Tuesday, September 17, 2013

If you are one of my students and you googled me ...

mazel tov! You found me.
I recently started a job teaching high school and I suddenly thought tonight, "My students might google me!" There aren't a lot of Jennifer Goodnows out there (I did send friend requests to all the ones on Facebook and got two confirmations) so the kids will find this pretty easily. I always wonder if potential bosses will find it and what they will think. Anyway, I decided I'd better read through the old posts to make sure the blog is "kid friendly" which it is. The whole separation of church and state being another issue altogether.
One of the kids asked me the other day if I believe in God. I thought long and hard about that and I'm still working on it.
Here's what I've got so far.
I have outgrown the theology I was taught as a child. It was appropriate and simplified for children but that Jesus (hippie guy who likes children and lambs) is not the complicated, radical child of God that I know Jesus to be now. Also, God is way more complex when your theology grows up.
I think most people don't move beyond their childhood theology. This is for a few reasons, one being that most people are not as into religion as I or others like me are. I am not into sports and don't know anything beyond the basic rules for playing games and I never wanted to play them in school (and still don't).
I believe that God is far less personified than I used to. I don't think God is a beardy man in the sky. I think God is a force that works for good.
I believe in love, compassion, kindness. That is what I wish to practice, more so than liturgy these days.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

From Nun to None

þ Nun
þ None

One of the things I was looking forward to as a nun was the opportunity to pray in communion several times a day – the Daily Office. I also thought it would be interesting to experiment a little with liturgy. I’ve seen orders that use the New Zealand prayer book or work out some special liturgy of their own.
I went to visit a convent in Swaziland run by the Order of the Holy Paraclete, which has its main house in England. I spent two weeks with a great sister and we talked, I asked questions, she answered, we debated theology with others – really amazing. In the course of our talking Sr. Carol said to me that as fewer women were entering religious orders they were going to eventually leave Swaziland and turn the running of the orphanage over to the local people. Makes sense that, rather than a bunch of old white ladies telling black people how to run an orphanage they should train locals and leave the raising of Swazi orphans to them. Sr. Carol told me that if I entered OHP now I’d live in England, do administrative work, and take care of old nuns. I cannot thank her enough for her honesty because all three of those were the exact opposite of what I wanted to do! I said to her at one point, if fewer and fewer women are entering the convent, then who will be there to take care of me? Or would I be the last nun standing? She replied honestly I could be the last nun standing. I envisioned myself freezing my old ass off in an NHS nursing home in northern England. No. Thank. You.
The other thing that Sr. Carol said was people bemoan the state of religious orders because they are shrinking but the work that nuns and monks used to do, governments and NGOs do that now. She said the Holy Spirit has something new in mind for the church and I believe her.
A year or so after that I started going to an emerging church called St. Lydia’s. It was in the Lower East Side at the beginning of its ministry and now is in Brooklyn. The Eucharist is set around a dinner, like the early church. People cook the meal, serve the meal, eat, talk, break bread, drink wine in remembrance of Christ. I became fairly active in that church and made a lot of new friends. St. Lydia’s moved to Brooklyn and I kept going for a year but the commute was worse than my daily work schlep and a few other factors made it less appealing for me to go.
I am now in a stage of not going to church. I don’t miss it at all which surprised me at first. I’ve been going to church my entire life. I don’t miss Eucharist, which is a big deal to Episcopalians. We take it weekly normally and daily at best. I definitely don’t miss volunteering. My job feels like a community service so I don’t need church to fill that aspect of my life. What really surprised me is that I don’t miss community. I tried a new church about six months ago and the very first thought that popped into my head as I walked in the door was, I don’t want to make new community. Huh. Maybe at this stage in my life I have enough?
They say that once you’ve seen how the sausage is made you can’t eat it anymore. That’s the institutional church for me. Institutional church so doesn’t do it for me now.

I think I’m becoming a “none” as in the box I’d check on a form that asked my religious affiliation.
I believe in God. I believe in Christ. I believe in compassion for my brothers and sisters.
I practice love, compassion, mindfulness to the best of my ability.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Two Types of Prayers

Someone once told me there are two types of prayers. “Help me, help me, help me.” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I pray the former quite a lot and then have to remind myself to pray the latter after my issue is resolved.
I think some of us have a hard time praying the help me part. In America we are taught to be independent, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, you can do anything if you just work hard enough, you can be the President of the United States of America. I’m not sure how many of us are taught at home and in our religious houses to surrender our wills to God.
I have learned over the years to pray for help. That requires that I come to the point where I admit I can’t do it all by myself and I need help! It used to take a lot of pain to get me to that point. Fortunately, I recognize the signs earlier and ask for help a lot quicker these days, bypassing a ton of trouble.
What I’m practicing now is asking for help in a different way. I used to ask God for help, and then tell God exactly how to help me. Can you imagine the arrogance? I used to pray for a specific outcome!
Now I’m still asking for help, but these days I mean the willingness to  accept whatever God has in store for me. I found that when I stopped praying for specific outcomes and started praying for resolutions, God’s solution was so much more elegant than my own!
The next time you are in a bad situation, ask God for help. And that’s all. Just help, whatever that looks like. See what happens (also, have the patience to wait for the resolution, God’s time is not what our time is). Take note of the outcome. Set it as a precedent and remember it the next time you have a problem.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Back in the saddle again

I saw a job posting in the writing section of craigslist that was looking for a blog writer for a pastor. I am not a pastor but I can certainly write that way and I submitted a sample. I decided that if I didn't get the job, I would start posting on my own blog. It's good writing practice and it might help me with my spiritual journey which is stopped at a truck stop somewhere. I will write on a regular basis starting with this (this is the sample I submitted).

 Across a Crowded Room …
Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see him
Again and again.
Once you have found him,
Never let him go.
From South Pacific by Rogers and Hammerstein

Most of us living in New York City are looking for love. Even if we tell all our friends we are done looking, we’re still looking. We scan faces on the subway, at a party, at the office, thinking, “Is this the one?” Some of us may even be in a committed relationship or married but still looking for love!

 What I’m going to suggest may sound … weird to you. But, hear me out. Instead of looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend to “complete” you, look for God. Let the love of God “complete” you. If you feel there is something in your life that is lacking, that is God’s way of telling you, “Here I am! Across a crowded room!” 

And that room is crowded! It’s crowded with all sorts of distractions we use to avoid God; work, friends, family commitments, the gym, Facebook, Pinterest, Saturday night out with friends. But God loves you and is calling to you. It might not seem to you that God is calling to you. But get beyond the racket of that “crowded room” and listen. You will hear God in a whisper, a persistent whisper. And what God is saying, over and over again in that whisper is, “I love you.”

God has a plan for your life. God held your hand through the hard times of your past. God is with you right now. God is waiting for you in your future. God is looking forward to you uncovering the great plan that is just for you. But, you can’t do it on your own. You need God’s help and God is always willing to help.

 I suggest you say to God, “I’m listening! Take my hand and guide me to the life you have in store for me. I’m willing, with your help. I love you, too.”

 Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

lydia, oh lydia, oh, have you seen lydia?

so, i'm realizing a whole lotta things all at once which is pretty flippy trippy.
1. it's looking like i am not going to be a nun in the traditional sense.
2. this should not surprise me as i am not an altogether traditional person.
3. it did surprise me at first, but i am getting my head wrapped around it.
4. when i was in swaziland, staying with sr. carole at ohp's orphanage, she told me that convents around the world are getting smaller with fewer and fewer women entering them but that it's ok. god has god's seasons and maybe the holy spirit has something else in mind for the church now. something new. she reminded me that when the anglican church started seeing a grass roots building up of religious orders in the mid-19th century, the holy spirit was guiding that. now, governments do the work that nun used to do. ngo's do that work.
5. once i got back from swaziland i was faced with something i had been putting to the back of my mind b/c i was so focused on getting to africa. something that had been bothering me a lot lately and this is it: i stopped going to church b/c i was burned out on over-extending myself there. i missed the eucharist though. this summer i went to mid-day eucharist services at big churches and the cathedral. i have been in the episcopal church my whole life. i went to catholic school as well which is similar in liturgy. all of a sudden, the mass was starting to look silly to me. a man or woman wearing a ridiculous poncho thingy whose origins were ancient and useless today, waving his or her hands over the magic goblet and cookies. the whole eucharist was starting to look like harry potter to me. i definitely wasn't feeling the presence of christ. i wasn't seeing the connection between this and christ's message of love, integrity, hope. instead, i was getting caught up in the show and flash.
-allow me to interrupt myself to say this is strictly a personal experience. i am not saying that the eucharist is silly or the traditions of the episcopal or catholic church. it's just not working for me anymore.
6. i've started going to an emerging church in alphabet city. it's called st. lydia's and the service is - we cook a large dinner. we meet in the narthex (st. lydia's rents space from a lutheran church) and sing plain chant. we go to the sanctuary where dinner tables are set up. an ordained person blesses the bread (a delicious baguette) and we all pass it around. we eat dinner together. once we are done eating, we read a bible passage aloud. the person in charge for the day gives a mini-sermon on the passage. we share our understanding of the passage. we hold up our wine glasses at the end of the meal and the wine is blessed. and that's communion. it's an agape meal, like the one the early church people used to have. it's intimate, personal, community. it's lovely. sometimes it's messy and scruffy, just like christ and his followers. i'm really enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i had to post this link a lady-priest friend of mine posted on her facebook page.

top ten reasons why men shouldn't be ordained

Monday, September 21, 2009


i just took that belief-o-matic quiz on beliefnet.com and came up a unitarian universalist ... AGAIN! i took the quiz for the first time several years ago and my results were similar. episcopalian didn't even come up in my list as also rans.
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (93%)
3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (88%)
4. Liberal Quakers (88%)
5. New Age (87%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (86%)
7. New Thought (83%)
8. Hinduism (79%)
9. Theravada Buddhism (79%)
10. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (77%)

good think i'm an episcopalian! there's plenty of room for people like me in the episcopal church.