Saturday, May 24, 2008

I am, after all, Canadian

Some years ago, I developed a particular . . . er . . . connection? . . . to that strangest of strange birds, the penguin.

I don't really know how it started, but the first penguin artifact was a sweatshirt bought on vacation in Vermont - and now sadly lost.

Eventually, I was offered an explanation for this affinity I felt with the flightless denizens of Antarctica. As outlined in the book The Penguin Principles: A Survival Manual for Clergy Seeking Maturity in Ministry, one of the many commonalities of priests and penguins is the shared talent of "looking dignified and ridiculous simultaneously."

Eventually, this affinity led to some more practical choices.

As a young child in English Canada, I was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club. (To non-Canadian visitors, that is not a typo. Maple Leafs - not Maple Leaves.)

Now that simply isn't practical. The last time the Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup was 1967. Lester Pearson was Prime Minister of Canada. Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. The Canadian Book of Common Prayer was still "the new book." And the Canadian Church had just recently ceased to be "the Church of England in Canada."

No. No point cheering for the Make Beliefs. After all, it ain't Spring until the Leafs are out.

But if not the Leafs, then who?

Well, logically, if I felt a connection with penguins, I should cheer for Pittsburgh.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to bond with my son. He's actually a Canadiens fan - like his step-mother and his uncle. (Also not a typo. The team's name est en francais.) But with the Habs dispatched by Philadelphia in the second round, my son has to cheer for someone. I don't know if he's cheering for Pittsburgh because he likes his dad or because he likes Sydney Crosby, but I don't really care. We got to spend the evening together, and we had fun - despite the Penguins losing Game 1 to Detroit 4-0.

So this affinity for Penguins has brought me closer to my son.

It occurred to me later in the evening, that perhaps this is one other thing that Bob Duncan and I might agree on.

Bob and I agree on the entire Nicene Creed - though I think Bob may not believe that I believe it.

But as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, surely Bob must be cheering for the Penguins - at least a little.

(Would it be uncharitable to note that +Bob bears a startling resemblance to a particular type of penguin? - Remember that I have great affection for penguins.)

To a very large extent, the nastiness of contemporary Anglicanism is driven by two things.

First, we don't really know as much about each other as we think we do. Much of the invective and vitriol from all sides is based on assumptions - often inaccurate - about what "those people" think.

Second, we spend all our time focusing on what divides us rather than on what unites us.

I close with a little bit of liturgical dance. As the Bob Duncan like character says part way through the video, "Turn to the penguin next to you, and give him a great big hug."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trinity Sunday

The always wonderful Sarah Dylan Breuer at SarahLaughed has, unfortunately, stopped updating her lectionary blog. Fortunately the archive of old entries, covering most Sundays and Major Holy Days of the Christian year is still searchable on her site.

In her commentary on the Year A lectionary for Trinity Sunday, Sarah makes a very good point about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
For many years, it was hard for me to appreciate something that I knew I could never compreheand. I think now, though, that the incomprehensibility -- literally, that one cannot take it in, capture it in the hand -- is not at all beside the point. Where on earth did I get the idea that anything important ought to be something my mind could contain?
I've heard it suggested that prose is incapable of comprehending this great mystery. So, instead, let me offer up some poetry.

And another version:

With a more familiar set of words, but an unfamiliar melody:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mothers Day, Mother Julian and Mother Church

"And so I saw that God rejoices that he is our Father, and God rejoices that he is our Mother, and God rejoices that he is our true spouse, and that our soul is his beloved wife. And Christ rejoices that he is our brother, and Jesus rejoices that he is our savior."
Dame Julian of Norwich,
Revelations of Divine Love

I post this because of the coincidence of three observances: Mother's Day, the Feast of Pentecost and the lesser feast of Julian of Norwich.
I think it says something important about the motherhood of God. It seems appropriate as we observe both the secular celebration of Mothers Day and the sacred birthday of our Mother the Church.