Thursday, October 27, 2005

theology quiz

theology quiz

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.

Emergent/Postmodern 79%
Roman Catholic 64%
Neo orthodox 61%
Modern Liberal 54%
Classical Liberal 50%
Charismatic/Pentecostal 50%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 39%
Reformed Evangelical 7%
Fundamentalist 0%

What's your theological worldview?
created with

it's fun. i had to wikipedia some of the things they referred to in the quiz but it was neat. and now it's official, i'm an emergent church/postmodern.

Sr. M.A.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

salvation contemplation

i have been thinking a lot this week about my understanding of salvation. i met with my rector yesterday and talked with him about it. i need to schedule an appointment with my spiritual director as well, an 80-something year old nun from the community of the holy spirit.
my priest had some interesting insights about looking more to the small "s" salvations that happen during a lifetime, al-anon being one for me, that certainly saved my life. i've had other experiences of small "s" salvation as well.
in talking with him i articulated my two understandings about sin. intellectually, i understand sin to be the delusional belief that we are separated from god and then we act out in that belief and that f's things up really amazingly. i believe that christ and other religious or spiritual traditions work to help us get past that fallacy. through al-anon, i turn my will and my life over to god on a daily basis, several times a day in fact.
i get to talk about god and my personal experience of god in al-anon, in ways that i can't do at church. i get to act out that experience of god in church, which i can't do in al-anon as it's a spiritual program, not a religious one. in monastic orders you get to do both.
in my heart of hearts though, i can't get past my belief that sin is bad, a part of me that's bad. i go to confession once a year at holy week and it's always a gut-wrenching experience because it's so tied up in this belief that there is something bad in me. on a personal level, this comes from messages i got from a very crazy family member when i was really young and they are so internalized, i don't know that in my whole lifetime i will really get completely though that. but, there's something traditional and archetypal about it as well. the church kept people under control by selling them the idea that we were intrinsically bad and needed saving and only jesus does that and you need to go through the church to get that salvation. and of course, women are lower than men and "worse" and need salvation big time, salvation according to the european, patriarchal church. my church is not like that, i am not like that but the hangover of that ancient idea exists in chrisitianity today.
i am turning this all over to god. i'm working with god to loosen up these historical hysterical beliefs and get to peel a layer off the onion and get to know god in a closer way.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"doing church"

i just went to a conference at the cathedral ofst. john the divine which is for clergy and regular episcogeeks like me in the laity. the topic headings were admin and finance, altar guild, church growth, communications, life-long learning, mission, music and liturgy, parish dynamics, stewardship, just to name a few! it was a good day and got me really thinking about stuff i hadn't expected to think about.
the first panel i went to was on the church's 2020 movement pertaining to people in their 20's and 30's specifically. the panel consisted of several cradle episcopalians and two or three converts from other christian traditions. an older priest asked why the panel didn't include any 20's/30's people who are unchurched - people who grew up with no faith tradition or practice at all. the answer was that the people in parishes that the panel members knew who were unchurched were not firm enough or confident enough in their place in the episcopal church to speak on a panel.
i mentioned that the first two to three weeks after sept. 11, 2001, our church was packed to the gills with people from the neighborhood - mostly in their 20's and 30's. after those intial two to three weeks they just didn't return.
if you go to starbucks or barnes and noble cafe or a yoga class on sundays at 11 a.m. you will find them packed with people in their 20's and 30's - both churched and unchurched! i do believe that everyone is a spiritual being and that many people are wandering around on their own, looking for a spiritual home. in what ways is the episcopal church not providing that? how can we provide that?
i talked for a bit with the older priest who had attended the panel about the point he made during the q & a part. he said he became involved with the church when he was young because he it met his idealism, it gave him a place to act that out. he also wanted something bigger than himself. it made me think of the episcopal church during the civil rights movement. that was a church where an idealistic young man could really plug in. i told this priest afterwards that i'm not so sure this generation (x and y?) is idealistic. i think we're cynical and mistrusting of large institutions. i talked to him a bit about episcopal blogging and the emerging church and post-modernism and - i totally lost him.
one thing he said really has been buzzing in my brain - i mentioned that i think this generation is searching for spirituality and self-improvement, that we are focused on ourselves but not in a "me generation" totally selfish way, in a "how can i become a better human being?" way. the priest said, "yeah, but that's what salvation is for." ah. now i get caught on the sticky concept of salvation.
this is where i put the alternative in sr. mary alternative.
what am i being saved from? what is the resurrection about? what is sin? i am so not clear on these concepts. i am not looking for pat answers, or i'd be a pentecostal and check my brain at the door. rather i am an episcopalian looking for new ways to approach these concepts. or maybe they are old ways that seem new to me. or different ways.
how does jesus dying on the cross absorb my sins? what is the real message of my faith tradition? that christ died for my sins? that god is love? that i can be redeemed and/or saved by pledging myself to christ. who do i worship for that matter? christ or god? i believe in the trinity but when i pray, i gotta tell you, i pray to god. i may ask god to send her holy spirit into me or a situation, but i pray to god.
i'm still trying to figure out all this stuff about post-modernism and the emerging church, it's still a little confusing to me. maybe that's where i'm heading with all this. i don't know. i really would appreciate your comments and esp. refer any books, magazines, websites, media that relate to any of these topics i have mentioned.

Friday, October 14, 2005

"th" words

i teach 2nd grade esl in queens and i gave a homework assignment - write 5 words that start with "th." most kids wrote words like, "the, that, this, they ..."
one kid wrote, "theology."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

st. francis day

we celebrated st. francis day at my church, holy trinity this past sunday. we have a special tradition of blessing animals. people from all over the neighborhood bring their pets to be blessed. people always think that nyc is no place for a dog. apartments are small. most people are at work all day and a dog needs to be outdoors a lot. i once heard a stand-up wondering why he chooses to live in a way not fit for a dog!
but for every third new yorker, there is a dog. and in the upper east side it's an even higher ratio. i think here there are two dogs for every human! when i'm not home, my dog sleeps. that's it. i once moved from a two bedroom to a studio and i had two big dogs. i thought, how will they manage in a small space? and then i realized, dogs are always in the same room with their human. it's not like they're off wandering around the east wing or something. it worked out just fine.
i can't tell you how packed our church is on st. francis day with all those upper east siders and their pets. dogs, cats, turtles, birds, ferrets, pictures of pets who either can't leave home or have died. it's amazing. and you know, they all quiet down after the initial hub-bub of the procession. animals really like church. our church is kind of dark, so that's soothing for former cave dwelling dogs and for the birds.
i brought my dog, music. normally my mother would be with music in the pews and i would acolyte. there's a run on teens at my church so acolytes are mostly adults. i've been acolyting since i was 12. it got my interested in church (i get to wear a costume and look like an angel and everyone is looking at me! cool!) and i've enjoyed being an active part of the liturgy ever since. now that my mother is gone, i thought i would bring music to acolyte with me. after all, we have dog ushers on st. francis day and now that music is a dog of a certain age, she is mellow enough to handle it. she's certainly used to church. we are allowed to bring our dogs to church any sunday, for most services, so i bring her a lot.
soon as i get the one picture someone took for me ( i forgot my own camera!) i'll post it. i found a child's cotta (sp?) and put it over music's head and pulled her paws through the arm holes so she could be "vested". she looked so freakin' cute! i always thought i'd have kids who would become acolytes at holy trinity so this is the next best thing. mommy's little acolyte! i'm so proud.
st. francis is such a cool saint. i don't know much about him, i know there are st. francis fans out there who know him backwards and forwards. i just dig what he said about preach the gospels, use words if necessary. and the st. francis prayer kicks butt.
Lord, make us instruments
of your peace.
Where there is hatred
let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not
so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood
as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving
that we receive;
It is in pardoning
that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are
born to eternal life.