10 October 2003

Order and Chaos

Well, I had an assignment for my Education for Ministry class to write a short essay on order and chaos. And I've been thinking a lot (as I mentioned) about evolution and revolution in reference to the actions of the Episcopal Church's General Convention in August, and thought I might post something to the blog about it. So: the proverbial two birds are now kaput. The stone follows:


Chaos: Hurricane Isabel blows through. Trees down. Power out for five days. Food spoiling in the fridge. No drinkable water.

Order: Blessed power. Blessed clean water. Life goes back to normal. Thank God.

Chaos: Every weekend in August, picking up our lives and driving for most of a day each way, with or without dogs, to visit friends and family in other states. Exhausting, but exhilarating and richly rewarding.

Order: September. Ho-hum. Another day, another dollar. Work, eat, sleep; nothing much special going on.

Is order preferable to chaos? Depends on the order; depends on the chaos. Order is familiarity, security, stability, comfort. But it's also rigidity, inflexibility, boredom, totalitarianism. Chaos is danger, terrorism, bad news from the doctor. But it's also serendipity, variety, the surprise birthday party. Both are aspects of God's good creation, in all its variability.

We wouldn't want our lives to be dominated by chaos. For far too many of us, living in places torn by war and poverty, chaos is the dominant reality. But chaos is also change, and change is necessary, and good, and Godly. What we really need to strive for is not unrelieved order but balance. Balance between order and chaos; change that proceeds with due caution, to avoid tipping the apple cart and spinning us off into the void of no (or scarce) return.

The middle ground between stagnation (unyielding, uncaring order) and revolution (chaotic change that happens so quickly that the consequences are impossible to foresee) is evolutionary change. Those of us who support change in our institutions, be they governmental, corporate, or ecclesiastical, need to realize that uncontrolled change can be just as harmful as no change at all, if not more so. The ends do not justify the means. This is as true for the freedom fighter as it is for the oppressor. One reason for this is that if the chosen means are uncontrolled and excessively chaotic, the ends actually reached may be very different from those envisioned.

These are some of the thoughts I've been kicking around since the Episcopal Church's General Convention in August, 2003. Let me be clear: I strongly support the full equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in all of our institutions, including the Church. I think gay people should be ordained. I think they should be allowed to marry in the eyes of both church and state. But I also think that change needs to be evolutionary, not revolutionary, or God only knows what the consequences might be.

Only time will tell what the effects of these actions will be for the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and on faithful Christians of every opinion, every sexual orientation. Do I think we'll get through this? I do. And though I know that change is no less necessary because it is painful, I am sorry for the pain that the Church is feeling over this. Most of all, I wonder if this hurricane of our own creation could have been more of a mere squall if we'd proceeded with due respect for the delicate balance between order and chaos.

If life were black and white, I'd go looking for Tobey and Reese

By the way, I've learned, since the ECUSA General Convention and its decisions that I was so thrilled about, that things are rather more complicated than I thought. I think a lot of formerly naive Episcopalians (like me) have had a lot to think about since the first week of August, as we've watched our church threaten to come apart at the seams. I've certainly not changed my basic position, but I think I may have some words to put in this blog about evolution and revolution. Later. Also, sorry for falling off the face of the earth for two months! August was full of travel, and September was full of recovery from all that travel. :-)

09 October 2003

And Eleanor too

I think I stated earlier in this blog that George W. Bush is an Episcopalian. Turns out I was mistaken. George H. W. is an Episcopalian; George W. is a Methodist. I'm actually somewhat relieved. I have a certain amount of respect for Bush the Elder. Not complete respect, but some. But the Methodists can have Little Shrub. :-) FDR was an Episcopalian. :-D

10 August 2003

World Waffling Federation

Hey, do ya think Governer Arnold and Governor Jesse will wrestle at the National Governors Association meetings? That would be so cool!

07 August 2003

News flash: blessing permitted in church

And Episcopal churches are also officially allowed to bless same-sex unions now, although the national church won't be developing an official liturgy for that ceremony. Yet. Yay!

06 August 2003


Have I mentioned that I'm very proud of my church? :-D

04 August 2003

Shake rattle and roll

I'm not sure what I read, a whole bunch of posts back, to make me think the Episcopal Church had already ordained our first openly gay Bishop, because we're actually right in the midst of controversy over the issue of his election, and it's all exciting-like. Stay tuned. The Rector of my church is at the convention and is returning this Sunday to preach, so maybe he'll say a word about it.

22 July 2003

Sometimes there's a big gap between mentions of us in the Post

Tina (my wife, for those of you who know me only through my body of work ;-) said of this blog: "I read it occasionally to find out what's going on in my life." Ha!

19 July 2003

Humans and their domiciles

I should fill in my faithful readers: No kids. Not the homo sapiens kind. Not for at least a year. We've told the county folks.

In other news, we're looking into buying a house. Just seems like the time, economy-wise. We've not got down payment money, but our friend Shobha has convinced me that we might not need it. So we're investigating. Stay tuned.

Oh, and tomorrow I become a man. ;-)

06 July 2003

Silly postmodern drivel

Google tells me that a search for "terminator matrix invisibles zen art motorcycle maintenance" yields no hits. Must correct that. The Terminator films, the Matrix films, the Invisibles comic book series, and the novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have an awful lot to do with each other, thematically. Something about the rationalistic, mechanistic, binary, good/bad black/white true/false establishment mindset of our culture and how all good lil' Messiahs must fight against it. Or some such rot.

02 July 2003

Divination is silly, but homiletics is fun

So I've been studying magical (magickal) symbol systems a little bit--like the Tarot and the Sefirot of the Kabbalah. For a long time I've been fascinated by symbols and their combinations into things like patterns and stories. I think in our rational, classical-Greek-influenced culture, we devalue symbols and stories. "That's just a story." "That's a myth." "She was only speaking metaphorically." It's related to the situation Robert Pirsig talks a lot about, the triumph of reason over value in our culture. We think that there's something called objective reality on the one hand, and then there are symbols and stories and myths that at best can point at that objective reality, but more often misrepresent or distort it. The Buddha seems to have felt that those symbols and patterns we form in our minds (and by extension, with our mouths, or with pens, computers, or Tarot cards) are reality. There is no other. Everything is empty of intrinsic existence.

I'm more with the Buddha than the Greeks on this one, although I tend to believe that it is valid to talk about objective reality, insofar as there's this phenomomen in which our subjective realities seem to agree with each other to an awfully great extent, by and large. And I also think that it's necessary to remember that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. This seems to be true whether or not the moon exists in some realm of objective realness. My point is simply that the finger is important. Without it, you'd never notice the moon. So symbols and patterns and stories are important. They're our way of processing and understanding--as well as communicating--both "reality" (whatever that is) and our internal thoughts, feelings, and imagination.

So they fascinate me, especially symbolic systems with what the Tibetans call "lineage"--meaning they go back far enough that people have worked a lot of the bugs out. It's interesting to do a Tarot reading and use the pictures on the cards to tell a story about the topic you're interested in--a story that you wouldn't have otherwise told, and which may make you think about the situation in a way you otherwise would have missed. I'm very skeptical that magickal symbolism can be used to influence or discover things about reality or other people (living or dead), or to foretell the future. I also don't particularly think that one's subconscious mind influences which cards come up in any mysterious way. I'm more interested in the other way around--the influence the cards have on your subconscious (and conscious) mind. There's power in performing symbolic acts (Christians call them Sacraments) and in telling stories--the power to change and broaden your mind. Nothing more (I think), and nothing less. But IMHO, that's a pretty big thing.

All right, getting down off the philosphical soapbox before somebody kicks my ass down.

30 June 2003

Helping others

Over the past week, we've become involved in mission activities through our church (in our church, mission means volunteer work on behalf of those in need, not proselytizing). We went to a meeting of the Committee for Helping Others (CHO) on Tuesday, and by Saturday morning I was helping CHO move furniture (picking up donations from the generous, dropping them off for the needy) while Tina was staffing the CHO table at the local farmers' market, helping spread the word. And Sunday morning we were passing out empty grocery bags before and after church, inviting folks to bring them back full next week for the food pantry of another mission organization, called FACETS. It's been fun.

27 June 2003

The Freakin' Hilarious Dog Wrangling Story

OK, so today I had a day off from work. Tina and I wanted to bring the bunnies in today, because it was really freakin' hot outside. Logistics to keep in mind: bunnies can't come in contact with dogs, as dogs will eat bunnies. Bunnies can't come in contact with each other, because then we'd have more bunnies. And we're full up, thank you very much.

So when I woke up, I put one bunny in the kids' room. Check. Other bunny downstairs. Check. Both doors closed. Check, check.

Around lunch time, I wanted to go have lunch with Tina and do some shopping. Since Blade (this dog) has a condition that makes him drink and pee a lot, when leaving the house for any length of time, the dogs have to be either outside or downstairs, where the floors aren't carpeted. And the rescue folks from whom we got Blade and Max have a rule against leaving the dogs outside, besides which, as I mentioned, it was really freakin' hot today. So the dogs had to go downstairs. So pet shuffling was in order.

A bit I forgot to mention: this morning, Max grabbed one of Tina's really cool hand-carved wooden scoops (which we use to scoop pet food) and chewed it to bits. I figured this was his way of saying "I require chew toys." OK. So I run out to Safeway and get two big rawhide bones for Max and Blade, and a smaller one for Machig. I bring them home, and Machig's reaction is "Oh boy! A bone!" Max's reaction is "Keep that thing away from me! It's poison! I know it!" Blade's reaction is HA HA HA HA... All your bone are belong to me!. So he grabs both his and Max's bones and hides with them behind the couch.

Flash forward again: it's noon, and I need to get the bunny out of the basement and the dogs into the basement. (If you haven't already noticed, there's striking similarity between a typical day in our house and the classic farmer, fox, goose, and grain logic puzzle.) So I call the dogs and ask them to go outside (into the fenced backyard, I should perhaps mention). They need a pee break before they go into the basement, and I also need them out of the way for bunny-moving. One dog (Machig)--out the door, no problem. Max, as per usual, comes when called, but stops at the back door and looks at me like "Why do you want me to go out there? There are killer squirrels out there, right? This is your way of taking me out of the picture, isn't it?" However, if I actually go outside first and call him, he comes. Two dogs, check.

"Blade!" No luck. Go looking for Blade. He's like Smaug sitting on his hoard. Behind the couch, with HIS two bones, and not going anywhere. Hmm.

So I thinks, "Maybe he's pretty stupid. Maybe he can be lured away from his hoard by the promise of something alse to add to it." So I grab Machig's bone (which she dropped before heading outside) and try to lure him away with it. It's working! But I get too close. Now his hoard consists of three bones. One in his mouth, and two that he's actully laying his great white bulk down on. Like Smaug. And if I reach for any of them, he growls at me. Somebody here was pretty stupid, but it wasn't Blade.

I think about it. "You're not budging away from those bones, no-how, right?" "Grr." OK, if he's not budging, then I can move the bunny without worrying about him, probably. So I do. Bunny's now in the bathroom. Door's closed. Check.

Now I have to get all three dogs downstairs. Machig will be no problem. Max is terrified of the basement, terrified of stairs, and doesn't trust me one wit. And King Snowball over there has no intention of moving.

I decide to try to solve the Blade problem first. I know that, although I fucked it up, the ploy of luring him away from his hoard with another treasure was working. So I grab a slim-jim-type rawhid treat and entice him with it. From a safe distance. It works; here he comes. Toss it down the cellar stairs, and there he goes, lumbering down after it. Close the door. Two to go.

I grab a leash, because I know it's the only effective method of getting Max into the cellar. I let Max and Machig in, hook up Max, and lead/call them to the cellar door. Now there's another problem. Blade has remembered the rest of his loot, and is on the other side of the door letting us know in no uncertain terms that he intends to go retrieve it right now, the moment I open the door.

So I open the door and manage to lead Max down and call Machig down without letting Blade out. But in order to pull it off and get back on the other side of the door myself without losing any pooches, I end up leaving the leash attached to Max's collar--and the phone's ringing. It's Tina. She's hungry. She wants to know when the hell I'm showing up for lunch.

I'll be leaving right away, as soon as I can get into the cellar again, unhook the leash from Max's collar and get out.

But Blade's still waiting on the other side of the door, pining loudly for his bones. And I have no doubt that Max is waiting there as well, since, as I mentioned, he's afraid of the cellar.

Ok, no problem. I grab the bones, and prepare to toss them down the cellar steps. Blade will go after them, I'll grab Max and unhook the leash, all will be well.

I open the door and toss the bones over the dogs' heads. Blade utterly fails to observe this, and makes a break for it. I grab him, but while I'm getting him back in the basement, Max makes good his escape.

I make a big mistake and let out an exclamation of frustration. This only confirms Max's deep suspicion that I'm the Antichrist. He takes off at top speed.

I close the door, with Blade and Machig on the other side of it, and go after Max. After realizing that I can corner him by closing my office door, I catch him. He's just about peeing his pants. I carefully, and with many soothing words, lead him back to the cellar and downstairs. Blade still hasn't realized where his bones are, and tries to escape, but I manage to get all three where I need them, sans leash.

The epilogue is this: this evening, Tina and I made the bunnies a permanent home with lots of room downstairs where it's cool, and on the other side of a hard door from the dogs. So less bunny shuffling should be necessary in the future.

Yeah, we need more dependents. Right.

Temporary Foster Scaredy-Dog Max

Oh, and we have a new dog. No, another one. Right.

He's a temporary foster dog, just until after the 4th of July weekend. I swear to God. After the 4th, either he goes or Tina goes.

His name is Max, and to say he's afraid of his own shadow would be to imply that his shadow has some special status that it doesn't have; he's afraid of everything. We think he must have been abused, which is pretty unthinkable, because he's such a sweet-natured guy. He's a big Shephard mix and he looks like a great big Rottweiler. He looks scary, in other words, but he's really completely the opposite. Scared.

He led us a merry chase last night, when I was a bonehead and accidentally let him out. We toured the neigborhood (broadly speaking; we saw many blocks) with me in the car, Max on the sidewalk, and Tina on the sidewalk behind him wearing nothing but a bathrobe. We eventually cornered him in somebody's back yard. Tina's pretty flabbergasted by my complete and utter lack of knowledge about how to catch an escaped animal. Now I know more.

Next post is a story that features Max as well as the other canines. Stay tuned.


Well, when we sat down with our social worker on Thursday to sign the paperwork, we totally caved. She talked us out of necessarily waiting until November. More on this later. We're still talking, analyzing our motivations and deciding how this is really going to go down.

22 June 2003

Snakes and smooches

OK, two less-momentous things to lighten the mood.

While hiking at Great Falls a week ago, Tina and I saw a water moccasin/cottonmouth, lying (perhaps in wait, perhaps in repose) on a branch jutting out over the Potomac. Cool!

And today, our dog Machig, for no apparent reason, kissed our cat Krishna on the lips. She didn't appreciate it much.


21 June 2003

Parenthood - ?

Well, our lives got turned upside down last week. After a year of telling us "probably by the end of the month" every month, and after we had become pretty thoroughly convinced that it would never happen and come to terms with that idea, the social worker called us on Tuesday and told us that our home study had been approved. We can now have foster children placed with us by the county of Fairfax, VA.

Wow. So now the a year's passed and everything's changed, we've got to figure out if and when we still want to--and are ready to--do this. When we originally signed up for the foster/adoptive parenthood program with the county well over a year ago, we had only recently found out that I was extremely unlikely to father children the old fashioned way. This was fairly devestating news, and then it seemed like a problem that had to be solved, one way or the other. We spent some time looking into medical solutions, but most wouldn't work, and those that might we ruled out either for ethical reasons or what seemed to us to be common sense reasons. (If one's sperm are broken in just about every way it's possible for sperm to be broken--number, motility, chemical potency--then is it really a good idea to take them and force them into service via high technology? Or is someone trying to tell us that the little guys just aren't meant to breed? We think the latter. We aren't luddites, but this is the creation of human life we're talking about here. Not something to be undertaken with shoddy, sub-par raw materials, in our opinion.)

So we talked about adoption. We'd talked about it before, but we were thinking we might have one child biologically, and then adopt whichever gender we didn't get. Our thinking was that we could do some good for a child who needed parents. Well, now adoption seemed like our best bet for children at all, and it was even more important to us that our apparent misfortune might be turned into good for someone. So we ruled out trying to adopt a perfect white newborn. Somehow it occurred to us that there were kids very much in need right in our own backyard. So we hooked up with the county and took their course on foster/adoptive parenting. In the course of that course, we decided to open ourselves to the foster option as well as adoption. After the course came the home study. The actual interviews didn't take too long, nor did filling out the paperwork we had to do.

But then our social worker quit, and apparently the county couldn't replace her. So our case got assigned to another worker, who was way overburdened. And so began a year-long wait, punctuated by infrequent phone calls, estimating that the approval would be completed by the end of the month. Then the next month. Then the next.

Tina changed jobs. Twice. Now she works full-time. With her added income, we sat down and formulated a plan for getting out of debt, and started putting it in motion. Our non-human kid roster went from three cats and a dog to three cats, two dogs, three ferrets, and two bunnies. We changed religions, and started to get hooked up with opportunites for volunteer mission work. Tina was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and began (successful) treatment. And we got used to the idea that parenting wasn't right around the corner. And maybe it wasn't in the cards at all. Like I said, everything changed.

So now what? Tina's certain that she wants kids to play a major role in her life, but needs to decide whether that means being a parent, or getting back into a career where she can work with kids every day. I'm certain that I both want and need to stop living such a self-centered existence, but I need to decide whether that means being a parent, or making volunteer/mission work a big part of my life. And together we need to decide what to do.

What we have decided so far is that we're not going to look at foster placements until after our 10th-anniversary trip in November which we've both planned and paid for. That gives us 6 months to get our heads on straight, and decide whether and how to make room in our lives for what would be both a huge challenge and a huge blessing.

The only constant in life is change.

16 June 2003

More goodness about the Episcopal Church

Oh yeah, and we just ordained our first openly Gay bishop. So there.

I know, that was two posts ago, but my life is lived at a whirlwind pace. Sometimes it doubles back. Keep up.

15 June 2003


It's perhaps notable that the human and canine members of the household just got back from a pretty long and extremely muddy hike at Great Falls, and the only one of the four of us that's been able to get clean so far is Tina, who took a bath and promptly fell asleep in the bathtub. The dogs could care less, but I can only live in filth for so long. The only real question is how evil to be in waking her up....

Re-joining the church of my youth

My blog has readers! I know this because I've received e-mail from a couple of them. Because I am Cheap, and don't intend to pay Blogger anything, I can't tell all kinds of wonderful statistics about them, like what percentage of them come from Tanzania, or use Opera, which makes me a little sad. But not sad enough to cough up the $$.

Let's see, a week ago, I officially became an Episcopalian again, sort of. I mean, there's no real hurdle I had to jump. I was baptized and confirmed as a kid, so I was already, strictly speaking, as Episcopalian as it's possible to be. But since I spent many years being a practicing Nothing and then a few years being a practicing Buddhist, and since I am now, without turning my back on the principles I learned as a Buddhist (and a Nothing), really getting into being a practicing Christian, it was nice to have the Bishop lay his hands on my head and make it all official-like. The ceremony was called Reaffirmation (as in reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which you can see here if you're interested) and it was done as part of the same ceremony in which folks (mostly high-school kids) were Confirmed and other folks were "Received" as members of the Episcopal Church if they were baptized and confirmed in other churches. It was nice. They gave me a nifty little prayer book.

For those who would say "Good g-d! Doesn't George W. Bush belong to that church?" I reply: Yes, but it's also the church of John Shelby Spong and Alan Jones.

14 June 2003

Pissant update

More pictures.

My pissant brother wanted me to update my pissant blog, so here it is. Rejoice, damn you.

07 June 2003


Well, I'm back from the beach. You can see pictures!

When I got back, I found that there was a new man in my house! You can see part of him here.

Don't balk at registering for ImageStation. If you make sure the "Please spam me" checkboxes are unchecked, then they won't hurt you. I promise.

Good gracious me, my life is pretty g-d damn exciting. Whew. I can hardly stand it.

24 May 2003


Leaving for a week on vacation tomorrow, so you throngs of readers who wait with bated breath for a few precious words from me will have a bit longer to wait. Try to cope.

17 May 2003

Deep thoughts on Surfer Dude

I said the following in an IM session to my brother Sean an hour or so ago, and he thought it was pretty insightful, so I'll post it here. It's about the Matrix movies, in case that's not blatantly obvious.

"People grumble about Keanu, but show me one other actor who can simultaneously play a kung-fu action hero, Christ, Buddha, and a complete fucking idiot, all at the same time."

I know that, with "simultaneously", and "at the same time", I'm being somewhat redundant. Besides that, I'm saying the same thing twice. But that was the quote as told to my bruddah, and to say otherwise would be to tell a lie.

As if you cared...

I think you need to be a bit of an extrovert to blog. I'm not. I'm an INFP (or INFJ, depending on my mood and the tenor of the questions).

First Post, but one

This was going to be my first post in my new blog, which I'm creating mostly because I don't feel like sleeping right now. But in fact it's my second. Like it matters. The quality of this post is probably representative of that of the future blog. Which should serve to drive away any potential readers.

Look, I can do bold.


Trying again

Trying a second entry, 'cause the first one didn't seem to take.