Friday, February 29, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 21

Day 21 - Only run your washing machine when you have a full load.

On this 21st weekday of Lent we come to the second half of our 40 days in the wilderness. We've learned and are continuing to learn we can take steps, both practical and spiritual, to reduce our own individual carbon footprints and so act as better stewards of the Earth that God has entrusted to our care. Like most of not all good Lenten disciplines, we are asked to look inward in order to strengthen our outward faith. The three disciplines that we are called to in the Lenten Bidding at Ash Wednesday are fasting, prayer, and alms-giving. The first two are inward, and the third is explicitly outward. But notice that all of these are about our own selves. They aren't directed at other people; and if you read the Ash Wednesday Litany of Penance you see that we are asked to collectively and individually examine what we have done or not done to be Christ's body in the world. Not anyone else, but ourselves.

I'm reminded of all this because of an article in The Atlantic that has just been published. It's called "God's Country" and it's a report on how Christians and Muslims are interacting with each other in Nigeria. It has both poignant moments of reconciliation, as well as very disturbing accounts of violence. Fr. Jake has first reported on it and what was reported that Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, said and perhaps did in response to a massacre first perpetrated by Muslims in a certain town in Nigeria called Yelwa. Fr. Jake gets a lot of traffic and his commenters are very vocal. I don't normally post about matters in the worldwide Anglican Communion because Jake and others do it so well already. But as I read the comments on this piece earlier this morning, I felt called to comment. Here's what I said:

On this Lenten Friday, I find myself wondering. ++Akinola will surely have to face his God at some point. I just read the article and it *is* disturbing., to say the least. But my comment is at least #62. Most of the prior ones seem to be condemning ++Akinola and/or ++Rowan for not investigating or something. But my question is, how am I , how are *we*, implicated in this? What is *my* sin, what is *our* sin, that needs to be confessed? ++Akinola will meet his Maker, and I'm confident that God's justice will eventually prevail. I can't do anything about that one way or another. But I can examine my own heart. What I see there is some smug complacency on my part. I don't know about anybody else, but reading about the violence *on both sides* is eye-opening and heart-rending for me. I have no answers, only questions and only prayer, at this moment.

I encourage you to read all the comments and the original article itself. Draw your own conclusions. But I cannot do anything really about the sins of another. That, as I said, is up to God. I can only examine my own heart and mind and see where I have fallen short, where I am separated from God and from others and from the created order and from my own inward self. It seems to me that's what Lent is and has to be about. When there is injustice in the world, surely we must call attention to it and surely we must struggle against it. When murder is done in the name of Christ, sure that's wrong. At the same time, it's so easy on my part to say, "How horrible - what a terrible thing" and neglect the inward inquiry into where I am sinning as well. that's what I can do something about. That's what observing a holy Lent is all about. Oddly enough, in Lent it is all about me! And it is for each of us. That's what I, what all of us, have to be about as we prepare for the great celebration to come.

Grant us, O Lord our Strength, a true love of your holy Name; so that, trusting in your grace, we may fear no earthly evil, nor fix our hearts on earthly goods, but may rejoice in your full salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love is Never Having to Say You're Sorry...

So I've always wanted to watch Love Story and have never seen it. I caught it on cable this evening. This is the movie with the line "Love never means having to say your sorry." I'm not sure I believe that. We can't help but sometimes hurt the ones we love, even though we try hardest not to. I was gonna blog about this whole idea, but then I caught the line, "Just pretend everything is normal."

(Spoiler alert!)

This is after the doctor tells Oliver (but not his wife) that she's dying of some disease and he asks, "What can I do?" That's when the doctor says, "Just treat everything as normal."

I thought about that for one second. Now maybe I'm totally wrong. But I've taught, and I personally believe, that it's better to tell it like it is than to beat around the bush about hard things in life. I admit I've not hard too many hard things - not like this movie and certainly not like people I've had the privilege to know or come in contact with - but it seems to me that being truthful, without being unnecessarily blunt or unfeeling, is important, vitally important.

Perhaps I'm wrong in this. I'd be pleased to be corrected. Is it better for people not to know what's going on?


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 20

Day 20 - Compost. Put the nutrients from food waste back into the soil – not into a methane-emitting landfill.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City noted in an op-ed piece today that 65% of Americans live in cities. Now I've lived in three Midwestern cities (Toledo, Columbus, and Indianapolis) and two Northeast ones, New York and Bayonne. The population of New York City exceeds the combined populations of all the other cities I've lived in. And I would venture to guess that more than half of all NYC residents have no access to enough open space outside to start even a small compost pile. I could have done it in Toledo, in Indianapolis, and in Bayonne, but not in Columbus, as I lived in apartments or condos my whole time there, without gardens or yards. And of course not in New York either. (I will be able to do it in Vernon.) So I recognize this as a good thing to do, but there needs to be some serious work on how to do it in highly urban environments. The Wikipedia article on composting is Eurocentric and talks about how the EU itself has mandated industrial composting, which helps a lot. But even in the UK, where the Carbon Fast originates, I wonder how many residents can actually do this.

It sounds like I am being less than supportive here. Maybe I am, at least on today's activity. Others may have a different take. But it seems to me that activities devoted to reducing one's carbon footprint should be actually doable by most folks. Maybe there's just far more available open space in the UK than in some of the US urban areas.

I wonder if there are micro-composting ideas available? [Pause while goggling.....] OK, there's this:

If, like the Chinese, you are challenged for space, don't despair. You can compost on a spot as small as a windowsill, and use the finished product on your houseplants. On the following pages you can learn about this and other ways to "micro-compost."

The book referred to is here and is published by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It's apt that the BBG has a book that talks about micro-composting in what is, if it were separate, the 4th largest city in the US.

Keep watch over your Church, O Lord, with your unfailing love; and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


PS - I am getting very frustrated with Blogger's inability to keep line formatting consistent. Can anyone help? Please?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 19

Day 19 - Grace Maglasey and her husband Andrew struggle to grow enough food because their village in Malawi is caught in a cycle of floods and droughts. Join in with Grace's prayer today: "We pray that those of us who farm should harvest a lot of food so that this year we will not have hunger. In the name of Jesus, Amen."

There's not much more that can be said than that all farmers, especially those growing their own food to eat, can grow enough this season. I'm reminded that hunger is not just a problem in Africa. It's a problem right here in the US as well. When I was a seminarian I worked at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan. They run the Episcopal Church's largest soup kitchen, the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. Five days a week, from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM, any and all who come are served a hot 2000-calorie meal, as much as they can eat. Promptly at at the beginning of service every morning, you can hear from the walkie-talkies that the staff carry:

Ready on the gate?
The reply comes back:
Ready on the gate!
Ready on the door?...Ready on the door!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s show time. Dinner is served. Thanks be to God!

They haven't missed a scheduled day since 1973, and according to their annual report served an average of nearly 1100 meals a day in 2006.

What is truly awe-inspiring to me is that they do this right in the nave of the church! The old church building burned in the early 80's, and when they rebuilt it they put in chairs as opposed to pews. So after church on Sunday, they stack the chairs up and pull out the round tables for the soup kitchen guests. (The picture shows a view from the gallery, looking toward the Altar.) Those who come to eat can do so in the company of some very nice stained glass windows of the Acts of the Apostles looking down at them. I think it's absolutely stunning that on Sundays the Community gathers to Eat, and then feeds others in that very same space on the other days of the week. It's amazing, and I'm very glad I was able to experience both aspects of the ministry at 9th Avenue and 28th St in Manhattan. My eyes and my heart were opened by what I saw and experienced. To mix a metaphor, hunger is alive and well right in the midst of the richest city in the world.

Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Signs of the Future?

It took me bit to figure it out, but it's kind of amusing in an odd sort of way (click on images to enlarge):

Rather late for Christmas, but even so, it's about dogs, so it's always good:

Recently, The New Yorker ran a contest to desgin some new looks for their resident dandy, Eustace Tilley. The finalists were on their website. Here are two of my favorites.

I'm a huge fan of both regression and self-reference. This one has both:

And I love the NY subway, so this one was adorable too. (To get the reference, have a look at the NYC subway map.)


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 18

Day 18: Cut the air miles. Don't consume any food that you know has been imported by plane (apart from Fairtrade products).

This is a hard one, and could also be another UK thing. Given its size, there is a lot of food in the US that is presumably shipped by air, although I know that trucks are used a great deal too. As far as I know, there is no way to tell this in the US. I know in some stores there has been an effort to get more locally grown produce, etc., and in New Jersey, that means tomatoes, believe it or not.

If you are in the UK, of course, you can go to the Fairtrade site above for more information. Fairtrade is more about justice and sustainability, than necessarily about food traveling long distance. According to their FAQ:

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

They have more than 3,000 products under the Fairtrade label, and in 2006, that did 290 million pounds UK in business, or more than half a billion US dollars. I don't recall seeing much in the US on this sort of thing, but I freely admit that, before I began the Carbon Fast, I have been woefully ignorant of all this.

So how to eat as locally as possible? The Daily Mitzvah blogged yesterday about trying to eat locally (they're on a slightly different Carbon Fast schedule than is The Proper of the Day) and it isn't easy. It means looking at labels and checking websites and stuff. As I contemplate my own breakfast shortly, I have to admit that the cereal and milk I'm going to eat isn't very local. the milk is....[going to go check]...processed in Maryland and the cereal God-knows-where.

Is there automatically a net benefit by buying locally? It all goes back to the cost-vs-risk equation. The fact that I can get fresh dill in February to make my grandmother's dill dip for an Oscar get-together is a wonderful thing. Minor, but pleasing. That dill probably came from California. Dill is not available until about June here in the Northeast if grown locally. So my buying that bunch of dill helped a farmer or conglomerate somewhere, and the shipping and distribution firms that got it to me, and of course the grocery store I bought it from. Is it a question of buying now and paying later? The economist in me wonders what the net benefit is, or even if it can be quantified.

And more than that. I can contemplate a scenario where, even if I just consider perhaps a hundred miles or so around the New York metro area, that our winter diet would be far more limited:
  • Dairy, yes. Lots of dairy farms in the upper Hudson valley. Cheeses I assume so also, but limited. I know of New York cheddar, and so I guess there could be others as well.
  • Meats: Hmmm. I really don't know. Chicken is a possibility; but I'm not aware of much else. Maybe lots more frozen stuff, but of course that takes energy too. To my knowledge, there are no local beef herds. Would we actually want to reintroduce them?
  • Fresh bread: I assume so, because wheat, etc., can be stored until it's needed. Are there any commercial bakeries in the area? I don't know.
  • Pasta: Sure. it can be dried. And canned sauces too, which is good.
  • Deli stuff: sure, just watch the shelf life of the meats.
  • Fruits and veggies: very little. This is the big downside of this area. Lots can grow here, but the growing season is shorter. Most of our fruits and vegetables come from the salad bowl states or even overseas, especially in winter. Lots of root vegetables, I guess - potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets would be back on the menus of the area.
Bottom line: a mixed bag. It would be interesting to do a longer experiment to see if someone can actually eat locally for say, a month, or longer.

So today's Carbon Fast activity definitely has me thinking. And, as an Anglican, I do believe that's a good thing! Of course, one should never stop thinking, but one should also start doing as well.

Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom you have given a fervent desire to pray, may, by your mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and
adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Monday, February 25, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 17

Day 17 (The Third Monday of Lent, also St. Matthias this year): Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need.

This is another one more suited to the UK; I'm not sure how many Americans regularly use a tea kettle. But it's good advice anyway; watch what you are using as you prepare your food and drink. can you use less water, less gas, less whatever?

I don't drink much tea at all, so I use a tea kettle perhaps once or twice a month. I can't think of any other ideas at the moment. Anyone?

Look upon the heart-felt desires of your humble servants, Almighty God, and stretch forth the right hand of your majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Proper of the Day: St. Matthias the Apostle

Today the Church celebrates with a Major Feast the life and ministry of St. Matthias, the successor to Judas Iscariot. We don’t know a whole lot about Matthias. He was, according to the book of Acts, selected by lot after the eleven apostles nominated him and another disciple named Joseph Barsabbas. Nothing more is ever said of either Joseph or Matthias in the New Testament. There is some interesting if probably apocryphal information at the Patron Saints Index, particularly how he died and where he preached. (The site does not say where it gets their information.) I’m not exactly sure what good it was that Matthias was named an Apostle, given his otherwise complete anonymity, but there it is. And I have to wonder what Joseph B. thought of the whole proceeding. Was he upset he wasn’t selected? After all, both had been followers of Jesus “beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us.” It’s speculated that Joseph (also named Justus acc. to the Anchor Bible Dictionary) was one of the seventy that Jesus sent out in Luke’s Gospel. But again, we know nothing else of him.

It’s rather a good thing, I think, that we don’t follow this model of discernment when selecting suitable candidates for ordained ministry. The process is stressful enough as it is, but to get nearly to the end and to be told that you are perfectly suitable in all respects for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, but that there are too many candidates and the Commission on Ministry is going to throw dice to determine who to recommend to the Bishop, and what number would you like? That would be horrible!

Check out the lessons appointed in the Office for today (scroll down a bit until you those for Matthias). Except for the first lesson at Morning Prayer, they seem a little weird to me. The Second lesson at MP seems to be a slam on Judas Iscariot, given its context as appointed for this feast, but the passage itself is not written to denigrate Judas specifically at all. (It is, however, a great basis for all sorts of horror movies, such as the Damien series.) And both Evening Prayer lessons have to do with either Samuel or Paul telling audiences that they’ve been faithful and prudent and that nothing can be held against them. Again, this is interesting enough in the contexts of the books the passages are drawn from, but I really don’t see the connection to Matthias at all. And the lessons for Matthias from the 1928 edition of the BCP if anything, are even more bizarre. Anyone have any ideas?

Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Proper of the Day: The Third Sunday in Lent

Today we continue to hear from the Gospel of John, this time the complete story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. There's so much packed in here I hardly know where to begin. So I won't. Instead, I offer my very first public sermon, offered on this day 6 years ago. A fellow seminarian and I were invited to co-lead Morning Prayer at a little parish on the outskirts of the Diocese of Indianapolis. We flipped a coin, and Greg (now Rector of Ascension Episcopal Church in Cranston, RI) chose to be Officiant, so I preached. Here's what I offered. Comments as always, are welcome:

St. Stephens Elwood, IN
Third Sunday in Lent 2002
Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42
R. F. Solon, Jr.

I want to thank you for asking Greg and me to worship with you today. It’s a great honor and privilege.

May these words be in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have you ever been to Massah? How about Meribah? Maybe you think you haven’t – after all, according to the Book of Exodus they are in the wilderness of Zin, somewhere in the Sinai peninsula. Any maybe these places didn’t really exist in real geography.

But I think they did exist, and do exist even today. “Massah” means “testing,” and “Meribah” means contention. Our Psalm today, the very familiar Venite, the traditional Morning Prayer psalm, is one of those psalms that contains reference to names and places we often don’t otherwise know. Massah and Meribah are examples of those. We read, “Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tempted me and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” At Massah, the Israelites whined to God that they had no water, and they got on Moses’ case to get some. The Exodus version says that Moses gave them what-for for testing God, but prayed on their behalf anyway. God answered Moses, and arranged for water to come out of the rock when Moses struck it with the holy staff that was used during the 10 Plagues.

But there’s another version of this episode, in the Book of Numbers. In that version, Moses and Aaron his brother don’t come across nearly so virtuous. In that version, Moses and Aaron strike the rock but don’t call on God’s name as they do – they take the glory for themselves. Water still came out of the rock, because God is merciful and cares for his people. But afterwards, God tells Moses and Aaron that they will not see the Promised Land because they, too, tested God. So the Psalm refers to not only to the testing of God by the Israelites, but also by Moses and Aaron.

The Israelites aren’t the only ones testing God. At Sychar, the Samaritan woman does as well. In her conversation with Jesus, she challenges him about who he is. She is eventually persuaded when Jesus reveals that he knows facts about her past that he couldn’t have otherwise known if he weren’t who he said he is - that is, the living water, the one who, as the Samaritan women says, proclaims all things to us. Both the Israelites at Massah and the Samaritan women at Sychar tested God, and it took a miracle to overcome their resistance and show them the truth of God’s love. At Massah, it was the water coming from the rock, and at Sychar, it was Jesus’ knowledge about the woman’s past. In both cases, they couldn’t understand or accept what God was giving them, real water at Massah, and the new living water in Christ Jesus at Sychar.

And God continues to give us good things today. St. Paul lays it out to the Romans perfectly when he says, “We even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” I think the key point here is that Paul talks about reconciliation with God in the past tense. It’s already happened. It’s a done deal. But just to be sure, I checked several other versions as well. Every single one renders this verse in the past tense, and one of them talks about how we “already’ have received reconciliation. So it’s already done, accomplished, completed. Nothing more needs to be done to reconcile us to God our Father, except what Jesus has already accomplished.

It’s now the third week of Lent – we’re just about half-way through. Lent is the season of repentance and penitence and preparation for the renewal and rebirth of the Resurrection. Part of the point of Lent is that we are reminded that, to get to the new, something old must pass away. And we already know the new – the reconciliation to God and each other that we have in the Resurrection that we are now getting ready for. But to get to the new, we have to deal with the old. It seems to me the key is the verse, “Do not harden your hearts.” The absolute truth of the Gospel is that we are indeed reconciled to God the Father in Jesus Christ. It’s a done deal – our sins are already forgiven! Forgiveness, one writer has written, is the invitation to a future not dictated by past or experience. And that requires a conscious letting go and putting away of that past, that is, our past sins. It can be really hard to accept God’s forgiveness if we have not forgiven ourselves. But that’s exactly what we are called to do – to accept God’s forgiveness, which is already a done deal, by confronting and moving past our own sinful past. That’s a big part of what Lent is all about. We are called to unharden our hearts toward ourselves so we can let in the renewal and rebirth of the Resurrection in our own lives. Lent is about the gradual letting go of our sins and the unhardening of our hearts, so we will be ready, come Easter, to let in the healing power of the Resurrection.

At Massah and at Sychar, it took a miracle for the Israelites and the Samaritan woman to see the new thing God was doing for them, to get them to let go – to unharden their hearts. We already have our miracle – our reconciliation to God in Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection. Remember, it’s a done deal – it already happened. God has already reconciled us to him. All we have to do is accept it.

So - let us not harden our hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when our ancestors tested God.


Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tragic - and Unacceptable

Boy's Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town

(NYT, 2/23/08)

OXNARD, Calif. — Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church here on Friday to remember an eighth-grade boy who was shot to death inside a junior high school computer lab by a fellow student in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex,” the Rev. Dan Birchfield of Westminster Presbyterian Church told the crowd as he stood in front of a large photograph of the victim. “Larry was a masterpiece.”

Pastor Birchfield has it right. All people are created by God and are wonderfully made, in the words of Psalm 139. All of us are imago Dei, in the image of God Himself. No one deserves death or indeed any kind of ostracism because he or she is different or perceived to be different. We declare that we will "respect the dignity of every human being" every time we renew our Baptismal promises. We dare not forget this, and all Christians should speak out agains such bigotry.

There is no room for hate in God's economy.




Saturday Funnies

Apropos to The Carbon Fast for Lent. Who says saving the world can't be funny? (Click on any image to enlarge)

OK, this one may be funny, but I didn't get it. To me, "HRC" is the Human Rights Campaign, and I don't recall any news about them recently. Can anyone clue me in? Update: Never mind! I actually had to look it up in wikipedia, but HRC can also mean Hillary Rodham Clinton. Duh!

And now that I am about to move to a new parish - with a vicarage, no less, I'm going to have to scout around until I find the secret entrances (hat tip to Scott Gunn, courtesy of
And finally, one more relative to the Carbon Fast:



A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 16

Day 16: Switch off lights as you leave the room.

When I was growing up, my mom always reminded me to do that, and I had gotten in the habit. I think I lost that habit when I became single and was rattling around in a big house, just me and the dog. I suppose it felt safer, warmer, less empty, to have some lights on. I didn't get it much thought then, as I was thinking about other things.

I'm going to be moving to a very nice 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 2-story Victorian house that St. Thomas' is providing as the vicarage. The congregation has done an amazing amount of work on it, including all new windows (courtesy of the Diocese of Newark), a complete new kitchen, new very nice carpeting upstairs, and repaired hardwood floors downstairs, which I just love. Now Vernon and the parish complex is rural or semi-rural, and so I may well feel very much alone again. I'll have to conscientiously think about the lights here too. The vicarage is almost as big as my old home in Indianapolis, and I won't be enfolded in the embrace of a city, which is what I'm used to.

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Thoughts on The Price Is Right 2008 Edition

So I'm watching The Price Is Right in prime time with new host Drew Carey. Most everything on the show is pretty much the same except for the host and the models - can't call them Barker's Beauties anymore. But it occurred to me - in 2008, why do the models have to be women? Why can't we have some handsome guy models on the show too?

I'm just sayin'


The Worst is Yet to Come?

From the front page of today's New York Times:

Read it all here. This could affect me personally, so it's disturbing, not only because I do think the government should be involved when a major market like housing fails, to ensure social stability and cohesion. Owning one's own home has been a bedrock policy of successive administrations since WWII, and rightly so. Now the Administration says it isn't interested in helping out consumers who are underwater. They made bad choices, now they have to live with it, supposedly goes the thinking. But when so many people are or are going to be affected, I wonder if principle must give way to practicality. I doubt we can afford the social cost of potentially millions of people affected in this way. Believe it or not, I do tend to be a free-marketer; the housing market has failed from extra-market forces and because the market players - consumers, mostly - did not have full information to participate rationally in the market, which is a basic requirement for effective markets.

I also wonder if I may have to do something if my own house in Indianapolis has to go on the market.


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 15

Day 15: Snub plastic bags. Get into the habit of taking your rucksack (or backpack, etc.) to the supermarket or go retro with a cart. Ask your supermarket to remove unnecessary packaging.

Turns out there are all sorts of biodegradable things you can get to help with this. Emily of The Lost Albatross posted some links over at Daily Mitzvah about biodegradable poop bags and shopping/kitchen bags. She also pointed out that there are companies working on "bioplastics" that are not based on fossil fuels. Check them all out.

I myself am not very good with much of this. More reflections later, but for me, the mere acting of doing a daily entry about each of the days of the Carbon Fast have opened my eyes in a lot of different ways. Seems to me the hysteria from the Right about A) the science is wrong or at least exaggerated; or B) it would cost too much to do anyway, is just overblown. I think it's more selfishness: people will use any excuse simply to not change their lifestyle. I guess it's kind of like sitting in poop. Even if you know that after a while it will stink and could even kill you because of infection and all that, they won't change because for the moment it's warm and even comfortable. There. That's my own contribution to exageration and hyperbole on this topic. And the worst of it is, I'm one of those people! I am doing a tererible job of reducing my carbon footprint. And I accept the science (what's not to accept?) and am persuaded by the dangers.

And then I am reminded about what's perhaps equally or even more important as we continue to debate this as a global society:

Grant, O Lord, that as your Son Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those who wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive your forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Please Rejoice with Me!


Notice anything different about the sidebar? The link to my resume is missing. Good news at last. After a long search, I’ve just accepted a call as Vicar of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Vernon, New Jersey. My first Sunday is March 9. Vernon is in Northwest New Jersey, in Sussex County. We are about 140 families worshipping in two services in a relatively new church and parish hall. We still have our first parish building, a little clapboard Gothic chapel that is still consecrated. (You can see the front of the Chapel and the back of the Church to the right.) Our mission statement is:

Mission Statement

We are a growing church family that reaches
into and beyond the community.
We have a relaxed and supportive environment,
steeped in Christian tradition.
We value new opportunities to enrich the minds
and souls of all who come here.

You can read more about St. Thomas's as the parish profile from this just-concluded search is still up on our website.

There will be a Celebration of New Ministry sometime in late spring. Once that’s scheduled, I’ll let you know!

I will continue my Lenten discipline of blogging about the Carbon Fast for Lent on a daily basis, and I also intend to report on my move and how that's going. First step: get quotes from movers. New Jerseyans in particular: any movers to recommend or avoid?


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 14

Today is is Thursday in the Second Week of Lent, and that makes it Day 14 in the Carbon Fast for Lent. Today's activity:

Day 14: Take a shower instead of a bath: you'll heat less water.

Well, I always take a shower anyway, and the head in my shower is one of those low-water-density ones that still spray a nice spray. But since this is the UK version, I guess baths are something the English like to do. I suspect most Americans take showers, I don't know. I haven't regularly taken a bath in a very long time.

I'm reminded of those huge ceiling mounted shower heads in some hotels - it's like standing in very heavy warm rain. It's quite nice, but it sure uses a lot fo water. And then I'm reminded of the fountains on the Las Vegas Strip - they are amazing but I cannot help but wincing that they are running fountains in the middle of the desert, when Lake Meade is going dry!

O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hands pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in your holy place and receive your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Last Night's Total Lunar Eclipse...

Oh, you didn't know there was one? If you lived in the Mid-Atlantic area you wouldn't - it was overcast last night at 10:36 PM. But it happened, and there are some excellent pix over at Telling Secrets.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 12 and 13

Well, I didn't post yesterday so, today I'll catch up. Getting right to the point:

Day 12: Tell politicians to take action on climate change today. Check out Tearfund's campaign work at

Now, Tearfund is a UK organization. I don't really know what US organizations there are. Greenpeace? Sierra Club? What are the most influential organizations working on climate change? Tell us who to look into in Comments.

Day 13: Put the heat on your electricity or gas suppliers and ask them if they have a green plan. Make the switch and feel cosy.

Turns out PSE&G, the local utility, does have a green plan for consumers. I have no way of evaluating if its any good, and I can't switch to it directly because I am currently a renter. but I can ask my landlord about it. How does PSE&G's plan compare with others? Is anyone using their own local plan? Let us know in Comments.

O God, you so loved the world that you gave your only-begotten Son to reconcile earth with heaven: Grant that we, loving you above all things, may love our friends in you, and our enemies for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No, Uganda is *Not* Seceding After All

From the Anglican Communion News Service

A CORRECTION on the Church of Uganda position regarding the Anglican Communion and the Lambeth Conference

“The Church of Uganda is not seceding from the Anglican Communion,” said Revd Canon Aaron Mwesigye, church spokesperson. “Some press stories have misrepresented our position.”

“The plain fact is that we are simply not attending the Lambeth Conference in July 2008, but we are still very much a part of the Anglican Communion.”

I'm glad they are not seceding, and sad they are not coming to Lambeth.

My thanks to Ann Fontaine from HOB/D for letting me know.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Did Uganda Secede from the Anglican Communion?

Readers know I don't usually comment too much on the goings-on of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, because there are lots of websites (including in All Sorts and Conditions of Sites, to the left) that do cover such news extensively. But occasionally I do enter into the fray. This is one of those times:

Thinking Anglicans have reported that the Province of Uganda has said through an official spokespoerson that it will withdraw from the Anglican Communion (here and here).

The quote is, "Anglicanism is just an identity and if they abuse it, we shall secede," he [The Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda] said. "Yes, we shall remain Christians but not in the same [Anglican] Communion."

If verified, this is the first time an entire Province has dissociated itself with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with all others who claim the identity "Anglican."

I personally think this is huge news and can't really understand why TA has buried it in a post called "More reports from Uganda."

If "they abuse it"? How arrogant. Anglican identity has always been a "big tent" sort of thing, and to say that it is those who are claiming a big tent ideal who are abusing Anglican identity is simply hubris.

I truly believe that the Lord calls us to stay at the Table no matter what. That's what "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of all" means. St. Paul was very clear that we break One Bread because we are One Body. And that's forever. I hate to see anyone walk away because he or she cannot agree with something, especially if no one is insisting that that something be applied to everybody. No one is asking Uganda or any other Province to ordain openly gay bishops or allow same-sex blessings. We here in The Episcopal Church do believe this is within the freedom of the Gospel, but we have never ever said that everyone worldwide has to go along.

Pray for the Church.


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 11

Day 11: Use local shops or farmers' markets ( - UK only instead of driving to out-of-town shopping centers. They will thank you; supermarkets won't notice your absence.

The closest grocery store to me is actually only a block away, so this one pretty easy for me. Also, there's a very large store not more than half a mile a way, and it's actually walkable, in that all the streets have crosswalks and crossing lights. No darting across multiple lanes of traffic with bags of groceries!

Can you walk to get your groceries today? Tell us how you did it. If it's too far, let us know that too.

Let your Spirit, O Lord, come into the midst of us to wash us with the pure water of repentance, and prepare us to be always a living sacrifice to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Monday Funnies

Here's a Valentine strategy for you research scientists out there for next year - better start now!
(Click to enlarge all images)

This is so true! I had totally forgotten the original "I lost my password" story!

And this one too: They're damned if they do, and damned if they do the other way. Unlike others, I tend to think elected officials are fine as delegates. Yhey have constituencies to satisfy as well, and actually have to potentially work with whomever they help nominate. So I like the current mix in the Democratic party of about 20% of all delegates as elected and party officials. Our artist below wonders:

And finally, from today's Metropolitan Diary of the NYT.:

Dear Diary:

I recently pointed out to my friend the seemingly paradoxical claim of an ad above the construction site at 535 West End Avenue, which informs that the building will have “21st-Century Prewar Residences.”

In response, he wondered whether they might know something we don’t about our foreign policy. Barry B. Perlman, M.D.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Proper of the Day: The Second Sunday in Lent

My favorite Lenten cycle is Year A, when so many of the Gospel lessons are from the Gospel of John, my favorite. Today on this Second Sunday in Lent we heard the glorious and unfortunately often-misused story of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night. It includes perhaps the most well-known verse in all of Scripture, John 3:16, and ends with perhaps the most underused verse in Scripture, John 3:17. I attempted in my sermon today to give a new glimpse into what God's love is like. My view is strongly Johannine in influence (no surprise there!) but I was definitely treading some new ground here. I'd be curious especially to hear your thoughts and reactions to what I offered at Trinity Parish this morning:

Trinity Parish in Bergen Point

Second Sunday in Lent 2008 (RCL)

Genesis 12:1-4a; Ps 121; Romans 4:1-5; 13-17; John 3:1-17

The Rev. R. F. Solon, Jr.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts always be acceptable in your sight, O God our Strength and Our Redeemer. Amen.

There’s not a person here who does not use electricity every day Think about what you use it for, for a minute. . We couldn’t live without it. We use it for the lights, for our electronics, sometimes for our heat. Sometimes our stoves work by electricity, and even when they’re gas, it’s electricity that still powers the timer and the exhaust fan and all that. Our cars need electricity – I’ve just had to put a new battery in my car after it started to wear down and I couldn’t start it anymore. I had to jump start it twice in the past week or so, which is how I knew I needed that new battery in the first place. When I was serving supply at St. ThomasVernon, I stayed overnight each Saturday in the vicarage. There isn’t a lot of furniture there, but more importantly, not too many lights. I found I really missed having those lights I ‘m used to in my own home and now am starting to really need. It was kind of dark and a little spooky. Kind of like a brownout but one that won’t get any better. And there’s hardly any aspect of our lives that doesn’t need electricity in some way, shape, or form. It’s always on, we never have to think about it. We turn on the switch and ta da! The light comes on, and all is good.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the word, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

My friends, I think the love of God is kind of like electricity. It’s always on, always there, and we actually never have to worry that it won’t be there. Unlike what we get from PSE&G, we can be absolutely assured that it will be there when we need it. And that makes us kind of like any of the appliances or lights or whatever that actually run on electricity. All we have to do to access God’s love is to plug in and turn on. I know that sounds like something from the 60s, but it’s true. This most famous verse in all of Scripture is, for me, the Good News itself. God loves us and forgives us through Jesus. All we have to do is accept that that forgiveness exists and is personally intedned for each of us, for you and for me – to plug ourselves into that unending, never-blacking-out presence of the almighty, and it’s ours. And unlike the failings of the utility company, God’s assurance of forgiveness, of complete acceptance of us and who we are, never ever ends.

Buy you know what, there’s even a better analogy for God’s love. It’s the World wide Web. Yup. The web. Now I know that not everyone here has used the Web or even has a computer, so bear with me a little bit. The idea of the World Wide Web is that information can be anywhere in the world. It’s just a matter of getting to it. so every computer that is connected into the Web has a unique identification number. Now we humans don’t do very well with streams of numbers, so we use those www. addresses instead. So if I want to see information on Trinity Parish, for example, I can type in into my web browser, and the computers behind the scenes turns that into the specific ID number for trinity’s web page, and then sends the information to my computer, which also has a specific and unique ID as well. You can actually look at maps of the Web and it looks remarkably like a spider’s web. There are a few web sites that have thousands and millions of connections, and they branch out in all directions and connect to other kinds of sites as well. The really cool thing about the World Wide Web is that you only need a single connection to any other site or node in the Web and you can get connected to the whole thing. For most of us, getting an email address is really akin to getting connected into the Web, because our email address has to be unique, ours alone, like those strings of numbers that identify the millions and millions of computers already connected to the be Web.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the word, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

I think the web is a better analogy for the love of God because it incorporates something really significant about God and God’s desire for humanity. You see, that love is not just for each of us individually, it’s for all humanity. God wants to connect to each us in a spiritual world wide web, but not only that. God want each of us to connect to everybody else as well, not just spiritually, but in our day-to-day lives. When we connect into the electricity network, the network can’t tell anything about what has just been connected except that it’s drawing more electricity. There’s no communication over the wires, the network, to other things that are also plugged in. The Web seems like a better way to think about God’s love because, once you’re connected in, you still are unique and are linked in back and forth not only to God but to all of humanity as well. Each of us maintains our individuality as one of God’s created persons and at the same time we can begin interacting with all the others who are connected in as well.

Now, you know that in both the electricity network as well as the WWW that you can go online or off. Even if you’re plugged in, you can be off, like a light or the TV or something. Same thing with a computer or printer or anything else on the web. The web “dial tone” if you will, is always on. That’s God’s love. And as I’ve said, unlike the various human networks, that dial tone of god’s love will never go down. But we can plugged in or not. And even when we’re plugged in, we can be online – connected to the network so that it knows we’re there, or offline, when the network can’t reach us. And if I may stretch this analogy one more time, I think that a little like what Jesus was talking about by being born of both water and spirit. This story from John’s Gospel is about the closest he gets to discussing baptism. Remember, there’s no Baptism of Jesus in this gospel. We have this story instead. And Jesus tells N. he has to be born of both water and spirit. Baptism is a sacrament, and we say sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and invisible grace. Since we can’t really see God’s grace, sacraments help us access that grace and love in a real and visceral way. And we can’t completely describe what a sacrament is or what it does and how it does it. we have all sorts of analogies for what happens in Baptism, and we recount those at the Blessing Over the Water at the baptismal service itself. So I’m going to suggest that baptism with water – the physical sacrament that each of us undergoes, it kind of like being plugged in to the world wide web of God. When we’re baptized we get assigned a unique ID in the entire network - our name or userID or spiritual email address if you will – and that ID is ours forever and can never be taken away from us. That’s the water part. So we can never be unplugged in that respect. But each of can and perhaps often is either online with God or offline. And that’s not anything god does or does not do. That’s our own doing. God’s love - the spiritiual internet dial tone – isd always up. God’s internet never goes down. And even though each of us never loses our unique userIDs, we aren’t always online with god’s love. Sometimes we’re offline. And I think that’s like the baptism with the spirit. The water part is forever. The spirit part – our spirit part, is sometimes not as tuned into God’s love as we could be. When that happens, we’re offline and we’re not getting the grace signals that god and the rest of interconnected humanity is sending us and wants to receive back from us too.

Lent, it seems to me, can be seen as that time of the year when we deliberately pause to see what is keeping us from being as online in God’s network as we can be. What is it that is keeping you from accessing God’s love and grace? That’s why we spend these six weeks leading up to Easter, so we can make sure we’re as open and ready to participate in that blessed network as we can. We prayed today, “Bring us again with penitent hears and steadfast faith to embrace and ever hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son.” This Lent, let me encourage you to consider how are you are or not online with God. There are all kinds of ways to do that. Let me suggest a couple. On Ash Wednesday we recited the Litany of Penitence. You might find that a way to start. On the Easter Vigil we will also renew our baptismal covenant. There are series of promises we make and remake about being online with God. You might take five minutes a day to look over the Ash Wednesday service or the Easter Vigil service and see how those lists may be inspiring you to one or more new intentions in your life. You might decide to read a bit of the Gospel each day and think about how the Good News brings you online with God. If you want to, feel free to take a Prayer Book home with you and reread either of these sections or to get a list of Scripture readings. Just bring it back when you’re done so others can share it as well! And there are lots of other ways to work on getting online with God. You can always ask on of us clergy for help too. If one particular method isn’t working for you, maybe another one will.

This whole idea of God’s love as like the Internet may or may not work for you. That’s OK. The point is that each of us trys and trys again to understand what is being offerred and how we want to respond to it. But not matter what analogy you find yourself most comfortable with. And it isn’t an analogy at all. It’s the one absolutely surefire way to practice getting and staying connected. Even if nothing else seems to be working, even if you can’t seem to find God’s grace in your life anywhere else, you can find it right here. Every Sunday, we celebrate that God is online with us, and we reconnect ourselves to God in that other sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Communion. Communion means “connect with” after all, and that’s what we do: we get back online with God and not only God, but each other as well. So this Lententide, I invite you to get back online with God. The more you do it, the easier it gets. That love, that grace, is always present, always available. God wants you and me to be in God’s network so much that he gave his only Son to set up the initial connection, so that everyone who believes in him may not be unplugged but may be online, with God and all of humanity, for ever.

In the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Amen.

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Carbon Fast For Lent: Day 10

Day 10: Give your dishwasher a day off or promote it to a Grade A energy efficient appliance.

Well, my dishwasher is my own two arms and some suds. I don't know if it's more energy efficient or not. I guess it is, because, I let the dishes airdry rather than having an electric heater dry them off.

I wonder, though, if I had a dishwasher and then replaced it with a more energy-efficient one: what would happen to the old one? Does it go to a junkyard, or what? And how good for the ecosystem is that in the long run, if so?

O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Friday, February 15, 2008

I feel like this today

(click to enlarge)


A Carbon Fast For Lent: Day 9

Day 9: Climate change isn't a distant threat – it's affecting poor communities now. Pray for the work of all organizations working on climate change to help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather.

What organization will you pray for today? Me? Episcopal Relief and Development.

Lord Christ, our eternal Redeemer, grant us such fellowship in thy sufferings, that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may subdue the flesh to the spirit, and the spirit to thee, and at the last attain to the glory of thy resurrection; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 8 Again!

Turns out the UK version of the Carbon Fast list only has 40 entries, so Sundays are excluded. This is is right, of course, because all fasts are dispensed on Sundays, even in Lent. So I could go with the American version of the Carbon Fast, but I like the liturgical sensibilities of the UK version better. So that means today is Day 8 again. Is your phone charger unplugged if you aren't using it?

There was an interesting skip in the Scripture cycle for Morning Prayer today. We've been reading from the Joseph cycle in Genesis, and yesterday we finished up Ch. 37, with Joseph being sold into slavery. Today we were to read Ch. 39, which recounts how Joseph was blessed by God in all he did. He was also handsome and caught the eye of his master's wife, but she framed him when he wouldn't have sex with her. A little R-rated scripture to start off the day never hurt anyone....

But what about chapter 38? This is the unfortunate story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar, and it's also R-rated. I can see how the lectionary editors would just skip it because it doesn't have too much to do with the main part of the Joseph story. But there's something I discovered while reading it today anyway. It was actually in a footnote. There were two children as a result of this liasion, Perez and his brother. What I didn't realize is that Perez is the ancestor of Boaz, Ruth, and Kind David, and therefore traditionally an ancestor of Jesus as well. And in fact Matthew's geneology of Jesus makes this very clear:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

So the greatest King in Israel's history, the model for all kings after him, was a descendant of incest. If God can use all these sorts and conditions of humanity to work his will in the world, what can he do with you and me if we let him?

Strengthen us, O Lord, by your grace, that in your might we may overcome all spiritual enemies, and with pure hearts serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Carbon Fast For Lent: Day 8

Day 8: Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it's not charging.

OK....excuse me for a moment....done!

I was really thinking about my carbon fast today when I shelled out $1600 in car repairs. I went in for 45K maintenance and the service manager pointed out all the other things that I should have done to keep my investment running well. Sigh. he was right, but replacing the timing belt 11,000 miles early hurt. He explained that although the car didn't have a lot of miles on it (49,000) it was a 2002 model and the belts deteriorate with age and not just usage. Why can't they make belts that don't do that? Planned obsolescence, i suppose - it keeps chumps like me paying for the maintenance rather than just waiting for the damn thing to fail.

Anyway, who is the saint in charge of cars? I'll say a prayer for not having to keep doing this. I've been a fan of preventative maintenance (it's a common topic in IT for computers, servers, etc.) and it should be done for cars too. Still, being a carbonista is expensive! Just think of the moolah I'd have if I didn't have a car - didn't *have* to have a car....

Bless us, O God, in this holy season, in which our hearts seek your help and healing; and so purify us by your discipline that we may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Carbon Fast For Lent: Day 7

Well, life is never easy. I and others have discovered there are two, possibly three, slightly different daily activity lists for a Carbon Fast for Lent. All three are on the Facebook page I created (you might have to be a Facebook member to see it), but it's nice to know that there are more than enought ideas floating around!

Day 7 (Tuesday): Check that all electrical equipment is switched off rather than on standby when not in use. Screen savers do not save electricity.

Hmmm. I leave my cable box on all the time, which is where the wi-fi point is plugged in. Perhaps I should be turning if off each morning. I'll try it. As I sit here thinking about it, my only snark is that it takes time to reboot each time I turn it on. On the other hand, so what? am I ever doing anything that requires instant internet or cable access, Right Now?

Grant to your people, Lord, grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only true God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Monday, February 11, 2008

I Added Snap-shots

Now there is a little screen icon next to every hot link, so you can get a preview of the site before you link to it. See what you think, and let me know how you like it (or not!).


A Carbon Fast For Lent: Day 5 and 6

I forgot to post yesterday's entry, so here it is, along with today's:

Sunday - Day 5: Find the most environmentally friendly way you can to get to church today
(e.g. walk, bike, car share).

I could have walked yesterday, since church is within walking distance. but I drove because I was running late. Not good.

Monday - Day 6: Turn your central heating thermostat down by one degree. If you have separate thermostats on radiators, adjust them to suit the use of the room.

My thermostat is one of those programmable ones, and during the day it's set for 60 F. It's usually at 72 F when I'm home, and so I'll turn to to 70 for the remainder of Lent.

What are other people doing? Hopefully, better than me in any case!

Updated: I thought the Collect for the Monday of the First Week of Lent was particularly apt:

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully increase in us your gifts of holy discipline, in almsgiving, prayer, and fasting; that our lives may be directed to the fulfilling of your most
gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Proper of the Day: The First Sunday In Lent

Today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. If you look carefully, you will notice that the Sundays during Lent are "in" Lent and not "of" Lent (c.f., The Second Sunday of Easter, for example). Because all Sundays, including the Lenten ones, are Feasts of Our Lord, all Lenten abstinence (except the A-Word) is dispensed during these Sundays. Thus, they are are in Lent but not of Lent.

This First Sunday in Lent is always concerning temptation, and specifically Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. We heard today the original temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Coincidentally, today is Evolution Sunday, so it presumably was a challenge for preachers to work eveolution into the sermon today. I didn't preach, so I was off the hook!

We also heard from Paul's letter to the Romans, following up on the lesson from Hebrew Scriptures, comparing Adam with Jesus. And of course the Gospel was Matthew's account of the temptation of Jesus. I'm tempted to relate each of the temptations to one of the ways we are seperated from God, the world, and each other, but I'll refrain. I do find it interesting that in Matthew, there seems to be the implication that the temptation was intentional or deliberate: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Neither Mark nor Luke have the verse in quite the same way, and of course John does not mention the event. I find the suggestion compelling. Do you suppose Jesus knew what was to happen? Or was it just Matthew's way of introducing what was to happen? I'm reminded of the movie The Last Temptation of Christ, which was, at the time, a highly controversial midrash on what Jesus might have been thinking on the Cross about just giving it all up and living out his life. I saw it in college when it first opened - this would have been in 1986 or 87, and didn't see it again until last year. Either times have changed or I have, because at second viewing I couldn't find that much bothersome.

There was a really cool coincidence today at Evening Prayer. This evening the First Lesson was from Deuteronomy 8, vss. 1-10. What's neat is that we began reading Deuteronomy back at the beginning of the Eighth Week of Epiphany, omitted this year because Lent began so early. But I was delighted to actually read the passage, given what the Gospel is for today as well. Those lectionary authors are pretty smart!

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

More Dog or Cat?

This one surprised me a bit, because I absolutely love dogs. But there it is, and it's probably about right too:

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

How about you? Tell all in comments.

(Thanks to Grandmere Mimi)


A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 4

Day four: Are you recycling everything possible? Really – everything? Look into it today.

I'm absolutely not doing this at all, and I need to. So today I will find out what my town does for recycling and report back on what I need to do to get with the program.

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


PS - the collects for each day are from Lesser Feast and Fasts, the Weekdays of Lent. There's one for every day of Lent, with Sundays being in the BCP.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

It's OK to enjoy, even during Lent....