Tuesday, May 29, 2012


More importantly, how did Father Anonymous miss this?

A few years ago I lived within range of a Catholic Radio Station and I listened to it all the time.  It was the fundi Catholics but was just much more fascinating than your typical Christian radio.  Some of the stuff they taught was right out of the stuff Luther railed against and I thought had been explained away in all of our ecumenical agreements.  

One of the preachers I loved to listen to was Father John Corapi.  Just for his voice alone.  Deep and gravely.  He was funny and a good speaker.  I didn't agree with much of what he said but sometimes he'd talk about basic faith stuff, like the need to lean on God that we all can agree on.  He was like the EWTN's pitch hitter.  The great defender of Mary, the Pope and the Catholic Church.  Not afraid to call a sin and sin and tell us all how bad this liberal, morally lax culture was. 

And apparently last year he was found guilty of sexual immorality and drug abuse.  And then he up and quit the church.  I just read about this yesterday.  I know this is an old story in more ways than one, but I was shocked.

I'm not above entertaining a little schedenfruede, but this was really disillusioning for me.  I can't imagine how this hit the people who agreed with him and admired and looked up to him.  I have to wonder... is EVERYONE screwing around?  Not to over share but I must assure you, I'm not.  I don't even have time.  How did he find the time?

And why is the Vatican going after the poor nuns when this seems to be a much bigger problem for them?  Maybe they should be doing a better job of watching over the boy stars.  

Oh and mister anonymous atheist  whatever you are calling yourself right now who always likes to post some smug anti Christian stuff on the comments that I never approve anymore.  Just don't bother.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tradition, Vestments and Doing Whatever the Hell You Like

This post has been a long time coming.  I have been thinking about vestments for some time now.

It’s become quite fashionable for both pastors (often younger ones but not always) and lay people to decry vestments as somehow creating a barrier to “authentic” ministry because they create an artificial divide between pastors and lay people in worship.  What is a bit amusing is they always talk like they are the first ones to think of this.  Please.  

Anti-vestment sentiment is as old as anti-catholic prejudice.  

A former congregation of mine had it in their founding minutes in the 1830s that “no clergy shall wear vestments as there is nothing in scripture about this”

As one person put it “It makes it look like you are having a different experience in worship than the rest of us” My response to that is “Um, well, yea I am having a different experience.”  I’m leading the worship.  My view is literally different.  I’m saying and singing different stuff than everyone else.   That doesn’t make me better.  It makes me, um…the pastor.  The Pastor is different.  

New Lent Stole
I never thought of vestments as elevating me or making me special, I always thought of them as making me blend in more with the worship and furnishings.  I’m now serving where two of the churches do not have air conditioning and sometimes to keep from passing out (or distract the worshipers who fear I may pass out) I have to forgo the alb and I really do feel naked and self-conscious up there without my uniform.  

When I wear my vestments it’s not really me anymore.  I’m just part of the worship.  My part is to lead.

Another observation I find interesting is that the very pastors who argue that pastors are just like everyone else and should claim no special authority are the very ones who feel free to break with tradition and pretty much do whatever the hell they want. 

I hear of clergy wearing whatever they want, doing whatever they please with creeds, liturgies, even lighting the paschal candle every Sunday of the year for no other reason that I can surmise other than they feel like it.    That seems like using your pastoral authority to me.  Not in a valid way to my mind.  


But I must confess to doing something similar when I began ministry.  When I started out buying vestments I decided I liked scapulars better than stoles.  They fit women’s bodies better than stoles.  

My justification was that they were aprons and that was just a valid symbolism of service as the stole.  

I did what I see a lot of younger pastors do now.  I broke with tradition to do what I liked and I made up my own symbolism to justify it. 

 I kind of regret that now.  I’m in the process of replacing them all now with stoles.  Which is kind of a shame because I really like a lot of the designs on them. 

 But it is fun to buy new stoles.   

I also bought a cassock.  Which is really pretty silly where I am.  I wore it with a surplice this Lent and I wear the cassock for funerals.  Being someone who spends a lot of time deciding what to wear – a cassock can be quite a relief.

I think this is what getting older does to you.  It makes you appreciate tradition more.  

It also makes you grumpy when you see others breaking with it so easily. 

 I suppose this is the way God planned it.  Younger people challenging the boundaries, older folks defending (yes I know that’s a stereotype, there are young conservatives and old iconoclasts) and somehow it is supposed to balance out. 

 I am more worried about pastors writing new creeds and new liturgies every week than what they wear.  I don't even like to worship at a strange ELCA church on vacation because I have no idea what I'm walking into.

  Anyway, I will probably wear my scapular with the cool three crosses this Sunday and my green one for a while as I still haven’t ordered a new green stole.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Five-Inspiration and Catching Up

Taking a little credit for my daughter's cap and honors stole
The RevGalBlogPals are talking about Inspiration.  Well it's been a very inspiring weekend for me but I'm just going to go off script and not really answer the questions other than to say that first of all the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five have encouraged and inspired me to get back on my blog.  I have things I've wanted to write about but you know, serving three churches for a year and a half is starting to wear on me and I've had a lot of things going on.

I finished my training for Intentional Interim.  The final week was at Mount Olivet Retreat Center in Farmington Minnesota.  Talk about inspiration.  It's beautiful facility on beautiful grounds and the food is wonderful.  Their dining room is surrounded with big windows with bird feeders that are miked so you can hear the birds inside.  

The intentional interim training was really really intense but excellent, good learnings even if you aren't going into interim.  I really think I'm suited for that ministry but I do have worries of how the bills get paid if there is ever a time when there is nothing available.  OTOH I am reminded of how difficult it seems to be to find ANY kind of a call and how tenuous a so called "permanent" call is.

This weekend was very inspiring.  My daughter graduated from Augustana in Sioux Falls.   My sister flew out from California to come see it.  They really make a weekend out of it.  There was a reception for the Civitas Honours Program she was part of. 

 And then a fancy Senior dinner Friday night.  I bought these extremely cool five inch platform heel animal print shoes just to wear that night.  Because where else am I going to wear five inch heels?  Oh I wore them to the church Mother's Day brunch, but I digress.  Well believe it or not I actually have another pair of animal print shoes, but they have a lower heel and are old.  So I get to the hotel and realize I must have packed in the dark because I packed ONE OF EACH SHOE!  Oh I was so annoyed.  Bad words were uttered.  Fortunately I did pack another pair of decent shoes.  But see, I still looked good. 

 My sister never dresses up so we got her a new outfit.  We were just going out the glass revolving door, and BAM she walks into the glass door.  Bloodies her nose.  She had blood all over her shirt and we were not even sure it was not broken.  I had to leave her behind with my son (who does not have the patience for "Senior Nights").  The good news is that not only did she not break her nose, but there was no feared black eye either and she was able to attend the festivities the next day.

Altar at baccalaureate

Then there was the Baccalaureate, which honestly I think was more moving than the Commencement.   Beautiful Orchestra and Choir music.  Very inspiring.  Very cute when my daughter and her friends (who could choose who to process and sit together with for this) all decided to rhinestone their caps.  This is what comes from being a figure skating and learning to stone everything

Isn't she beautiful?

What has brought a lump to your throat or a tear to you eye in a good way?  Oh and did I mention the graduation was actually on her late father's BIRTHDAY?  I'd say there was more than *a* tear.  But all of it was in a good way.