Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The update

I finished all the work for my masters. So I'm now unemployed and in debt, but at least I'm leaving for Venezuela in a few days (for about 3 weeks).

May the peace, love, joy and hope of Christ's birth be with you this day, and always.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Twitter comes of age with fast reports from the ground

From The Guardian:

From the moment the first shots were fired, the internet provided a kaleidoscopic view of events in Mumbai. Using blogs and file-sharing sites, those caught up in the mayhem rapidly provided accounts from the ground as well as links to the best news reports appearing on the web.

One rich source of information was Twitter, which provides text-message-length updates. Its Mumbai thread provided a stream of snippets, not all accurate, from observers on the ground, with details of casualties, sieges, gunfights, and even the suspected names of terrorists.

In many cases, Twitter updated developments faster than many TV networks or newspaper websites. The site's contributors also questioned the veracity of some news reports, pointing out contradictions and errors. When Indian reporters announced that the siege at the Taj hotel was over, for example, Twitter contended that gunfights were continuing.

Click to read it all

Why I left Grace-St. Paul's

{edit: I know that she is entitled to change things, and writing this has already helped begin healing}

I remember when I
fell in love the with Episcopal Church.

Grace-St. Paul's was not the first church I had ever attended: I had gone to church with friends many times in the past.

But I remember going to church Christmas Eve and being surrounded by the warm glow of candle light. There was beauty, solemnity, and yet a strong, joyful feeling of family in the air. There were copes and a shiny cross, excited children, and a time to kneel in front of the crèche, to the newly born Jesus. There was beautiful music, and feeling of acknowledgement that this had been done for over 1000 years and in this way for hundreds.

I had also found a place were people cared about the world and each other. Where Sunday School taught about unconditional love, and you were encouraged to question and try to make sense of things. I found an extended family which I had never had before.

Over the years I've interned, preached at, and attended over 15 Episcopal churches - at least 7 more than twice, but as people kept moving and the crowd changed, in the end it was the worship the kept me coming back to GraSP. It was what I could best describe as "upper broad." It embraced the beauty and meditation of a sort of traditional worship without being high church for high church sake (although we could do high church when we wanted too). The liturgy was both neat and uncluttered while still embracing a prayerbook and music driven service (with decent preaching). There was a respect and reverence of the sacraments. Not all the services were the same, and the parish was very progressive without being hypocritical. It was also the highest thing in the area. And it is what can calm me down enough to stop and worship. It's what worked for me.

I came back from Lambeth with my already shaky faith in fragments. While my own theodicy issues had left me angry at God, after Lambeth I was simply in pieces. After enduring weeks of mediocre worship and feeling a bit lost in the crowd, I was excited to come home to GraSP.

Mind you, I knew we had a new priest (an interim). I was more excited that anyone. I knew the parish needed new blood and new ideas. I was hoping to find new flavor. What I found was a new dish.

Within two weeks the worship was completely changed. Not only was it lower, but it was sloppy. It was the reasons why I had chosen not to go to some of those other parishes. I find saying page numbers (or pausing after them) a distraction. It is a break in the worship experience for me. Pages are in the bulletin. I actually did like some of the changes she made, but when she decided to consecrate three chalices at once (rather than one and a cruet as the prayer books rubrics state) I wasn't upset at the act, so much as that being something that separates us from what the other Episcopal Churches are doing... the prayer book is what we have in common... Common Prayer.

When I spoke to her about it she said I should "try new things." I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I had tried new things. I started out Jewish. I kept coming back because this was how I best worshipped God. She never asked me what my experiences were. She assumed that because I was young I didn't have any. And now, she was telling me that my already shattered faith was wrong. That the way that I can worship God isn't correct.

And she told a friend of mine the same thing, that he wouldn't like GraSP anymore - we were both the two young adults in the parish who were interested in ordained ministry. An interesting move for someone claiming to be interested in Christian education and formation.

I don't feel like I can go back. Not because of the changes in worship, but because I feel unwelcome. Every time I think of that church I still get angry... and hurt. Before I left I tried to contact a few Vestry members who I felt like I could talk to, but no one responded.

When I left I told a few people that it was just too far to commute. And this was true. I found a parish near my university that I really like. It is a nice broad church with a diverse population and a great music program. When I want Anglo-catholic I have friends who like going to St. Clems, Philadelphia and St. Thomas, 5th Ave, and the rest of the time I have a new parish family where I'm trying to find a place.

But it still hurts. I didn't want to start a scene when I left. I didn't tell anyone that I was moving my membership I just dropped off of a few lists and tried to find replacements. I rather abruptly had my letter of transfer sent. I never heard from the interim at GraSP. Not ever. I knew she was upset with some thing I said and she snapped at me on the altar, or any other time. I never heard from anyone really. I had thought they found a new youth group leader. She never contacted me that they didn't. I heard through the grapevine that she was wondering if there was a list of youth group members. She never asked me.

I suppose I can't quite keep quiet any more. I can't pretend that it isn't eating away at me and keeping me awake at nights months later. That it still doesn't make me cry, that I lost a family, and I don't feel like I can go back... at least not until there is a new priest. That my faith still isn't in pieces.

I've been told that people there like her now. That she is open to things. And that the parish might want to take things in new directions. But this is my experience. And I am writing this for my own healing. Take it as you will.