Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why DADT Matters (The Other Side of the Coin)

Imagine for just a moment that your wife or husband is serving in the Army and has been deployed to Afghanistan. Think of the loneliness you feel each night and the fear that your spouse may not come home. Think of the support network that you would have with other spouses of deployed service members whom you can share your fears and hopes with. Now imagine getting the news that your husband or wife was killed in action. Again, remember the network of other spouses that you have made friends with who will be there to help you grieve.

Now imagine that your spouse or partner is the same sex as you. Who do you turn to without getting your spouse or partner drummed out of the service? Who comes to tell you if they are killed in action? If you are like many LGBT men and women with deployed partners, possibly no one.

Much of the debate being aired in Washington and elsewhere about the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy of the US Military focuses on the service members themselves. But what about the families they leave behind? On top of the usual baggage that comes with being in a same sex relationship, they also have to deal with the loneliness and fear of the military finding out about them.

This is why the repeal of DADT is so important. It's not just for our LGBT servicemen and women who are bravely fighting for freedoms that they themselves will not be able to share. It's also for the brave partners and spouses of these brave Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen that are left behind.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thoughts on Sunday's Readings

I was looking over the Lectionary this morning and Jesus words to the 70 stood out. In particular were the words, "Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you." Considering where the Episcopal Church is currently, they are words to consider. TEC has taken a stand, a very unpopular one at that. We have decided to live out the Gospel message and welcome all and fully include them in our common life regardless of who they are.

This is a message that is difficult for many. Here in Northwest Arkansas, it is an especially hard message to deliver. Our struggles against years of fear and prejudice based on misunderstandings of the different seem to fall on deaf ears. The message today, like it was 2000 years ago, is unwelcome. So what are we to do? Do we simply move on; leave our families and friends? Do we simply give up?

I don't think so. A seed has been planted; one that is slowly taking root. We are the receivers of this message. We who welcomed the inclusiveness of the Gospel have to stay and tend to it. Like all seeds, the message of the Resurrection must be fertilized, watered and cared for if it is to grow properly. Even now the weeds of doubt, hatred and fear threaten to choke out the love of God that begs to be shown to all people. It is up to us to tend this garden, even when it seems a lost cause.

Jesus also said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." We are those laborers. Rather than rail against those who would reject the message of all encompassing love, we need to show them that God's Grace is extended to all. That is our mission.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Really Starting...

Well, the committe is selected. Everyone who was asked has said "Yes" and the dates for the next three meetings have been put on the calendar. The wheels are finally turning!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Prayers for a Friend

Please pray for my friend Lisa and her son Jacob. From her most recent Facebook posts:

Please pray for Jacob he isn't doing good we are going on 48 hours of no sleep and he is hallucinating..... I'm very scared. I think it is time I let him go to professionals that know what they are doing...

Well I just called Youth Villages a councelor is on her way here now, should be here within the hour. Jacob is walking around hallucinating still, calling me that girl saying I talk just like his mother, he has fallen he tried to get out the front door thank goodness I managed to get up a hotel lock yesterday morning or he could of been a missing little boy. Please pray, sounds like we are lakeside bound.

Lisa has been going through so much right now with a divorce from a abusive relationship. Please pray for her and for Jacob.

Gracious and loving God: be with Lisa and Jacob in their time of need. Comfort them in their time of need and heal them as only you know how. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

And it Begins... Sort of

I spoke with Fr. Roger again today about going to see Bishop Benfield about starting the official discernment process. His answer? We're forming a pre-discernment committee to meet a couple times before approaching the Bishop. More red tape. Well, nothing worth doing is done quickly, I guess. It is frustrating. I mean I've spent the last 18 months working on the degree to get to this point. Well, if I can get my 4 year degree in 18 months while holding down a full time job and with a wife and two babies at home I think I can make it to the next step.

In the meantime, please pray for me that no matter what happens I accept whatever it is Christ has in store for me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

This Just In... Archbishop Of Canterbury Sends the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church in Canada to Their Rooms Without Supper

I just finished reading Archbishop Rowan Williams' Pentecost letter, and I must say, I am not impressed. He uses a lot of big words to tell us he wants to put us in "time out" until we learn our lesson and stop treating LGBT members of our congregations like members of our congregations. No word in his letter about the awful law coming down the pipe in Uganda or the gay couple who were sentenced to 14 years hard labor for getting married. Nothing much about bishops from other countries poaching churches and in some cases entire diocese from TEC. Oh no, it's all our fault. Excuse us for trying to live out the Golden Rule.

+++ Rowan's actions remind me of the President in Monsters Vs. Aliens, "Listen up! I'm not going to go down as the President who was in office when the world came to an end, so somebody think of something, and think of it fast!" That train has already left the station. ACNA is now a separate entity from us. Time to move on.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Two requests...

First, one of my best friends and Sprout's Godfather, James, lost his uncle suddenly to a heart attack. Please keep him in prayer tonight.

Also, I just found out that my Grandma Maxine is in the hospital with some form of colitis. They say she is going to be OK after the antibiotics they are giving her kick in, but prayers would still be appreciated.



Arkansas Hillbilly
Update from Dad's cousin Shelia:
I just spoke to Maxine - she is feeling much better. She had an infection in her stomach and must have had a blood clot in her colon, but the treatment is working. They just fed her and she said if she keeps it down with no problems, she can go home tomorrow.
I want to thank everyone for your prayers!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If You Want a Bible Based Country (Are You Seeing a Pattern Here?)

Leviticus 19:33-34:
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24.14:
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.

Deuteronomy 27.19:
19 ‘Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

Zechariah 7.10:
10 do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.

Ezekiel 16.49:
49 This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where Did It Come From?

A couple of weeks ago, Mrs. H. told me about a religious fiction book she was reading that was full of the old cliche's about Christians and Non Christians. Then with my cousin's posting about wanting to be more in church and not in the world, the wheels started spinning. Something that I remember being drilled into my head, especially in the Southern Baptist environment was, "We shoule be in the world but not of the world." Where did that saying come from? Dad taught me to doubt everything someone tells me until I see it myself, so I had to go back and look for the verse that tells us to separate ourselves like that. I was actually shocked when I found out that it's not in there! Jesus never says these words.

The closest that anyone comes to saying is the writer of the Gospel of John. John 15:19 says, "If you belonged to the world,* the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. " Further along, in chapter 19: 13-16 Jesus says in his prayer, " But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.* I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.* They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. "(emphasis mine) Quite a different view.

In 1st century Judaism separations were everywhere. There was a class structure in place of clean and unclean. People who were deemed "unclean": gentiles, women who were menstrating or had just given birth, lepers, the sick and poor, were not able to enter into society and were kept on the outside margins. Jesus ministry was as much about breaking down those barriers as about anything else. His resurrection was about reconciling all of humanity to God, an open invitation that put the Samaritan and Roman on the same footing as the Pharisee and Scribe. That is the gospel, the Good News, that the Apostles were told to spread.

But somewhere along the way we lost that. Today we hear devout Christians talk about home schooling their children, listening to only Contemporary Christian music, reading Christian fiction, watching only Christian TV stations, voting for only Christian political candidates. This dilutes the inclusive message of our Savior. Christians now look at those that are "Unbelievers" as the "Other", when our own holy writings tell us that there is no difference between us. St. Paul boldly says in Galatians 3: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. " and in Romans, "For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."

Looking back on a campaign started by an Evangelical pastor, I have to ask, would Jesus wall himself off like this? Would he tell us to create our own culture, or would he instead encourage us to go out into the world and be a force for change? Will we continue to look at those most in need of love as "other", or will we instead "embrace the leper" as St. Francis did, and see that divine spark, the Christ in everybody? Will we continue to shun someone because they are different, speak differently, love differently, or worship differently, or call God by a different name than we do? Will I continue to do this? Will you? What Would Jesus Do?

Monday, May 10, 2010

School's Out!!

I just turned in the last two assignments for school, which means I am officially done with my coursework for the BSBA in Human Resources. Wow! I am about to be a college graduate, one of the first, if not the first in my family to do it. I am so excited I could just cry.

Now comes the really fun part. The discernment process sounds kind of like tearing your heart out of your chest, rubbing salt in the wound, having a group of people examine said heart, then put it back in your chest. After doing this for about a year, Bishop Benfield will have the final say on whether or not I get to go for the MDIV or MAR degree.

But for now... I'm celebrating... Cue the "Pomp and Circumstance"! Where's my robe and square hat?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chief... June 2000- May 3, 2010

This morning Chris' prized Yorkie, Chief, was hit by a car. Without going into details, I can tell you from my limited medical expertise with humans that it was over too quick for him to know what happened and that he didn't suffer. Apparently he snuck out of the house in the midmorning to go see his friend (a white fuzzball of a dog) across the street. A lady from the neighborhood came and told us what happened, and I ran outside to get him out of the street. I cradled him for a bit and just came unglued. I don't know how long I cried and babbled.

I dug a grave for him, and we laid him to rest with some of his favorite toys in a nice shady spot in the back yard.

The hardest part this evening was trying to explain to Eli why he couldn't go get Chief when we got home from the store and why he wouldn't be following us upstairs to Eli's bedroom tonight.

Chris and I first brought Chief home shortly after we got our first apartment 10 years ago. He was a runt of a puppy that both of us fell in love with. He grew into a good dog, if a bit crotchety at times and big for a Yorkie. He was Chris' companion when I was away on deployments, and she was his human. He simply tolerated me. Now he's sleeping with the angels. Maybe God will be able to finally teach him to pee outside. No, he'll probably get his own scotchguard carpet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Marriage Matters

As many who friended me on Facebook already know, Kathy Berg, a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, died this past Sunday. Mrs. H, Spud and Sprout took dinner over for her surviving partner/wife and daughter. We listened to what happened at the hospital, and what Philine went through that fateful afternoon, and I thought I would share it with all of you.

They were transported to the hospital, and Philine and Amanda were pretty banged up, but OK. Kathy, on the other hand, was in critical condition after being thrown from the vehicle. Philine had called one of Kathy's sisters, and they were at the hospital too. Only one nurse would talk with Philine about Kathy's condition, and that was just to say that she had some fractures and such. The medical staff at Northwest Medical in Bentonville had taken Kathy's family into the chapel to tell them about her condition and what her chances were. It wasn't until one of Kathy's sisters told the staff that Philine was Kathy's wife and she should be the one making the decisions that anyone let her into the loop. If it weren't for the support of Kathy's family, Philine would not have known what was happening until it was too late.

Now take a page from Jesus and put yourself in Philine's shoes for just a moment. Here you are, just after a car wreck, injured and in shock. Your spouse is in the same hospital, but no one will tell you what is happening. You aren't allowed to go and see the person you have shared your life with and have been raising a child with. No one will talk to you about her condition. Even when the rest of your family arrives at the hospital, you are left out of the loop. Wouldn't that make you angry? Wouldn't you want to spend the last moments of your wife or husband's life next to them, holding their hand? How would you react in this situation.

This is the same situation that lesbian and gay couples face whenever they go to the hospital. Even with power of attorney, living wills, and domestic partnership papers, they are many times left out of these critical decisions and robbed of the last moments of their parters lives. Sometimes, as in the case in Miami last year, the patient dies alone as her partner and children fight for just a minute with them. And it is bullshit.

I personally don't give a damn what conservative Christians reading this think of homosexuality. I don't care what label you want to put on it or how much you think you are "defending the sanctity of marriage" by voting down marriage status to same sex couples. People deserve to have the people who have shared their life's journeys with them close by. Whether you are gay or straight, if you have dedicated your life to being with someone else, then you have a right to be with them in their time of need PERIOD. To deny a loving couple this fundamental right is more evil than anything you in your self righteous minds could ever think that they are doing behind closed doors.

This brought the marriage equality issue home to me in more of a way than reading about the plight of others. This happened in my back yard, to people I care about. And I am tired of my friends being treated like subhumans. It has to end.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New York Times Weighs in on Act 1

The New York Times has an editorial about Arkansas Act 1 here. It affirms my opinion that the "broad net" approach was too vague and was meant to discriminate agains one group "teh Gays" and actually hurt the children in Arkansas awaiting adoption and good foster homes. According to the editorial:

A 2009 report by the Arkansas Department of Human Services found 517 children awaiting adoption but only 228 adoptive homes available.

In this case, just like with the Jim Crowe laws in the 20th century, the majority in Arkansas is wrong. There is no "Gay Agenda" except to be accepted as people and not second class citizens or a dispised and outcast group. Gee, what a crime... to want to be treated like a human being. Shame on Arkansas.

One final glimmer of hope in the conclusion:

What is most important is the ruling’s recognition of Act 1’s discriminatory and unwarranted disqualification of potential parents, no matter how prepared and eager they are to give children a good home. That sound bottom line should survive any appeal.

I pray it is so.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

War Eagle Cave...

One of the most surreal experiences I ever had was in War Eagle Cave near Rogers. As we walked through the cave, we listened to stories of Jesse James and other outlaws and bootleggers who had used the cave throughout the years. Somehow, being inside the womb of the Earth like that puts me in a more contemplative mood. Two things in particular stood out, and made a dramatic impact on my thinking.

When we reached the end of the trail, the guide turned off all of the lights and we were plunged into total darkness. This was a darkness so deep and so black that it actually hurt my eyes as they seemed to search frantically on their own for any source of light. After a minute or so, our guide turned on his flashlight and the world suddenly seemed as bright as if the Sun were shining down on us. I was amazed that one small light could have such an impact on our senses.

The same thing applies in our world today. There are still places where people are trapped in painful darkness of lonliness, poverty, shame and grief. Injustices surround us to where many of us feel like we are in that dark cave, frantically searching for one small light, one sliver of hope to dispell the oppressive night that they are in.

In order for this to happen, we have to present that light to the world. The Christophers have a motto, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness". For action to be taken, for injustices to be righted, people need to know. That is why it is so important to share these stories when you hear of them and to take some sort of action when you can. Stand up for what you know is right.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update on Act 1 and an Asshat Award

According to the Max Brantly at the Arkansas Times, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is going to appeal Friday's Circuit Court ruling that I discussed earler. From the Arkansas Times:

Initiated Act 1 was approved by approximately 57 percent of the voters in the 2008 election. I believe the people of Arkansas deserve to have the state’s highest court decide whether or not to override their decision. Therefore, I have instructed attorneys in my office to appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling on Initiated Act 1 to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

McDaniel's earlier statement said, "A number of factors will have to be considered and evaluated before a decision is made as to whether an appeal would be in the best interests of the state." I've asked the AG's office what those factors were.

UPDATE: McDaniel called the Times this afternoon to answer our questions. "I’m not offering any predictions on how it’s going to come out," the attorney general said, "but I think that everyone would expect it to be appealed. Avoiding an appeal is very unlikely so the question is whether the state’s lawyer is a participant in that and I think we almost have to be."

I realize that Mr. McDaniel is doing his job, but I still think it stinks. This reprehensible law hurts children and denies same sex couples the right to adopt or foster children who need stable loving homes, but takes away my right to decide who raises my children if something should happen to me and Mrs. H.

This is a blatant attempt by the Arkansas Family Council (an arm of Focus on the Family) to make sure LGBT couples remain second class citizens. Even though the wording was carefully crafted to not specify them (since the previous law that did was struck down), they made no bones about it being to prevent LGBT's from adopting or fostering children during its campaign.

Because Dustin McDaniel is doing his job, as distasteful as it is, and Jerry Cox is once again spreading hate and discontent, I hereby award the Arkansas Family Council the Asshat of the Day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reflection on Yesterday's Gospel Reading...

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
There is nothing I like better than spending a hot summer day next to a cool river or pond fishing. As a young hillbilly, my two brothers and I would take our loaf of stale bread and our little Zebco fishing poles down to the pond in the middle of the mountain we lived on. We could spend hours down there catching and releasing brim and perch until sunset, then retire first to the house for dinner, and then to the tent in the middle of the yard where we spent our summer nights. Such carefree days were always welcome.

I imagine Peter was thinking something similar when he told his fellow disciples, “I’m going fishing,” and took his boat out to see. Fishing was more than just a livelihood to him, it was familiar. And really, who could blame him for looking for something familiar. Already the man whom he considered a great friend and teacher had not only been brutally tortured and murdered by Roman authorities, but now had come back to visit him not once, but twice! If it were me in the same situation, I would be looking for something more familiar too, after I pried myself off the ceiling, of course.

And I think Jesus understood this, too. When he appears to the disciples from the shore, he doesn’t announce himself or yell at them to get back to work. He even helps them haul in the biggest catch they had probably ever seen before whipping them up a hearty breakfast. I can just see Jesus cooking over the fire smiling and muttering to himself, “I did everything but draw them a picture saying I’d be back and they still didn’t get it…” and then nearly rolling on the ground with laughter seeing Peter tripping over himself to get dressed and swim back to the shore when Peter realizes who is waiting for him. He helps keep up the familiarity by having breakfast with them as they probably did many times before.

Let’s take a look at what happens when people move out of that comfort zone, that area of familiarity, and answer the call:

Peter and the disciples answered that call and began spreading the “evangelion” the good news throughout the known world. Today we still see the results of this call.

In 1955, a Montgomery, Alabama woman moved out of the familiar and refused to be moved to the “colored” section of the bus she was riding. That decision helped to spark a civil rights movement that in 2008 saw the first African American elected to the highest office in the United States.

In 1974 11 women stepped out of their comfort zone and answered a call to ordained ministry within the Episcopal Church. 36 years later, we have seen not only the election of women bishops within the Church, but in 2006, the election of the first woman Primate in the Anglican Communion.

More recently, at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco: a life-long atheist and partnered lesbian heard the call and not only walked into the service there, but shared in communion. Just taking that small step out of her comfort zone lead to the establishment of a food pantry that feeds over 900 people daily.

Further forward, in 2003, the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Hampshire heard the call to “tend my lambs” and elected the first openly gay and partnered bishop not only in the Episcopal Church, but the Anglican Communion. Now we have elected a second openly gay partnered bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Episcopal Church has moved to the forefront of a movement of a socially relevant, inclusive gospel seeks to emulate Jesus life and ministry by welcoming all and realizing that no one person is better or worse than another.

And, of course, in 2006, a newly ordained vocational deacon moved out of his own familiar ground in his native Texas and moved into the heart of Razorback Country to plant a new Episcopal Mission. That leap of faith established a counter culture congregation that now boasts of membership between 80 and 100 English speaking parishioners and between 25 and 30 Spanish speaking parishioners and the return of a married former Roman Catholic priest to ordained ministry.

All of these things started with just one person moving out of his or her comfort zone and taking that brave step forward into the unknown. We each hear this same call today in big and small ways. From offering the young LDS missionaries an umbrella when it is raining to even just a smile, a touch or a kind word to a total stranger, Jesus is calling us to move beyond the familiarity of our church pews and our places of work and into a world of possibilities. But, like Peter and the Apostles, and like Paul after the Damascus Road, we have to have the courage to take those first steps. In those first steps, we have the potential to see something truly glorious.

15 Years Ago Today in Oklahoma

It was 15 years ago today that the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in an act of domestic terrorism. Let us today not only remember the lives lost then, but the danger we face today of another tragedy.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love ofpeace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominionmay increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of yourl ove; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Dear Lord, look with pitty upon us, your servants, as we mourn those that were lost in the tragedy in Oklahoma City this day. Give us comfort in our loss and wisdom to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated in the future. We ask this in the name of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with you in the Holy Spirit be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What an Historic Day!!!

For those of you playing the home game, two MAJOR events happened today. The first is all over the news: President Obama has signed an executive order making hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid allow same sex partners visitation rights and power of attourney rights. Second, and probably the biggest news comes out of KARK channel 4:



Excellent paper on same sex marriage!

Geeklet has posted an excellent paper on same sex marriage and why churches SHOULD be on the bandwaggon in support of it. Not to mention she does it in flawless APA format ( which after 18 months of writing, I should know). Well, what are you waiting for... Go Read it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And We're Back with the Asshat Award...

Today's Asshat award goes out to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Gov. Huckabee's most recent case of athlete's tongue comes in a recent interview with a college newspaper. In this interview, he compared allowing gay marriage to "allowing drug use, incest and polygamy". He said:

"You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them."

Further, his opinion on the "Don't ask/don't tell" rule in the military:

I wouldn’t support a repeal if I were commander-in-chief,” he said. “You don’t see foot soldiers out there demanding it. I’m not sure that’s the most important thing we ought to be doing for the military.”“[‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’] touches an extraordinarily small group of people,” Huckabee continued. He dismissed calls to amend the policy as “primarily a posturing point for political purposes,” and an attempt to “force something on the military that they themselves haven’t pushed that hard.

So, Gov. Huckabee... for political posturing and helping to spread a message of hate and discrimination, I dub you Asshat of the Day... Congratulations, Schmuck.

Quotes taken from The Hill .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coach Mike Riley, LtCOL (ret) USMC.

This man was a great teacher and a great friend. He was one of the few at my old high school that believed there was more to me than just a skinny kid who didn't do his homework. He and my dad used to give each other grief (in fun) about the Navy vs Marine Corps. When he heard I had signed up as a Corpsman and was serving with a Marine unit he said, "I guess we both got him." Rest in peace, Coach. Semper Fi!

Posted Apr 09, 2010 @ 12:27 PM

Michael B. Riley, 71, passed away at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at the Freeman West Hospital, Joplin, Mo.

He was born Sept. 2, 1938, the son of William Bernard Riley and Elizabeth Faye (Green) Riley. His parents preceded him in death.

He was a 1957 graduate of the Bishop Ward High School, Kansas City, Kan. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan., where he was a member of the 1961 NAIA National Championship football team.

He married Phyllis L. Redmond on June 17, 1959, in Kansas City, Kan. She survives him. Four sons, Michael L. Riley and wife Antoinette, Texarkana, Texas, Thomas Pat Riley and wife Jane, Fairfax, Va., Scott E. Riley and wife LaDonna, San Antonio, Texas, Kevin R. Riley and wife Michelle, Atlanta, Ga.; a brother, Richard Riley, Rockaway Beach, Ore., and 10 grandchildren also survive him.

He proudly served his country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps from Feb. 12, 1962, to July 1, 1982. He served for two years in Vietnam and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He was also a teacher and coach at Yellville-Summit High School in Yellville, Ark., from 1984 to 1999.

He was a member of the St. Ann's Catholic Church, Carthage, Mo., Rotary International, Knights of Columbus, Coordinator of the Ambassadors of the McCune-Brooks Hospital, a board member of the Broadview Country Club and the Parish Council at St. Ann's Catholic Church.

A visitation will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9, 2010, with Recitation of the Rosary from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the St. Ann's Catholic Church. Fr. Bill Hodgson will officiate.

Inurnment will be in the Park Cemetery, Carthage, MO.

Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Ann's Catholic School, the Fisher House or the Mike Riley Memorial Fund (Scholarship) in care of the Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.

Arrangements are under the direction of Knell Mortuary, Carthage, Mo.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus
Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to
light: Grant that your servant Mike., being raised with him, may
know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal
glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our
understanding: Deal graciously with The Rileys. in their grief.
Surround them with you love, that they may not be
overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your
goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Off Topic...sortof

Today I saw in the news more people clamoring about "Climategate". Now I am not smart enough to know whether or not Global Warming is a hoax. I'll leave that to the scientists. What I do know is that we as Christians are mandated to be proper stewards of the Earth. We are tasked with taking care of her. So doesn't it make sense to use conservation, recycle, lower carbon emissions, etc.?

I've heard some people say, "Why should I worry about the planet? Jesus is coming soon and it will be all over." Here's a question to ponder. If you can't take care of this planet, what makes you think Jesus is going to let you try to take care of his perfect Kingdom in the New Jerusalem? Remember the story of the three servants with the talents? Or the story of the bridesmaids and the oil lamps? What happened to those that didn't properly take care of what was given to them?

Whether we're going to have to wear bikinis in December in Anchorage or not, part of our responsibility is taking care of this world we live on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV)
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income." 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.'

Isn't it funny how even 2000 years ago we see people separating themselves into "us" and "them"? I am good, we are saved...you're bad, you're a *insert race, religion, ect.*... The Kingdom of God isn't about "Us vs Them". When we divide ourselves in this fashion, we tend to "dehumanize" those that are "other". This makes it easier to hate the "other".

Humbling ourselves doesn't mean seeing ourselves as the lowest of the low. It's realizing that we are are neither better nor worse than the person next to us. Paul tells us that no one is righteous; that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".

This Lent, let's try to see Christ in all people, especially those we find difficult or uncomfortable to be around.

As an aside, I wanted to add two things:

First, please pray for the family of Terry Hardesty, who passed away yesterday.

Second: This Friday and Saturday I may be breaking my Facebook fast in order to blog the Arkansas Diocesean Convention. I was elected a delegate this year, so I'll have a ringside seat. It doesn't look like there is anything exciting or controversial this year, but just in case...


Arkansas Hillbilly

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lent 2010

Starting this Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), I will be posting reflections on the BCP lectionary readings instead of my usual rantings. I've found in the past that these reflections helped me in my own journey and thought I would share them with you. I'll be cross posting this on Facebook, since I am only going to post twice a day there as part of my Lent discipline, since school will not allow me to completely unplug from the internet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Please Continue Praying... It's Working!

I just got an e-mail to schedule an interview for a job. A change of venue would do wonders for my soul, as my current workplace is the cause of a great deal of my angst. Please continue to pray for me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Temporary Return:

I had to break the hiatus to share this news...


By Bettina Lehovec Friday, January 29, 2010

BENTONVILLE - Guillermo Castillo began preparing for the priesthood as a teen. He spent three years in a junior seminary and another seven at the seminary of San Jose de la Montana in his native El Salvador.

"I was very happy about my vocation, my calling to serve the community," Castillo said with the help of an interpreter in a recent interview. Yet after his ordination at age 28, doubts began to creep in.The celibacy he had taken for granted as a condition of the priesthood began to seem like an unbearable weight. A desire for the companionship of marriage and family competed with the vows he had made as a Roman Catholic priest."I was suffering very hard," Castillo said, raising his fists to chest height and pressing the knuckles against each other to illustrate the dilemma. "I tried to come to terms with it, but as the years went by it became a vicious cycle - over and over the same feelings, the same situation."

Castillo had joined the staff of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Rogers in 2005, on a three-year loan from his diocese in El Salvador.He took his inner turmoil to Monsignor David LeSieur, who counseled him with compassion, Castillo said.Several months before his threeyear contract would have ended, Castillo returned to El Salvador and renounced his priesthood in the Catholic church. He feared that if he continued, something scandalous would result, he said."It was a difficult decision. (The priesthood) was my vocation ... (but) I didn't want to wound my church or my family."

Castillo returned to Northwest Arkansas in May 2008. His brothers live here, he explained.He thought it would be easier to find work.He began courting Araceli Herrera, a parishioner at St.Vincent de Paul and a widow.Both say their former relationship was strictly pastoral.

Several months after he returned to the area, they married.Araceli has two daughters, Audrey, 12, and Kimberly, 13. On Sunday, she gave birth to a son, Anthony."We are very happy," Guillermo said with a big smile on his face."Before I was alone. It was a big struggle for me. Now I'm veryhappy. I have somebody to share (life) with."

From One Priesthood To Another: On Sunday, Castillo was received into the Episcopal Church, part of an ongoing process toward Episcopal priesthood.If completed, he will be the first Hispanic Episcopal priest in the state.The Right Rev. Larry Benfield, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, said he is "tickled" at the prospect of having Castillo as a priest."There's a burgeoning minority (of Episcopalians) among Latinos in this state," he said, citing a congregation in Newport that has more Latinos than Anglos."There's so much we have to offer in the Anglican Church with our liturgical tradition."

The Rev. Roger Joslin, vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bentonville, which Castillo attends, added that Latinos alienated from the Roman Catholic church because of policy issues such as birth control, divorce and the marriage of priests find a welcoming home in the Episcopal Church.
Such is the case with Castillo, he said."To see him fulfilling his vocation is very exciting to me.Guillermo's a priest. He needs to remain a priest."

Not everyone sees the situation that way. A number of parishioners at St. Vincent de Paul were upset by his decision to leave the Catholic priesthood, Castillo said. Reactions ranged from shock and grief to anger and criticism.Those who view the celibacy of priesthood as divine rather than as a discipline had the hardest time understanding, he said.

The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock was not available for comment by press time.Some who know Castillo support his move to the Episcopal Church."I believe in God, not religion," said Rosa Tenas, a lifelong Catholic who attended the special service at All Saints. "If you believe in the Lord, you can go anywhere. It's the same to the Lord.""I think he made the right decision," said her husband, Danny Tenas, who is not a Catholic. "I'm glad that he's coming to this new church so he can continue to serve the Lord."

Castillo will begin leadingSpanish-language services at All Saints this week. Joslin tried to start a Spanish-language service in 2008, with little response.He speaks Spanish fairly well, but lacks the cultural grounding to reach native Latinos.Having Castillo in the pulpit will bridge that gap, he believes.Joslin will celebrate the Eucharist during the Spanishlanguage services until Castillo is accepted as a priest.

AT A GLANCE ALL SAINTS SERVICES English service: 11 a.m. Sunday Spanish service: 1 p.m. Sunday Location: The church meets at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bentonville, 406 W. Central Information: 426-1561,
www.allsaintsbentonville.org SOURCE: STAFF REPORT Religion, Pages 8 on 01/30/2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Due to personal issues, Hillbilly Musings will be closing for a few months. Keep me in your prayers.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I've been reading a lot in recent months about who is to blame for our economic woes. Democrats blame Republicans, Republicans blame Democrats, but no one wants to blame the real source of the problem... us. That's right, you and me. We have been encouraged as a nation to spend beyond our means to the point that spending beyond what we make is the basis of our economy. The real fix, as painful as it will be for everyone, is to stop spending more than you make.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update on Mrs. H

Thanks to everyone that put Mrs. H in their prayers. Just wanted to let you know she is doing much better. It was a combination of post partem depression, lack of sleep and cabin fever from the nasty bit of weather.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still Don't Think Religion is a Smokescreen?

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court struck down laws that limit corporate support of political candidates. This, in effect gives corporations the same rights as individual citizens. While we were all busy arguing about who gets to marry, where you can display the 10 commandments, George and Dick set the wheels in motion to silence the voice of the individual voter. This is why he appointed Scalia and company. It wasn't so that America could move more toward Conservative Christian values. It was so corporations could once again rule as they did before FDR. Congratulations Christian Right, you have been had.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Response from CBN

I am ashamed to admit it, but I sent a nastygram to CBN. Nothing too evil... well, here's what I said:

"The 700 Club - Bring It On: Moral, Social, and Ethical Issues ------------------------------------------------------------ Subject: Forgiveness I am asking God to help me to forgive you for your complete lack of compassion in the wake of the disaster in Haiti. How dare you use this in order to grab press time by spouting garbage that only benefits your noteriety. I am offended in the worst way. It was ministers like you who drove me away from the love of Christ for so long. I pray that I am able to someday offer you the same forgiveness that Jesus has. May God have mercy on you."

Short, bitter and to the point I thought. I got a response today from Elane at CBN:

"Thank you for contacting CBN. We appreciate this opportunity to serve you.

On the January 13, 2009, edition of The 700 Club, our CBN News department showed a feature news story about the devastation and suffering resulting from the earthquake in Haiti. After the news story, Dr. Pat Robertson interviewed Bill Horan, President of Operation Blessing International (an affiliate organization of CBN) about its efforts to bring aid and relief to the people of Haiti. Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti's history (see an actual transcript below). His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed.

Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for the people there. Operation Blessing has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and has launched a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are working to relieve the suffering."

She goes on to add a complete transcript of the now infamous video clip, which I will not burden you with here. And, knowing me, I couldn't just let this go unanswered:


I usually would let the matter rest after venting my frustration, but I fear your response has lead me to do otherwise. I realize that Mr. Robertson did not say that the earthquake in Haiti was God's wrath. However, was there a reason that this alleged pact with the Devil needed to be mentioned at all? It can not be proven that this event actually happened and mentioning it does not help in the relief efforts of a nation that has already suffered greatly and now suffers even more. So why say it? These words do not build up the people of Haiti or preach the Gospel. They only portray Haitians as "devil worshipers" and primitives, which does nothing to further relief efforts, promote healing or solace the wounded and grieving.

No amount of aid work can heal what damage harmful words coming from a man of influence bring about. Yes, we need to pray for the people of Haiti. Yes we need to help them in any way we can. But we do not need to look down on them, or cause others to do the same. We should pray for them as fellow human beings and inheriters of the same Kingdom of God that we claim membership to.

I still believe that this was an ill thought out attempt by Dr. Robertson to grab headlines in the press. There is no other reason I can see why this needed to be mentioned at all, except to get attention. I would like to hear Mr. Robertson officially appologise to the people of Haiti for what he said, and I continue to pray that compassion will win the day in this.

Dave Adkins

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Has it been 3 years?

Wow. About 3 years ago, Fr. Roger first asked me to be on the "unofficial" Vestry for All Saints. Since we were a mission station at the time and just barely out of meeting at Washington Jr High Auditorium, we couldn't have a "real" vestry. A few months later, we were voted on as official vestry, once our mission status was approved by convention. Now, three years later, we have purchased land to build a new church building, and All Saints has become a thriving community and a beacon of light to all disenfranchised. Man, woman, black, white, brown, gay, straight, all have been welcomed into our midst, and all are welcome to full community.

It's been a great three years. Today is our annual church meeting, and my term on the original vestry is coming to an end. It's sort of bitter sweet. It will be nice to get some time back in my busy schedule, but at the same time I'll definitely miss it. Jeanne, Debbie, Chris, James, Joe, Brenda, Jolene, and Cindy have all been great, and it's been an honor serving All Saints in its beginnings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson Stoops to a New Low...

Mr. Robinson wins today's Asshat Award for being an uncaring prick. Here is a direct quote courtesy CBS News from this Pseudo-Christian:
"They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another," Robertson said.
Who in the heck does this guy think he is?! Hello, Jerkwad, people are dead and dying here and you have the GALL to say this crap?! And my dad was mad when Spong called this guy what he is, a money grubbing, publicity craving, self serving jackass.

So Mr. Pat Robertson, you win the prize for the day... may God help me forgive you for being a jerk.

Pray for Haiti

Please pray for those in Port-au-Prince and beyond. Red Cross estimates put the death toll in the hundreds of thousands.

You can use the Charity Navigator to find a charity you wish to use to donate money or simply follow this link to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund where you will be able to ear mark the donation specifically to the Hatian relief effort.

Gracious God: We lift up the people of Haiti to you. Send them aid and comfort in their time of need. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prayer request...

Mrs. H. is having a rough time right now. If you all could please pray for her I would appreciate it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Slant on the Faith vs Works Debate

I just finished reading an interesting lecture by James D. G. Dunn called "The New Perspective on Paul". It lays out some interesting ideas that further a line of thought I have been following for some time. Mr. Dunn's theory is that because we have been reading Paul's letters (Romans in particular) through the lens of the Protestant Reformation we may have been reading him wrong. I know, the idea sounds crazy, but once the idea is laid out in full, it does make a lot of sense. Let me explain.

Since Luther's interpretation of "justification by faith", we have looked at our salvation and justification to be enough; that it was all we needed for God's grace to be extended to us. Where we start to go askew, according to Dunn, is when we talk to Jewish scholars and modern historians we find that the view of Judaism that Paul seems to be talking about doesn't match the Judaism that seems to have actually existed at the time. So where does that leave us, especially knowing that Paul was a member of the Pharisees before his conversion, and should know what his own people believe.

What if Paul is not talking about works in general, but about specific works related to the Jewish faith and nationality: circumcision, observing the Sabbath, and the purity codes? What if the argument isn't so much about belief in Jesus vs doing what is right but rather about who Grace is extended to? Let's dig a little deeper.

Even today, in order for a man to be Jewish there are certain rituals that he must go through. If we look at Paul's argument through this lens, something different emerges. Paul isn't so much arguing against works, as expanding the idea of God's Grace beyond the Jewish nationality. Circumcision, following the purity codes and observing the Sabbath were physical parts of being in the covenant with God. It was a matter not just of religious identity, but of national identity as well. If we apply the faith/works argument with this in mind, it isn't that Paul is touting faith over good works, but rather placing faith in Christ as the Messiah as the new Jewish litmus test. This would expand Grace beyond the Jewish nation and into the world of the Gentiles.

It also explains the tone within the letter of James. James, rather than trying to refute Paul completely, is trying to explain that doing good works are still necessary. For me it helps to reconcile James 2 with Galatians 5 and Romans 10.

I encourage you to read the lecture that sparked this posting. It definitely gives some food for thought.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...

1. Post more often when possible.
2. Lose at least 2 inches off the waistline.
3. Stay off Facebook so much...

So far I've failed #3.