Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tagged!


Dixie has tagged me for the Seven Things About Me meme. Chances are good that some of these things won't be news to some who check in here, but heck - I've never been tagged before, so I've got to play.

Here goes!

1. I have eight siblings - six brothers and two sisters - and I am number 7 in the lineup (And right after our first child was born, for many weeks all I could think of was "What on earth was my mother thinking???")

2. I have a sizeable collection of Protestant hymnals, many of which are quite old (and many are not in English). I've never counted them before, but I know that there's a bunch! I started buying them for reference when I first became a choir director in my former tradition and it sort of snowballed for about 20 years after that. I've often wondered if I should pass the collection on to someone who could actually use them now, but I don't think I'm quite ready to give them away. Right now the thought of doing so is somehow sad - I'm not sure why. Perhaps one day ...

3. At the time we got married, both DearHusband and I were living IN our respective houses of worship - he lived in the basement apartment of his church and I lived in the penthouse apartment of mine (former pastor's residence). It's no wonder we're so comfortable in church.

4. I have a Roman Catholic tabernacle in my basement - a BIG one! (It was a wedding gift which looked fairly cool and appropriate in our church penthouse apartment when we first got married - now in our suburban rambler, not so much). In recent years I've had half a mind to see what we could get for it on Ebay. I'm thinking that if the price were right, we could part with it. So if anyone out there is looking for a tabernacle ... a really BIG one ...

5. I have been canoeing in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area of Northern MN probably about 20 times. The last time was only 2 months after ElderSon was born. DearHusband and I missed him so much during that long-weekend trip that we cried in our tent at night and so we came home from that trip early. Haven't been back since.

6. I can juggle a little.

7. OK, this one's strange: listening to a live marching band always makes me a little verklempt. I have no idea why this is, but it never fails. How weird is that? Maybe it's menopause ...

Many of those whose blogs I read have been tagged already. I'll pass on tagging this time and do it next time, when I'm not so "at the end" of the meme.

Bad Day in the Blogosphere


Today must be a day that I’m not supposed to be reading blogs and comments.

As I made my regular blog rounds this morning, I was increasingly troubled – but for different reasons – by each thing I read. The first blogpost I read was so deep that after reading it three times over I was convinced that I’m just an idiot, the next one I read just made me sort of confused and led me to believe that I have absolutely no understanding of Church of any kind at all, and the last one I read made me so troubled and shocked and angry in so many ways that I was fairly speechless (this has only happened one other time in recent memory).

God help me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Here I Stand ...


I did think of these words of Luther at church briefly this morning, remembering that my Lutheran friends were celebrating Reformation Sunday today. "Here I stand" I thought, as I stood for the liturgy. My thoughts quickly went to how ironic it is that most Lutherans will be sitting if and when they hear or read those words this morning ... "Here I stand," I thought, "and there the Here-I-Standers sit." Funny - or not.

Today was the first "last Sunday in October" I spent NOT hearing "A Mighty Fortress" or "God's Word is Our Great Heritage" at church. And surprisingly, I didn't miss it, though in considering it beforehand, I wondered if I might.

For this former-Lutheran Christian (born on the eve of Reformation Sunday!), this festival was always a favorite. As a church musician, it was, next to All Saints, my favorite of the minor festivals of the church year to plan (Luther could sure write a great hymn and choosing which of his hymns to use was always a little like being at a big and wonderful buffet!)

But I recall that in recent years, however, even when I was still a Lutheran, I grew to have a bit of an uneasy feeling about Reformation Sunday. A few years ago, even when Orthodox Christianity was the last thing on my mind, I rememeber asking my former pastor if the whole Reformation thing didn't feel to him a little like a celebration of schism. As I considered it and as I considered what most Reformation Sunday liturgies looked like in most Lutheran churches, it was really beginning to feel that way to me. I had begun only then to notice a sort of triumphal overtone to Reformation Sunday; it had begun for me to feel like "Lutheran Pride Sunday." And I remember becoming distinctly uncomfortable with it in my last couple of years as a Lutheran. The whole idea of Christians and pride (any kind of pride) has become such an oxymoron to me that in my last years as a Lutheran, I struggled with it much.

While I suspect that a rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" will always stir up something sort of primal within me, I didn't miss it this morning. Not one bit.

Glory to God for all things.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Big "Harry" Deal


So Dumbledore is gay.

Big deal.

(Outraged? Disappointed? Sad? Well, this is what happens when we take a piece of pop fictional literature and try to make of it some sort of metaphor for our faith. It isn't, and now we're just so disappointed. Dumbledore isn't Jesus Christ or God - and his creator is not a Gospel writer - Go figure.)

I've been reading with confusion how "sad" many Orthodox bloggers are - even some bloggers I greatly respect - about why Rowling needed to say now that she envisioned Dumbledore to be gay. How this statement of hers (made OUTSIDE the pages of the actual books) contributes to the loss of innocence in our children. To this I must ask why, if some are so concerned with maintaining the innocence of their children, they even let them read the books in the first place? They are full of much darkness and evil. Seems this non-sexual evil is somehow OK for our kids - but the notion of a gay character is not?

Good grief.

I have previously stated that I've never hopped on the bandwagon of looking for holiness in Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. - and I don't. Neither do I look to these works of fiction to somehow explain or portray real truths or to change my life. It's fiction - and that's all it is. Entertainment hyped by the media.

But in the little that I have read of Harry Potter, I found Dumbledore to be the noblest of all the characters: kind, wise, loving, and self-giving. But now his creator has outed him ... and yet it seems that I feel the same way about him.

I told ElderSon (age 13) last night about Rowling's grand proclamation (or slip of the lip, depending upon who you talk to). He was my family's big Harry Potter fan in his elementary school years. Of course, he'd already heard (he does ride the school bus!). ElderSon's response to this breaking news was, "So?"

My sentiments exactly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

For What it's Worth ...


The Quiz-farm quiz on Eucharistic theology tells me I'm Orthodox.

Hmmm.

Guess I should have taken the little quiz a long time ago.

Quiz results:

Eucharistic theology
You scored as a Orthodox
You are Orthodox, worshiping the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the great liturgy whereby Jesus is present through the Spirit in a real yet mysterious way, a meal that is also a sacrifice.

Orthodox 94%
Catholic 69%
Luther 44%
Calvin 38%
Zwingli 6%
Unitarian 0%

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sun!


I read in the newspaper yesterday that it has rained in our fair city on something like 17 of the first 19 days of October. Sure feels like it!

To see the sun after a couple of cloudy or rainy days is always a simple pleasure. But to see it after so many rainy days is true joy.

And on a Saturday, to boot -

a gift.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words ...

… but sometimes even a thousand words is not enough.

In recent weeks (feels like a lot longer!) I have been working on a photo gallery to add to my parish’s website. I’ve spent a bit of time taking pictures at church and more than a few evenings viewing and sorting and generally wading through pictures of the worship and parish life of the church – plugging a few photos in and “trying them on” and replacing them with others I thought might be better, considering and reconsidering which images might be helpful, especially for those potential visitors who would like a little visual taste of Holy Trinity.

At first I was fairly charged up about this task – eager to present to the world a glimpse of at least some of the beauty I have long seen in Orthodox Christianity. But the longer I spent with this project poring over the same images many times, the more futile I began to feel such efforts are. How can something as simple as a photograph or a series of photos give anyone a real or true sense of Church?

For example, how can a picture of our lovely new icon (an icon of Christ Enthroned which covers the entire ceiling of the nave) give anyone a sense of what it is like to stand in the presence of it and to see it with their own eyes – to be engaged by it and to be changed by it? The photo of this icon is nice enough and it is beautiful, but merely seeing a picture of it seems so one-dimensional. It is nothing compared to being there.

It’s the same with the liturgy. We can put some photos out there of liturgy; the liturgical actions of the clergy and the laity - of the community at worship – all of which is beautiful to see. But to simply see pictures taken at worship is so far removed from the reality of being a part of it – of worshipping – that it almost seems pointless to put such photos out there.

I feel this way sometimes when friends ask me what Orthodox worship is like. How can I answer this question? Nothing I can possibly say will describe it adequately – and so I say what the Church says, “Come and see.” But when I tell them to come and see for themselves, I say it almost fearfully – almost hoping that they don’t. Because deep down inside I fear that they will not see what I see; that what I find beautiful and rich and what I find to be undeniably the Truth, they will find to be empty or meaningless or just plain confusing. I fear that their experience of worship at my church will serve to only somehow drive us apart. So I don’t often invite – but inside I always want to, thinking that if these friends could just see for themselves a little of Orthodoxy, then they wouldn’t have to ask why I became an Orthodox Christian – they would just understand. Yet from my own experience, I know that this isn’t always true, either (having attended my first Orthodox liturgy when I was about 23 and not becoming Orthodox myself until I was 46).

But I think I have come to a place of peace about the photo album – or at least a place of relative peace. The old saying is true: pictures cannot do justice here. But the gallery is what it is, however inadequate. Whatever it turns out to be, with God’s help, it will be enough.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Which is Easier?

Every once in awhile, a post appears on Second Terrace that stops me in my tracks.

Today this one did.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Never the Twain Shall Meet


Two musical instruments I dearly love: the pipe organ and the bagpipes.

Two musical instruments I heard played together today: the pipe organ and the bagpipes.

Oh. My. God.

The twain met today in the sanctuary of the church where I work. I hope they never meet again - at least not within my earshot.

It was fairly brutal.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Another Home Remedy


...this time from the Russians!

Two adolescent boys - socks + leather tennis shoes = incredibly stinky sneakers. Incredibly.

So stinky, in fact, that we often cannot stand to be in the same house with the shoes. This morning I banished all of the smelly shoes to the deck (they spend a fair amount of time out there anyway!) and I coated the insides of all of the offending shoes with deodorizing powder and left them sit in the sun all afternoon.

At the end of the afternoon, they still stunk. Except that then they smelled like stinky shoes AND medicinal powder. Hard to believe there could be a worse smell - but this was worse.

So, I thought, if Google worked once, perhaps it'll work again! So I did a search on "remedy for stinky shoes."

Oh, there were lots of remedies out there, some fairly unbelieveable. But one recommendation was to spray the inside of the shoes with vodka. When I mentioned this to DearHusband, he said he remembered that the costumes person from our local community theatre recommended a solution of 1 part vodka to 1 part water for old musty, smelly costumes. Well, we both knew that 50% strength would never cut it for these reeking shoes, so we poured some cheap vodka - straight - in a spray bottle and applied it quite generously.

Now, almost 3 hours later, all sneakers are completely odor free...and we have some VERY happy shoes.

(Never did think to try Windex, though!)

From The Cost of Discipleship


Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.


-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, October 4, 2007

His Big Fat German/Norwegian Finger


Dear Husband cooked all day today (what a great job!) and somehow in the chopping and grating and mixing and whatever else he was doing, he apparently injured his finger. He didn't notice it late in the afternoon or early in the evening, but when I got home from Vespers tonight, he said that his ring finger (that would be the ring finger with the ring ON it!) had become really swollen and he couldn't really move it or bend it - but worse, his ring was beyond just being stuck on his hand, it was becoming painful.

I got a bag of ice and he held it on his finger over his head for awhile, and while the swelling went down slightly for a moment or two, it puffed right back up again.

Being a woman of this modern age, I sat down at the computer and did a Google search on "removing a ring from a swollen finger." The first remedy we saw was that thing where you wrap some dental floss around your finger and thereby make the finger smaller and remove the ring that way. Well we tried that and it didn't work, and messing with the finger seemed to make matters only worse.

So I checked several other sites and many recommended spraying some Windex on the finger, and leaving it on for a moment. The ring will slide right off, it said.

Windex??? I laughed, because it reminded me of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Windex was Gus Portokalos' remedy for EVERYTHING that ails you. So even though I laughed and we both joked about it, the more sites I saw for remedies, the more I saw people recommending Windex.

Dear Husband was skeptical - so was I - but heck, what did we have to lose? He was particularly skeptical when he noticed that our Windex was the green kind (with lime action or something) and not the regular blue stuff. But I got him over to the sink and sprayed it on and a minute later, he was able to get the ring off!

Perhaps Gus Portokalos was on to something!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bumper Snicker


Here's a bumper sticker I saw on the way to work today.

I must be sleepy or something, because I thought it was hilarious -

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Can I Say Yes"?


Another wonderful post from Fr. Stephen Freeman today. Especially meaningful for me was this portion:

"The question is not 'Do I need something else?' But rather, 'Can I say Yes to what has been offered to me?'”

And he is right. This is precisely the question. And answering it truthfully is exactly what it came down to for me early last fall, when I decided to become an Orthodox Christian.

In the end, however, the question "Can I say Yes?" became the realization that I could just no longer continue to say "No".

Sorry to Ruin your Drive to Work, Ma'am


Good grief - it's been so long since I've gotten a ticket that I could hardly remember what they look like anymore. For those of you who aren't from around here, THIS is what they look like in MN.

I haven't gotten a speeding ticket for many years - since before we got married almost 14 years ago. (Prior to that time, however, I got them with some frequency). Let me tell you, the cost of going 40 in a 30 zone has gone up! I figured the ticket would be about $40-$50 - was I ever wrong! Going 40 in a 30 will cost you $142 in these parts today.

To make it even worse, the cop who stopped me was so dang nice I couldn't even be mad at him about it:

"Wow - you got all the way up to 40 MPH in just this short distance from the corner."

"Really? 40??"

"Did you slow down when you saw my car or did you just realize right then that you were going too fast?"

"I'm not sure what you want me to say. I slow down when I see a police car whether I'm going 20 or 70. It's a conditioned response. I think seeing you was probably what prompted me to look at my speedometer."

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I'm gonna have to cite you."

"Well, you don't HAVE to cite me ... A warning's good! I respond very well to warnings. My last warning was about 5 years ago and I haven't been stopped at all since then. If you warn me I should be good for about another 5, right?"

"Were you wearing your seat belt when I stopped you?"

"Yes! I took it off so that I could reach inside my bag to get my driver's license."

"I'm not accusing you or anything - I'm sure you were wearing it if you say you were. I was just hoping to find something a little cheaper to cite you for and just give you a verbal warning about speeding."

"Ummm, thanks?"

(no response. He goes back to his car and comes back to mine a couple minutes later.)

"You've got three weeks to pay this. Sorry to ruin your drive to work, ma'am."


Ma'am? Did he just call me ma'am? I'm thinking he's got ten years on me and he's calling ME ma'am? Getting a ticket was bad enough ...

Ugh. Oh, well - The good news is that if he'd stopped me two blocks further up the road I'd have been in a school zone, to the tune of $209. The better news is that a speeding violation of only 10 miles over the limit won't affect my car insurance.

Happy Monday to me.