize some folks will point to Leviticus and the admonition to cut or tattoo our bodies but those are the same folks who seem to want to use Leviticus for all sorts of reasons besides eating shrimp or wearing cotton-poly blend.

It took me a long time just to decide on the specifics of my simple solo tattoo. I wanted it to be a "connecting" thing. I wanted it to be rich in symbolism for me. I wanted it to not look too goofy when I am in the nursing home, and be in a location that won't be totally stretched out when I am old and flabby.

So I guess you could say I am in the discernment process; I have been in this for about a year now, so I'm getting a little anxious to get it done. I do want my next one to be of a religious nature but I want it to be unique to me somehow. Symbolism has to be a part of it. I'd like this one to be a little more flashy and colorful. I want it to connect with how I see God connecting to me. I must say these triquetras are very attractive and it is a very alluring design for me. But I have to think on it some more.

Well, three of us had discovered bats at either home or work. On Monday, Debby caught a bat at the Adair County courthouse. Sometime during the week Laura discovered one in her home. Friday I caught one in the hallway of my office. It appears Kirksville has had a bat infestation and somehow none of these bats has found their way to church. The fact that three parishioners have discovered three bats at different places downtown yet no bats have shown up at Trinity is a positive sign...and maybe attests to the power of the new storm doors!

I am guessing the 100 degree plus weather here in "da Ville" has forced the bats out of their usual daytime hiding places.

You know, had the three of us had been struck with any sense, we should have brought all our respective bats by to show Wallace and claim we saw them OUTSIDE the church. "See! the storm doors are working! This bat was trying to get in!" We could have gotten real brownie points for that, since he loves the idea someone else gets the bats out of church before he has to encounter them.

Today Wallace agreed to leave the church open all day so people can stop in to pray and remember Andy (I've changed his name) and his family, as he undergoes 16 hours worth of extensive surgery today.

This is a scenario I've seen far too often in this town, because a lot of times it is what I know about the initial biopsy that gets the ball rolling. It's always seemed to me that faculty at Truman State seem to get their share of "weird" malignancies. They can't have the run of the mill breast and colon cancers, they seem to be befallen with more "exotic" ones.

But the fact of the matter is that Andy's exotic cancer has not responded well to radiation and chemotherapy so the only chance he has at long term survival is a grueling and disfiguring piece of surgery. Even if he beats the tumor, he is going to have to deal with his physical body being far different than it was before.

In a college town of 17,000, we Kirkatoids know quite a few of each other. Andy and his wife are good friends with our Laura here at Trinity. It doesn't matter that Andy belongs to the church down the street...the church we kind of make fun of b/c they are clueless about Lent and put up signs that say "Happy Lent." It doesn't matter that a lot of us don't care for the minister of that church, because of various interactions he's had with certain key people at Trinity. Our church doors are open today so we can remember Andy and his family in prayer...because his life intersects with a lot of people at our church. It's as simple as that.

Today makes two things run through my mind. One is Laura's courage for getting the ball rolling to make this happen. Laura's husband died of a more difficult sort of cancer almost 2 years ago today. She's very good friends with Andy and his wife. I think she and her late husband used to pal around with them to some degree. So her taking charge of this activity is very very deja vu for her, I'm sure. I see this a lot, too, in our small town. Someone who lost a loved one to cancer becomes the rock for the next family who faces the big C. I have to remember to pray for her today, too.

The other is this whole concept of praying for people even when there is a connection of a thread of dislike in the story, or even for someone you out and out dislike, period. I won't deny there is a little smug part of me that says, "Yeah, we need to pray for Andy b/c his own minister is not going to be much help." The minister from The Church Down The Street, IMO, is not very good at all at pastoral care for the ill or dying. He pretty much leaves it up to his underlings and lay help. Then at the funeral, he blows on and on about "how he was with N. as he was dying." Ugh.

I have had to think about this "praying for people you don't like" thing a lot this week. There are at least two people this month who have been difficult people in my life. I visited with Wallace about this, told him about a suggestion I saw on another simply pray, "Bless so-and-so, change me." We discussed what that sort of presented in the way of a challenge.

The first part, he said, implies that we have to address what it is about ourselves that we don't like that the difficult person's behavior throws back in our own faces. I added it also makes me realize this is not an "either/or" proposition. Blessing someone else does not remove a blessing meant for me. It's not like I have to give up something to ask for this.

The second part, he alluded, sort of forces our hand in "recognizing good in the other person and respecting their worth as a human being." I added that it also faced me with a counter-intuitive notion--my gut response to this concept is, "I'm not the one who needs to change--THEY are," but upon further examination I realize that to deal with people we don't like, we still have to change if we have any expectation of getting beyond that visceral dislike and get to some sort of acceptance of the situation as "difficult." Not to mention I personally get stubborn about change.

So the short version is I will probably swing by after work to Trinity. I will remember Andy and his family. I will remember Laura and her family. I will remember The Church Down The Street, as well as (sigh) their minister. I will remember the two difficult people in my life this month. I will ask for others to be blessed, and for me to (grunt, wiggle, squirm) be changed. I guess I will have to trust God's ability to know what He's doing in that department.

I hear my Uncle Willis' voice. He has told me many times over the years, "You put up quite a fuss sometimes, but eventually you do what's right, even if it is begrudgingly...and begrudgingly is better than not at all, because you are at least handing SOMETHING over to God and he can take care of the rest."

Baby Minu (pronounced "mee-new") is Trinity's newest congregant, and we were all glad to welcome him into the fold today.

I have to confess that I always enjoy baptisms and confirmations. Although the verbiage in the BCP seems a little on the Rite One-ish side, there are parts that I really like to take to heart as well as poke a little fun at in the process. First, the fun-poking...

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

For some odd reason, I always have flashbacks of "The Exorcist" at this part. I was probably ruined on ever taking this part too seriously by virtue of being junior high age when that movie came out and begging a friend's older siblings to take me to that movie, since it was rated "R" at the time. I know I really should be thinking about the presence of real evil in the world, but all I can see in my mind's eye is Linda Blair's head spinning, and puking split pea soup. That and I hear Dana Carvey's Church Lady saying the word "Satan."

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

I usually think about my hard drive at this point.

Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

All of 'em? Well...ok, but you know at least one of them is going to come back and bite me in the rear. That one's just not gonna stick for long, human nature being what it is.

But on a more serious note, I do like the part in the thanksgiving over the water that goes, "...that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior."

I like to think about that "continue for ever" part. I'm sure I'm not the only one who ever lies in bed at night and once in a while, gets that icy grip on my chest and hears that voice that says, "Maybe this is all BS...maybe everything I believe is just a fairy tale and when we die, that's it." That moment when the world is only what we see and experience and the lack of that is "the end." Or maybe that other "heart of darkness" thought sneaks in...that we do continue on, but we are not "us" and we all get assimilated into some big spiritual Borg where we are no longer an individual, and therefore have no recollection of who we were. Resistance is futile. Hearing the thanksgiving over the water is a bit of an antidote to that.

My other favorite part is, "Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and a gift of joy and wonder in all your works." Although that is a prayer for the newly baptized, every time I hear it, it speaks to me again and again. It is another antidote to those "heart of darkness" moments. To have an inquiring and discerning heart means it's ok to experience those moments of darkness and fear. It's ok to have those times in your life (like in my previous post about my cousin Jay) where you experience those "Oh, Lord, the sea is so big and my boat is so small" life episodes...when you feel your boat is the Andrea Gail and you are hitting that 50 foot wave and you realize you are NOT George Clooney.

Welcome, Minu. We are glad to share what we believe with you, and thanks to you, we have an opportunity to be reminded of these promises, ourselves, and affirm them in our hearts!

Just had to put this picture of one of my long eared equine friends here on the farm so I can have a picture for my Blogger profile!



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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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