Friday, December 29, 2006


I hope everyone's having a good Christmas season. I'll post a real update later. Meanwhile, here's a quiz, ripped from Another Episcopalian Blog:

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Great, and probably accurate enough, except for the line about "older churches." I'm a thoroughly committed Episcopalian. I love liturgy too much not to be. Also, I don't know who the man in the picture is. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Remember the Christian Peacemaker Team workers who were kidnapped in Iraq in November 2005?

News comes from Sheila Provencher, a fellow CPT member and friend of theirs, that the men who kidnapped them have allegedly been apprehended and imprisoned in Iraq. Authorities have asked the three survivors to testify against their captors. James Loney, Norman Kember, and Harmeet Singh Sooden spoke at a press conference in London on December 8, and gave their response to that request.

Let these men be lights to the world, as winter approaches. If I ever were in a similar situation, I hope that I could respond with the same love, clarity, and living faith.

We three, members of a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation to Iraq, were kidnapped on November 26, 2005 and held for 118 days before being freed by British and American forces on March 23, 2006. Our friend and colleague, Tom Fox, an American citizen and full-time member of the CPT team working in Baghdad at the time, was kidnapped with us and murdered on March 9, 2006. We are immensely sad that he is not sitting with us here today.

On behalf of our families and CPT, we thank you for attending this press conference today.

It was on this day a year ago that our captors threatened to execute us unless their demands were met. This ultimatum, unknown to us at the time, was a source of extreme distress for our families, friends and colleagues.

The deadline was extended by two days to December 10, which is International Human Rights Day. On this day, people all over the world will commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948 by speaking out for all those whose human dignity is being violated by torture, arbitrary imprisonment, poverty, racism, oppression or war.

We understand a number of men alleged to be our captors have been apprehended, charged with kidnapping, and are facing trial in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. We have been asked by the police in our respective countries to testify in the trial. After much reflection upon our traditions, both Sikh and Christian, we are issuing this statement today.

We unconditionally forgive our captors for abducting and holding us. We have no desire to punish them. Punishment can never restore what was taken from us.

What our captors did was wrong. They caused us, our families and our friends great suffering. Yet, we bear no malice towards them and have no wish for retribution. Should those who have been charged with holding us hostage be brought to trial and convicted, we ask that they be granted all possible leniency. We categorically lay aside any rights we may have over them.

In our view, the catastrophic levels of violence and the lack of effective protection of human rights in Iraq is inextricably linked to the US-led invasion and occupation. As for many others, the actions of our kidnappers were part of a cycle of violence they themselves experienced. While this in no way justifies what the men charged with our kidnapping are alleged to have done, we feel this must be considered in any potential judgment.

Forgiveness is an essential part of Sikh, Christian and Muslim teaching. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first of the Sikh Gurus said, "'Forgiveness' is my mother..." and, "Where there is forgiveness, there is God." Jesus said, "For if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." And of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) it is told that once, while preaching in the city of Ta'if, he was abused, stoned and driven out of the city. An angel appeared to him and offered to crush the city between the two surrounding mountains if he ordered him to do so, whereupon the Prophet(PBUH) said, "No. Maybe from them or their offspring will come good deeds."

Through the power of forgiveness, it is our hope that good deeds will come from the lives of our captors, and that we will all learn to reject the use of violence. We believe those who use violence against others are themselves harmed by the use of violence.

Kidnapping is a capital offence in Iraq and we understand that some of our captors could be sentenced to death. The death penalty is an irrevocable judgment. It erases all possibility that those who have harmed others, even seriously, can yet turn to good. We categorically oppose the death penalty.

By this commitment to forgiveness, we hope to plant a seed that one day will bear the fruits of healing and reconciliation for us, our captors, the peoples of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and most of all, Iraq. We look forward to the day when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is respected by all the world's people.

Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember, James Loney

Monday, December 11, 2006

It must be finals week...

Here's a Christmas meme, courtesy of Mimi.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I’m quite fond of Silk Nog, though I haven’t had any this year.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I don’t have kids. When I was one, Santa wrapped presents.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I like colored lights. Hate the flashing ones, though; they give me a headache.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. We did when I was little, though. It wasn’t the real plant; it was a little elf-like thing in a sphere of plastic leaves.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
When I was a kid, sometime in December. Now I have Christmas at friends’ houses; sometimes I get to help decorate, sometimes I don’t. Last year, I went to Placerville with the Apostle in Exile to get a tree, and we decorated that weekend. I think it was the first weekend in December. This year, another friend already brought her a tree, and we'll decorate next weekend.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
My favorite tradition involves a potluck with friends in Olympia, so whatever’s there. I won’t be there this year; I’m staying in CA, and I’ll miss celebrating with them. (I’m doing the holidays this year both with the Apostle and at my own church, so it’ll be good.)

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
When I was 7, I got an indoor tent to play in, and a fluffy fake-fur rug. I crawled in there with books, paper, and markers, and was quite content.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I think I started putting things together when I recognized my grandmother’s handwriting on a present from the cats. I was something like 5.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Not usually. Now, waiting is half the fun.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I don’t always get to—like now, I live in a grad student dorm. I’m going to the Apostle’s for Christmas, and we’re decorating this weekend. We’ll put up a new batch of white lights (her preference), and whatever ornaments survived last year’s sap-fest.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it, and won’t see it again as long as I live in CA. I’ve only had one white Christmas, when I was 4. I don’t really remember it.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes, though I’m wobbly at it. I’ve only been once; I always went roller-skating, as a kid.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I don’t have one favorite. I’ve had a lot of good ones. Last year, friends gave me both a wood carving of Mary and the infant Jesus, and a Jesus action figure. It was the perfect combination of “getting” what I’m doing, and having fun with the idea. I know one thing that I’m getting this year, and I will love it.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Celebrating the Incarnation in a community of love.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Probably fudge. The Apostle and I celebrate practically everything with truffles, though.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Midnight Mass. It's a big reason I'm staying south this Christmas; this is my favorite holiday, and I want to worship in my own parish.

17. What tops your tree?
Not mine, but I think a mutant angel tops the Apostle’s.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Both. I’m usually excited about the gifts I’m giving, and I often have no idea what I will get.

Aside: I love getting presents, but I wish our cultural Christmas weren’t so much about that. The quiet, expectant waiting in the dark of Advent thrills me. Honestly, what does retail madness have to do with the Incarnation of God on earth? My friends and I share the holiday with a few simple, well-chosen (or much needed) presents; it’s part of the celebration, but not so much that materialism dominates everything. It’s fun, and still allows us to enjoy everything else about the holiday.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
God On His Birthday, which I can’t find a recording of. Also: O Come, All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, We Three Kings (okay, that’s Epiphany), Good King Wenceslas, and lots of other old, traditional songs. There's also a bluegrass "Star of Bethlehem" that cracks me up; I think it's Ralph Stanley.

20. Candy canes:
I’ll eat them, but I don’t seek them out.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

22. What do you leave for Santa?
When I was a kid, milk and cookies.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prophecy and discernment

It’s been a busy week. Above is a photograph I took of my bishop, Marc Andrus, on Thursday. I went with a friend from St. Aidan’s to a Eucharist in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco, in remembrance of all who have died in Iraq. About 200 of us processed down the hill from Grace Cathedral. My priest was there, as were a handful of other CDSP students, and my faculty advisor. It was very clearly a Christian service, with some nice interfaith touches. We sang, prayed, heard some of the Beautiful Names for God (read in English, not Arabic) and listened as names of the dead were read to us. Bishop Marc preached a five-minute sermon on the theme that no one dies apart from God. He celebrated the Eucharist, and quietly slipped toward the entrance of the Federal Building, where he and 12 others took part in a die-in. They were arrested for doing so. I am proud of my church, my bishop, and all those who were arrested with him. I don’t see it as a political statement; I see it as focusing awareness of the presence of God in a place that needs healing. I don’t want to be a bishop, but this is a piece of the kind of work I want to do.

I chose not to be arrested, because I’m still in school, don’t have a job, and am a little leery of law enforcement since I was caught in a pepper-spray incident at a protest in Olympia in March 2003. But they handled it really well, here; it was all done with order and respect. If I don’t have to fear for my lungs (I have asthma), I can think about sticking my neck out some.

I’m going to be sticking my neck out in other ways, which excites me tremendously. I met with my rector on Wednesday, and was sent along to the Vocations Committee at my parish. I haven’t gotten to speak with the coordinator yet, so I don’t know exactly what the next steps are. After we’ve spoken, I’ll share what I can; what this means is that I’m moving from being a member of my parish with clear intentions, to being actively and officially in the discernment process.

I feel so affirmed, and so deeply, completely ready. I could have initiated the conversation that led to this months ago, but was flirting back and forth with feeling ready to do it until now. The doubts I still harbor are about my calling, not about myself. (It’s incredibly liberating, just to realize that.) I’ve been through a lot and I’ve come through a lot; I know who God is and I think I know who I am. I want to test and push and experiment. I’m ready to be challenged by a community that will be discerning with me. I want that, even. I’m not afraid of the idea of people knowing who I am, anymore.

A friend affirmed this in the car, the other night, on our way to an Advent liturgy that a group of us is doing in the East Bay. She said, “You’ve done your time. You’re ready to do a different kind of time, now.” She also said she was glad our priest had talked me into realizing that. That wasn’t my take on our conversation; it felt like we were sort of chatting about how everything was going, and I asked the question, “Now what?” We both knew what my intentions were, but I did need to be the one to say them. And I did, and I could, and I’m here. I’m both grounded, and bouncing nearly out of my skin.

This means three important things:

1) I have a spiritual home that I’m safe and happy in;
2) I’m on the right road, and people besides myself can see it;
3) I’m really ready to be open to God, my community, and my own heart.

Alleluia, amen.