Sunday, May 31, 2009

Veni Creator Spirtus

I love this hymn

President's "Date Night"

Really the Republicans just can't find much of substance to fault President Obama. Now they are ticked off he took his wife out to dinner and a show in New York?

According to the New York Times:
“As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills,” RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in an email this afternoon.
Apparently some people have the same expectations of their president as they do of their pastor. No personal life. Pour yourself into the problems and troubles of your people. Neglect your family for your job. Considering how I've seen that work out for pastors who do that and thier congregations, that is the LAST thing I want my president to do.

Frankly I am happy that the president is attending to his marriage. You know the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" And he's taking care of himself. So he can do what he needs to do for the country. I find that reassuring.
Plus I just love see what Michelle wears to these things!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Just Let them Die

I've read two blog posts this week on the same subject. Horribly conflicted, dysfunctional congregations chewing up and spitting out young naive inexperienced pastors right out of seminary. First it was Wounded and Healing (whose entire blog is devoted to getting over her tramatic experience at one of these disasters) and then Madeline's Egg has weighed in

They both have the same advice "Don't send another inexperienced pastor to these people" and of course the Bishop or whoever is in charge of these things always does. I've had the same experience.

I don't blame the Bishops. This is the thing. I'm an experienced, older, wiser pastor. I could take these people on. They would have a hard time pushing me around. But why the hell should I subject myself to that again? Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it and I'm not going back thank you very much.

Maybe we should just let these places die. That's what we do for people. We don't force painful, tramatic life-saving measures on people that don't want it. We make them comfortable and we let them die. So I say send these sick congregations a nice old chaplain to preach on Sundays, visit their old people and leave them the hell alone otherwise. And let them die. And start over.

This was actually my thesis for my Doctor of Ministry. I had a hard time selling it. They kept wanting me to write about how to "fix" these places. I say some illness is terminal. And even the guy who is dying of lung cancer because he smoked like chimney or liver failure because he was an alcoholic or diabetis because he refused to take care of himself deserve loving pastoral care and to hear the Word of Grace.

We believe in resurrection. We understand human beings are not meant to live forever. Why do we assume congregations should live forever? By all means lets stop tramatizing our young seminary graduates but let's not waste our wise, creative leaders on congregations that don't want wisdom, creativity or leadership for that matter. If they want to die, give them hospice care. And let them die. So that a church that wants to actually be the church can rise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Fire Fighter Case" is more Complicated

I listen to NPR's Morning Edition when I drive to the skating rink early mornings (5:30 am). A few weeks ago before anyone heard of Sonia Sotomayer, they had this interesting piece by Nina Totenburg on the infamous "firefighter case". Supreme Court Hears Firefighter Promotion Case You know, the one the Right is touting as proof that Sotomayer is "racist" and just summarily dismissed this "obvious case" of discrimination against whites and will "surely" be overturned by the Supreme Court?

Just read the article and you will see that the case is much more complicated. And if it will "surely" be overturned, that's just more proof how much we need more Sonia Sotomayers on the bench!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guerrilla gardeners plant public soils with controversy

Daily 49er - Guerrilla gardeners plant public soils with controversy

Shared via AddThis

Article about "Guerrilla Gardening" - folks who plant gardens on unused public lots of soil. I think it's a great idea. I've been known to do "Guerrilla weeding" I cannot walk by a spot without pulling out some weeds. It used to embarrass my kids. Of course that was when just the fact I existed was embarrassing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Skating Video

Scott Hamilton skating to "Battle Hymn of the Republic" - It doesn't say but I think this is the 1986 World Professional Figure Skating Competition.

Scott dedicated this number in 1985 to the 1961 to the US World Figure Skating Team who were all tragically lost in a plane crash.

New Blog in Town

I want to introduce you to my friend Mark and his new blog. Mark is very smart, a very deep thinker and a great photographer - I think he's going to have some interesting things to say!

Restenergy Blog

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Five - Vacation

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home? It was just my Mom and I and other than two big trips - she took me to Hawaii when I was about 10 and to Europe when I was 13. The trip to Europe was horrible. It was one of those bus tours where you visit 75 countries in 13 days. I was 13 and miserable, what can I say? Other than that we lived in Southern California and went to the beach a lot and Disneyland occasionally.

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:

When my husband was alive -there are two
Before we were married we drove cross country from Wisconsin to California for my ordination. First we went to Seattle to visit my sister and then drove down the coast. That was when I knew we were right for each other that we survived a cross country drive without killing each other. Or even fighting that I can remember. I remember those as carefree days. We stopped for ice cream and had about an 8 hour drive to our final destination at my Mom's. We decided we were tired of driving, found a hotel and called my Mom and said we'd get there the next day. I don't think I've ever felt that free to change plans since then. It was a magical time.

Fast forward several years later 1996 - kids are 6 and 8 and we met my sister for a vacation in Colorado Springs. Just had a wonderful time. Loren my husband was an excursion train nut and we took the Durango-SIlverton train through the mountains. It was wondeful. Two years later we camped near Custer State Park. Now that I think about it we really did have a lot of great vacations as a family. My husband would always plan them.

Another thing I remembered about our vacations - I would buy the brightest, gaudiest fabric I could find and make us all matching shirts. And my husband, God bless him, would wear them without complaint. Here's a picture of him in a shirt I made for him out of fabric with trains on it. He was such a good sport.

After my husband died -
Two vacations stand out. My husband and I had planned to take our kids to Washington DC when they were 9 & 11 and that's exactly what I did. We spent a week in DC, then I rented a car and we went up to Gettysburg and then down to Harpers's Ferry, Sheanadoah forest, stopped at Montecello and then spent a couple of days in Williamsburg, VA. One great thing about my kids they always loved these sight seeing - historical and natural sights vacations and never begged to go to amusement parks. Though we did go to the Hershey park in Hershey PA!

And then I took a chunk of the life insurance and took the kids on a three week trip to Italy when they were 14 and 16. Another margical trip. No organized tour - just on our own - we took the train everywhere. First we went to Sorrento, then rented an apartment for a week in Rome, then Florence and then Venice. I have a detailed report on that trip here
Italy Trip

When my daughter was skating we used to travel a lot to go to skating competitions. I always tried to get in some sightseeing whereever we went.

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?
I always like to go to the State Fair whatever state I'm in. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Farmers Market in Des Moines and that was so big it was almost like going to the fair.

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)

I recommend the Iowa State Fair. Good food. Lots of people and things to see. But if you go to the midwest - Go to Wisconsin - there's much more to do and prettier things to see.

5) What's your DREAM VACATION? I love to travel. I'd love to go to Africa.

Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!)
Just that we used to say about my daughter "The vacation is not over until Sarah throws up" I think you get the picture.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ascension of Our Lord

So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'

Acts 1:6-11
The Feast of the Ascension is something of a lost festival. Churches used to have special weeknight worship services to celebrate it. Nobody pays much attention to it anymore.

Part of the problem is the difficulty we have as post modern folk with the image of Jesus taking off as if he had jet rockets attached to his feet. Perhaps we think of it as a sad day. It seems a cruel trick that they get their beloved Lord back for a short 40 days, only to have him leave them again.

But Jesus did not leave them. We have these difficulties because we think of heaven and earth as different locations in the same space and time. N. T. Wright in his "Surprised by Hope – Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church" says we need to understand heaven and earth to be different dimensions of God's creation. 

I think the Eastern Orthodox icons of the Ascension do a much better job of portraying the "other" dimension than does Western artistic images of Jesus floating up the sky.

So that when the risen Christ "ascends" to his heavenly throne at the right hand of God, he has not left us at all. In fact he has entered a dimension where he is accessible to all of us, regardless of where on earth we are. On earth, Christ is only available to his disciples in first century Palestine. Ascended to his Father, Jesus is available to believers of all times and places

…the ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on earth to find him. Second, heaven is as it were the control for earth; it is the CEO's office, the place from which instructions are given "All authority is given to me, 'said Jesus at the end of Matthew's gospel, "in heaven and on earth" (pg 111)
I think this is also the vision in Revelation – where the saints gather to worship God – it is not some future place – it is reality now. Wright argues and I agree that the biblical view of salvation is when God joins and heaven and earth. Christ's ascension is the beginning of that joining of heaven and earth, future and present.

Heaven is not far away in the sky – it is as close as our prayers.

Almighty God, your only Son was taken up into heaven and in power intercedes for us. May we also come into your presence and live forever in your glory, though you Son, Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Wondering

Does the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod REALLY have so little business of their own that they can dink around telling the ELCA what they think we should do?

Resolution 1-02
To Address the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Debate on Homosexuality and the Ministry

I think they are just jealous that they are missing out on all the fun as synod assemblies in the ELCA discuss the Task force's Sexuality Statement and Recommendations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

St. Matthias Prayer

Last Thursday the 14th was the commemoration of St. Matthias. But the first lesson for this Sunday, the 7th Sunday of Easter is Acts 1:15–17, 21–26, describes how Matthias being chosen to take Judas place by drawing lots. And I got this wonderful prayer from my friend Erik that I wanted to share.

Matthias, patron saint of
tailors, carpenters alcoholism, and Gary Indiana--
well, here's the day he gets chosen
to replace Judas the betrayer
and then there's no more
about Matthias, except mystery.

Meanwhile we eavesdrop on your prayer, Lord,
asking protection for your loved ones,
sending them out into the world;
they must have been confused at all this.

Not all of us are the big names
upon which you build your church;
some of us wonder if we're more Judas than not
and others feel like Matthias, fading into
the background. Even so,
Sew us together into one great piece;
One holy, whole home
for sinners and saints alike.

© 2009 Erik Doughty. Permission to reproduce this work is granted only when
the author is credited.

Loren's Birthday

Loren Paul Hanson May 19, 1950-August 1, 1999
Today is my husband Loren's birthday. He would have been 59.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skate Down the Yellow Brick Road

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Ames Figure Skating Club's Ice Show, Skate Down the Yellow Brick Road. It was different than anything we had ever done before. The whole show was an Ice Theatre. We did the whole story of the Wizard of Oz on Ice --all the music from the Julie Garland movie.

For weeks I was singing "Come out come out wherever you are. And meet the y
oung lady who feel from a star" in my head.

We really put on a professional quality event. We rent lights. We have amazing artists who do the backdrops. We have an amazing lady who designs and sews all the costumes. Talented coaches who choreograph the numbers. I was the show chair last year and I thought we did a good show - half of the show was an ice theatre of a family who got to go to Disneyland (I was the Mom in that) I thought we put on a good show last year. This year we outdid ourselves.

I was Auntie Em and even got to skate a little 1 minute solo - When Dorothy is locked up in the castle and dreaming about Auntie Em.

I did a few walz 3s, a couple of half flips - a LONG spiral that elicited applause (probably people amazed someone my age could actu
ally get my leg up that high) and a little spin. I was also one of the trees that chased Dorothy and the scarecrow in the enchanted forest.

An Interview with Mom Priest

MomPriest over at RevGalBlog Pals is interviewing us....

1. Where do you blog?
Mostly in my office in my house. Occasionally at church. I just read someone else's interview - maybe Iowa would be a better answer.

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Madeline's Egg

3. What gives you joy?

What do you mean by joy? To me, joy is not an emotion that is affected by outside things. Joy is the peace of mind and confidence that in the words of Julian of Norwich "All will be well" despite what is going on around me. Hate to sound corny, but God gives me that joy. Now things that make me happy - when my kids are happy, when the crocus finally bloom in the spring, when it's warm outside and I can go out and garden, when a feral cat finally warms up to me and lets me pet her, when the congregation sings acapella as the organist comes up to commune, when I finally "get" a move in figure skating....

4. What is your favorite sound? The human voice singing a simple folk song or gospel hymn.

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
Well done good and faithful servant"

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Loving wife and mother. Faithful pastor

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
"She heard the door slam behind her" I fantasize about writing an historical novel about Mary of Egypt. Her story begins as a runaway teenager. I guess that's not really an American novel. But in my fantasies it is great!

8. What color do you prefer your pen? Bright blue

9. What magazines do you subscribe too? Christian Century, Time Magazine, Chili Peppers Magazine, The Lutheran, Skating Magazine, International Skating

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?

My life is not about achievements. I want to live to see my children achieve their goals and dreams. I hope to travel some more. I hope to see the church become less divided.

11. Why are you cool?
My daughter's friends say I am.

12. What is one of your favorite memories? The day my husband and I got married.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave

Sad. Discouraging. Just more evidence that all we can do is throw ourselves on the mercy of God.

First an interview in the New York Times with former Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, who, of course, has written a book - "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop"

Weakland, you may remember was forced to retire when it was revealed he paid $45,0000 "hush money" to a man with whom he had a sexual relationship. The man claimed it was date rape, Weakland insists it was a mutual affair.

Obviously the Catholic Church is unhappy with his memoirs in which he criticizes the church for many things, it's bureaucracy, it's stance on homosexuality, it's covering for pedophile priests. Although he also was guilty of moving abusive priests into other parishes. Here is a rather harsh indictment The Hypocrisy of Archbishop Weakland . As I read the interview with Weakland, it does seem as though he is eager to blame everybody but himself

But there certainly is enough hypocrisy to go around. It's just a mess. But it does make me think Martin Luther was right when he said that requiring people to be celibate just asks for trouble. Which is why I am inclined to support gay marriage. As St. Paul says "It is better to marry than to burn" (I Corinthians 7:9)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Postville-One Year Later

Postville children of fathers in prison and mothers left without resources

"When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien"
Leviticus 19:33

One year ago today Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came in with helicopters and over 900 agents to raid Agriprocessors, Inc., the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant located in the town of Postville, Iowa, looking for undocumented workers. The raid – officials boasted – was "the largest single-site operation of its kind in American history."

Here is a first hand account by a government interpreter telling of how he saw these people treated and due process trampled -

Interpreting the Largest ICE Raid in U.S. History: A Personal Account

I live only a few hours from Postville - we have an ELCA church in Postville, whose pastor, Steve Bracket has been very active working with St. Bridget's Catholic church to help deal with the human devastation left in the wake of this raid. In fact Postville is the hometown of our synod Bishop.

There is a lot to this story, including horror stories of abuse and exploitation of the workers long before this raid. But of all the horrors involved in this, to me, one of the most egregious was the way the government (under direction of the Bush administration) decided to prosecute these workers for identity theft, since they had false and stolen social security numbers (given to them by Agriprocessors) They were intimidated into guilty pleas, many of them believing they would be deported and instead were sent to prison.

For "humanitarian reasons" several women with small children were not sent to prison, but were instead given monitoring devices and allowed to remain home with their children. HOWEVER - they were not allowed to work! Not allowed to go back to their country. And not eligible for any aid. So they were basically reduced to begging. The churches in Postville and nearby Decorah have been supporting these families at the cost of $80,000 a month. It was this particular travesty of justice that just blew my mind. And to this day, a year later--many of these women still do not have a court date in sight.

Oh yea and the charges of identity theft? Recently the Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot charge someone with aggravated identity theft unless you can prove they INTENDED to steal them. Postville Prosecutors Used Flawed Identity Theft Law

And get this – The one Agraprocessors employee who was charged and pleaded guilty to GIVING these numbers to the undocumented workers has been allowed to withdraw her plea because she is claiming now that she didn't know they were stolen. She just thought they were fake numbers! She gets to withdraw her plea. Lawyers are now trying to get the courts to allow the undocumented workers who were bullied into pleading guilty the same deal.

And those who complain that these people were taking jobs from Americans? The story gets even better. After the Mexican and Guatamalen workers were hauled off to jail, Agriprocessors flew in hundreds of people from PALAU – an American Pacific island thousands of miles away. Oh but they were legal. They were subject to the same kinds of abuses. They were promised housing and then Agriprocessors stopped paying for the heat (in the middle winter in Iowa!) Then they went bankrupt and left the Palauans stranded with no housing, no money and no way to get home. One night many of them spent the night in a roller skating rink. A lot of them eventually found work elsewhere but the churches were left to support them as well. You can read more about THAT disaster here:

Postville Palauans find tarnished American dream

All of this because we refuse to deal honestly with immigration reform.

Postville churches also will "sound a call for justice" by ringing their bells at 10 a.m., the time the raids began. Bells will toll 389 times at St. Paul Lutheran Church in remembrance of those arrested and their families, largely Guatemalan and Mexican nationals.

The 389 names will be read aloud during an interfaith prayer service later in the day at St. Bridget Catholic Church, followed by procession to the plant. Lutheran and Catholic bishops, as well as a rabbi, plan to participate.

"We will pray that something positive comes out of what happened at Agriprocessors -- that some of the hearts and damage done to people will be healed," Pastor Steve Brackett

I won't be able to be In Postville this afternoon but I will join them in their prayers and hope that you will as well.


Immigration raid leaves damaging mark on Postville,

Iowa American dream still shines for women detained in Postville raid

Postville, Iowa, One Year Later
A Statement from LIRS and 16 Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America