16 November 2007

A force for goo

This is really old news, but I've been interwebs-impaired for most of the week. There was an article on the Opinion page of my Beloved Employer this past Monday on the Emerging Church. The writer (a stringer, unfortunately, so I couldn't just walk down to the 3rd floor and say howdy) seems to be a fan of the movement, calling it "A Force For Good" - but I found the truncated version of the headline in the online story's URL more amusing. :-)

In sadder news, Beloved Employer is laying some folks off. :-(

12 November 2007

Events this week

If you're local (to the DC/NoVA area), don't miss these fun and faithy (faithiness is next to truthiness!) events this week:

TUESDAY: The DC Emergent Cohort will gather at the Front Page on Dupont Circle (right near the Dupont Metro stop), 7pm. Sara won't be there, so we can behave in an unseemly and embarrassing manner, if we so choose. ;-)

WEDNESDAY: It's Karaoke Night at The Lamb Center (Fairfax county's only daytime homeless shelter), from 6:30 - 8pm. Come join Lamb Center clients and teen and adult volunteers as we together seek and find our inner ham. And seek and find Christ, too. Maybe the two are related.

THURSDAY: It's MESH-a-rita's Tres: We'll be slurpin' 'ritas, wolfin' burritos and chattin' about life, the universe, and whatnot at Tequila Grande, (444 Maple Avenue West, Vienna VA 22180). Thursday, 15 November, 7pm SHARP(ish). Join us!

08 November 2007

I am the LOLrus. Goo goo ga joob.


1) I forgot to give a hat-tip to Randy for the Olbermann rant on the Bush administration and water-boarding.

2) Turns out Hillary's entourage did leave a tip. Maybe. Maybe it was on a credit card. Maybe it was cash. Maybe it didn't get shared among the staff like it was meant to.

Whatever. If I was wrong to believe that Sen. Clinton and her peeps neglected this, then I apologize. But my bucket is still pretty empty, and I'm sorry to say that my impression of the Senator led me to believe this pretty readily. :-(


Perhaps you've met the LOLrus. If not, allow me to introduce you to his tragic tale:


Sad, no?

How am I like the LOLrus, you ask? Well, not in many ways, honestly. Very little has ever been taken from me. However, there is one thing I must admit that I miss - perhaps not as muct as LOLrus misses his bukkit, but acutely. Acutely.

I miss mah sense of hope and respect for US national politics. The Bush administration, it seems clear, is almost completely devoid of integrity. (I'm afraid I probably have to retract my earlier "I respect Dubya" post.) And as I look at the presidential election that's shaping up, my temptation to laugh about Christian Right leaders endorsing Republican candidates - who utterly fail to represent the values the Christian Right supposedly stand for - is more than dampened by the probability that I'll be forced to vote for Hillary Clinton instead. I really don't want to vote for Hillary. She so totally doesn't get it. :-(

I still have some hope. Not a bucketful, but some. Mostly in Obama. But quite honestly, the hope that can fill that particular bucket - politics - it probably always going to be pretty false, IMHO.

So, bye bye, bucket. I miss you. But in retrospect, you were always empty.

05 November 2007

Can self-deception be a good thing?

This is rare, but not unprecedented: an article published by my beloved day-job employer has got me thinking. It's about a trendy new therapy called "healing touch" that's being offered by a growing number of hospitals to treat post-surgery pain, among other things. Give the article a read if it sounds interesting to you. Be sure to click on the ads. ;-)

Here's what I'm noodling about. I have some gut guesses about this procedure. I wouldn't be surprised if any or all of them are wrong, and that's not really my point, anyway. Here are my guesses:

1) This stuff really works.
2) It works because the patients believe it works, not because there's really an energy field around our bodies that can be manipulated by folks moving their hands over it.
3) It wouldn't work if the patients believed that it only works because they believe it works.

Again, these guesses are not really my point. I don't really want to debate their accuracy. They are, admittedly, just hunches; we're not going to determine truth regarding them via discussion.

My point, instead, is this: let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that I happen to be correct on all three counts. In that case: is there anything wrong with this sort of New Age placebo therapy, from an ethical/moral/spiritual point of view? Or put more bluntly and generally: can self-deception be a good thing if it relieves pain?

01 November 2007

Hierarchical accountability

So I've been a pretty vocal critic of certain assumptions regarding hierarchical accountability (as contrasted with relational / mutual accountability) in the Church. When a leader's accountability is the business of his or her boss(es) alone, all kinds of sick s**t will happen. When a leader's accountability is explicitly the business of his or her congregation, friends, mentors, etc. in a flat (or flattish) network of mutual friendship and honesty, then guess what? All kinds of sick s**t will happen. Why? Because we humans are sick, sinful, self-interested, cowardly s**ts. But my point is that this seems to be the most common defense of church hierarchies - denominational judicatories, Senior Pastors, Archbishops, etc. We need them, I'm told, to maintain accountability and discipline.

Well, I sincerely doubt it. I'm not aware of any sizable hierarchical church system in which appalling crap occurs at a rate greatly less than I would expect if there weren't bishops (or whomever) "maintaining order". Definitions of "appalling crap" will, of course, differ, but I believe this statement to be true no matter where one stands on various political and theological spectra. You may find gay bishops appalling, or you may feel that way about the exclusion of gay folks from leadership. Or maybe you're scandalized by Druidic Eucharistic prayers. Or maybe you're shocked by sexual abuse of children by clergy. I sure as hell hope you're shocked by that last one. Well, all of these things (and much more!) have happened in just my own denomination in recent years, despite all its bishops keeping order - and your church system (if you have one) is no more immune to bad stuff, I assure you.

So I found this story both affirming and challenging to this smack I like to lay down regarding hierarchical accountability. On the one hand, it's an excellent example of hierarchical accountability working. Yay - nay, mega-yay - for Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, for kicking the episcopal ass of this dude who, if these allegations are true, should probably not be out of prison, much less in a church leadership position. ++Katharine's kung-fu is strong.

On the other hand - UCK! What the hell is wrong if this crap has been going on with these two brothers since the seventies, and they made this (accused) spineless worm - this (alleged) craven enabler of kids' lives being f**ked up for all time - a bishop?? I know no human organization is perfect, but dude, we are one seriously broken Body. Not news, I know. :-(

HT: Steve (among others)