Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm not one to believe in coincidences, but things just seem to keep falling into place...

First, I decide to talk to my priest about starting the discernment process (two years ago). He throws up the first roadblock... I need to get my undergraduate degree first. Well, being a lowly civil servant with wife and our first child on the way, there is no way I can pay for it on my own. So I apply for a program through the VA to get my degree online. It's approved and now school is paid for...

Next, I start looking into seminaries. It did't look like I'd be able to afford it, and my GI Bill expires soon. Then congress passes the new GI Bill for veterans that served after 9/11/01 (that would be me) giving us more money for school, a stipend to live on, and pays for most of our books... and the expiration date is extended to 15 years from the date of discharge...

Now (though smaller miracles), I am scheduled to attend the fall visitation at Seminary of the Southwest on 11/13-14. I was concerned that I would be splitting my attention between my current school and the visit, but it turns out that my classes this term end on the 11/10 and start back up on 11/18. AND... the bonus for meeting our goal in a competition at work hits my account on ... 11/13.

Like I said, I am not one to believe in coincidences. It actually sort of scares me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

There's a special place...

Great News!!!!

One of my best friends, Molly, just told me she is getting married!!! They plan on doing the deed in Colorado on the Winter Solstice. I am so tickled for her! She lost her previous husband to melanoma 5 years ago, so this is a big step for her. Please keep her in your prayers in praise of this joyous occasion!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prayers Please

Spud and Sprout both have the crud this week and poor Mrs. H. has hardly slept a wink in three days.

I'm also in a bit of a funk after I made the mistake of sending my Dad, a die hard Pat Robertson fan and conservative, a copy of Spong's Manifesto. Big mistake... and now I am dealing with the consequences. Dad and I are on opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum, and that can be tough when he's someone I've admired and looked up to forever. His response broke my heart in more ways than I think he knows.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spong's Manifesto

Ruth Gleidenhall posted this on the Times Online site... I reprint it here:

"I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured."
'I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.
'The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't.'
'I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives.'
In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan.
I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church.
The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.

I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of colour, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it."
--Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong...

All I can answer to this is "Amen".

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Excitement Abounds...

The news in brief:

All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, AR (my home church) has been in the process of purchasing land on which to finally build on. The Diocese of Arkansas has approved the purchase, and we'll be holding an outdoor service on Oct 25th at the new property to celebrate. This is a very exciting time for our young mission, and it's been fun to watch it grow from a small congregation into a thriving church.

In other news, Sprout will be christened on November 1st at All Saints/Christ the King in Bentonville. Anyone in the Bentonville area that day is welcome to attend. She had her well-baby check on Tuesday and has grown 2 whole inches and has gained over 2 pounds!

And finally, the whole gang, (me, Mrs. H, Spud and Sprout) will be headed to Austin, TX, next month to visit the Seminary of the Southwest. I am looking forward to seeing what is there and hoping that I can get a bit more direction in where this journey is going.

That pretty much sums up what is going on in the Hillbilly Household at the moment. Going back to full time at school plus work and baby and toddler and Mrs. and Church have been keeping me on my toes for sure.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some thoughts on yesterday's Gospel reading

Mark 10:2-16

Much of this covered the question of divorce. This struck home for me, as my baby sister will be getting remarried this coming summer. Because of this set of verses, her regular pastor, a devout Full Gospel minister that has oversaw every sibling's marriage but mine, will not preside over this one. Between this and a friend's sermon yesterday on how the divorce of her parents after 34 years of marriage affected her recently and other messes in my extended family's lives made me think long and hard on what Jesus really meant in this passage. So let's look at the points here:

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her."

In the first place, this is a test. My Lutheran friend's sermon brought up an interesting point. Divorce was pretty common in first century Palestine, much like today. Were the Pharisees asking if divorce was legal, to which they already knew the answer, or were they asking how one should go about it? Their offhanded way of answering his rebuttal shows that they weren't really interested in what the marriage was, just whether or not they could legally end it. This is where Jesus turns the scriptures back on them:

But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

Here are the kicker verses, and the ones that have caused the most grief. So let's look a little deeper here. "Because of your hardness of heart..." We all know by now that the Pharisees would let their own mothers die on the Sabbath rather than break the law to go get a doctor for her. I believe, Jesus is practicing the age old art of sarcasm. Sort of like, "Yes, Moses says this, but if you want to really follow the scriptures you have read this part..." He knows, like everyone else, that sometimes we humans are unable to live up to the standard that God set for us. Nobody is perfect, and nobody can know what is coming 5, 10, or 34 years down the road. It's not, as it appears, an admonition against divorce. It's more of a zinger meant to throw their piety back on them in a way to make them question their idea of piety.

Marriage itself has evolved over the millenia. From biblical times until around the time of the troubadours, marriage was about property rights and alliances. These were arranged usually by the families involved and the husband and wife to be had little say in the matter. Wives in these times were little more than chattel, bargaining chips used to forge dynasties. It wasn't until the middle ages that monogamy became the standard in most of the world. And today the debate rages about whether or not we can allow same sex unions to be included in the umbrella of marriage. I think we should keep all of this in mind when we attempt to understand the "mind of God" in reading verses like this.