roamin' catholic: karin rosner

Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

ImageI pulled on my favorite purple sweater this morning  in solidarity with my Anglican brothers and sisters in England where the General Synod voted on a measure to admit women to the episcopate.
I was shocked when I glanced at my newsfeed while munching my lunch and learned that the measure failed, stalled effectively by lay votes. We mostly knew how the clergy and bishops would vote, but the lay people made the news this afternoon.
I snuck more glances to check the reaction from women clergy, female ordinands training in seminary, my American women friends who are Episcopal Priests, my British friends who are Church of England Priests…

Ugh. The pain. Wow.

I do know some of this gut-wrenching pain. Questioning my growed-up-in church’s teachings on women’s role in ministry and the church opened up my mind to eventually consider the questions offered by the Reformation, and it was conversations with an American Episcopal Bishop (who was key in pushing for ordination reform ) that eventually led me inside a denomination that baptized women and admitted them to all levels of Holy Orders. I eventually fell in with a bunch of rowdy Evangelical and/or Charismatic Low Church Episcopalians who affirm women’s ministries and the call to ordination.  I am one of them now. Still, there are certain women serving in the Episcopate in my church who consistently drive me back to the Bible because I question the content of their teaching.  Is there anything in what they are saying that rings true with my understanding of Scripture? This discernment happens with the male bishops’ preaching and teaching, too. I am an equal opportunity lay discerner.
So what next, C of E? I mentioned the pain I noted; I saw Tweets calling for dissent and leaving… as if the whole church was against women… that Britain would crumble because the members of the church voted with one sexist discriminatory voice.

Consider this: I think, that unlike other churches with a top-down structure, that God will work with all of the members of the Church to get this call-to-ministry done right, to hurt the least amount of people in the process of radical change, even if there is a “no” vote now. The evangelical charismatic in me sees God’s Holy Spirit at work in this surprising no,  even though I live across the Atlantic divide. It’s not a final no, it’s a no, not yet, but eventually.
I think, for as many reasons why a yes vote could’ve worked with God’s grace active through the church, God’s grace will be equally active in this period of continued questioning and listening, not just to internal voices but from world Anglican voices as well.

I think too, that nearly five hundred years on from the Anglican Communion’s birth through the Protestant Reformation in England, it might be high time for another movement of reform in the churches conceived both in high-minded holy zeal and human sin. Will anyone pray with me, “Come Holy Spirit?”

ImageWhat you will need: 100 OREO cookies, 1 toothpick, 1 huge glass of milk

Step 1: Disassemble the OREO. Place the lid to the side.

Step 2: Using your toothpick like a pen, write “Happy Birthday” in the creamy middle.

Step 3: LICK the center cream off the OREO. (No other way of eating OREO cookies is allowed today. )

Step 4: Dunk the chocolate  OREO lid in the milk and consume  gobble.

Step 5: Repeat until all of the OREO cookies are gone.

You are allowed to share, but would you, really? I mean, really?

Author’s note: the first part of this overly- long musing on my favorite holiday and why I think that boycotting it is a Satanic plot against Christendom can be found here.

Dealing with death is a part of life. There is not one person, religious or atheist, who can escape the cold, hard facts that our hearts are going to stop beating one day, and our brains will stop a short time later, and we will know that we are dying. Universally, cultures do something to take a long hard look at where we all will end up. The recently-late Steve Jobs, whose ghost probably will be a popular Halloween costume this year, said this about the secular, absolute truth in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Marching across a historic Victorian cemetery in the misty October moonlight, I’m absolutely aware of the history and origins of the day. Samhain is a tricky Celtic festival that some say involves ritual banishing of the evil spirits that pass through the thin places, when the worlds of fairy and human were at their closest. I’m aware too, of the remembrances of the dead in the celebration of the Christian festivals of All Saints and All Souls. Elaborate folk-religious festivals like Mexico’s Day of the Dead have evolved from these older traditions.

The modern expression of Halloween, in the United States and increasingly around the globe, is cultural theater that remains rooted in religious folk tradition… and that’s a great thing. For all its big money and merchandizing, the holiday still belongs to the actors. Kids and grown-up kids play out the battles of good vs evil and life vs death through costumes, masks and play. You can be a ghost in your mom’s white bed sheets (so very retro-chic) or be a superhero as you choose your part in the drama for just one night of the year. I personally don’t understand the costume choices of the cute bunnies, princesses, and ballerinas (unless they are Rabbits of Death, Princess Dianas or Isadora Duncans showing up at my door), but positive costuming is a legitimate personal or parental choice.

Unfortunately, in cultures that have divorced any spiritual meaning from the day, the spin-offs from mainstream Halloween can fall under evil’s spell. In the US, Mischief Night on October 30 can be more frightening than the scary costumes hanging on the racks in the big box stores. The night’s vandalism and petty crime vex community leaders and keep the police working hard in many urban areas. Without a spiritual anchor, Halloween loses its ability to mock evil and instead, glorifies it. The satanic and evil are expressed through crime, mindlessly violent entertainment, and soft-core pornographic expression. While ritual crime is rare (and not perpetrated by the Wiccan teenager in your local high school or the modern vampire living down the street), Halloween tends to see some sort of occult-related crime reported somewhere.

Now, back to the Christian problem of dealing with Halloween…

In first part of my ramblings, I isolated two approaches to the problem of Halloween with a little bit of snarky humor, looking at human behavior and culture through Law and Grace. When sincere Christians experience confusion, they lose sight of how the two work together, and Christians are fed a malnourished spiritual diet of human judgment, superstition, works-righteousness and fear. We’re urged to “do” things or not do things in order to earn righteousness and grace, and become a good or better Christian. It’s tempting to isolate our Good Christian Selves into little holier-than-thou bubbles to remain pure. Being God’s Chosen becomes a job on the task list: the task is all up to us first; to be a follower of Christ is our decision and our choice, and then we tack on a prayer to the Holy Spirit to make us holy, Amen. When we inevitably fail to live up to the Christian culture’s rules of the moment, we are not Christian enough. We are judged by the imperfect understanding of human beings who think they know it all. This is the human side of the Law, and our experience as Christians on a journey from the Old Testament into the New tells us that the Law indeed exists and we are still under it. It not only effects us physically through death, it also kills us spiritually as an effect of sin through God’s application of Law (Judgement), but God did something dramatically different during one moment in history that changed the game.

The historic Christian faith tells us that God commuted our death sentence; changed our history through a tremendous mystery of the Atonement. Jesus Christ, the living word of God made human, was conceived, born, suffered and died a horrific, painful death on a cross, somehow taking our abuses against the Law into Death itself, rose from the grave and is coming again. The person of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise of comfort and the seal of the bond between us messed up human beings and God himself. We are covered by Jesus saving action – salvation and justification through blood and death.

Okay, maybe this was a 33 year-long moment in the history of the universe, but we are still living into God’s promise that death is over and done for; our sins are covered in the only righteousness that really exists- Christ’s, not through anything that we have done or can do, but only through what Jesus has done and is still doing. It’s all God’s job to save us, not ours, no matter how much we may think or experience that we are making a decision to do or be a model Christian. We surrender to God’s salvation. We cannot earn it. We cannot grab it or choose it. We think or experience that we grasp it, but we’re really yielding to Divine Love. That’s Grace.

It’s easy to fall into a Christian trap that gives in to the all-too human pull to put ourselves first before God. This kind of thinking sucks us into our own earnestness, wanting to please God. Even this essay is skirting painfully close to (if not completely into) Law because I’m critiquing a whole segment of Christian culture that I disagree with and judge as spiritually unhealthy. We can’t avoid Law. Thank God for Grace.

So, while Christians can certainly choose not to participate in Halloween for any number of reasons, condemning and rejecting participation in Halloween as an idolatrous pagan insult against God, completely misunderstands what Halloween is all about. You can’t celebrate light without at least acknowledging the shadow. Participation in Halloween does not need to mean exalting Satan and the Demonic, or even giving the enemy any power at all. A redeemed Halloween is not cut off from the celebration of Gods work for all of us, and neither are the people who re-enact play battles of Good vs. Evil  and mock Death while dressed up as an adorably cute  4 year old vampire. The victory over death is recalled through the traditional feast of All Saints, which all too many Christians have forgotten all about. Halloween and All Hallows go together as they dance across the calendar nearly opposite to Good Friday and Easter.

To rightfully reach Easter and Christ’s resurrection from the dead, Christians must pass through the horror of Good Friday. To reclaim Halloween from misunderstanding, you’ve got to understand the Hallow, which is my task for Part the Third.

It was the eighties…”

So, like, yeah: over a period of about ten years from the late eighties and through the nineties, I was a spiritual thrill-seeker trying to find some kind of religious system that helped me control my very unstable world and unstable self. I had survived teenage cancer; I cheated death. I did not want to ever deal with death again. I turned to self-help and New Age techniques to stay healthy, and then I explored traditional and nontraditional religious systems of the East and the West. I was deeply drawn into the extremely diverse world of modern neo-paganism, particularly getting involved with feminist spirituality, Goddess religion and Wicca. There’s more to modern witchcraft than the practice of the occult: Wicca is a multi-layered spiritual subculture of religious practice (or none), politics (or apathy), philosophy (always) and spirituality (or even agnosticism/ atheism) that almost defies a strict definition. Wicca is an extremely disorganized structure placed lightly over chaos; it’s un-religion.

I had a spiritual experience during Spring 2000 that profoundly changed me, one that forced me to look at how unstable my life and my spiritual choices still were. It was a supernatural experience: Jesus found me, called my name and I was surprised as anyone when I found myself back in a Christian church. I discovered, not all at once but very gradually, that because I was in a secure friendship with the Creator of the Universe, I didn’t have a need to try and control the Universe anymore. I was profoundly safe, no matter what happened around me or to me… I had no more need to ritualize the problems in my life to deal with them (what the practice of modern magick really does is psychological moreso than metaphysical), I was beginning to live in real freedom, living into an authentically deeper magical life,  living in the absolute Source of all creation. I beleive that the only way to get to that Source, i.e. God, is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I finally understood, sort of, who Jesus Christ was, I tossed away the Tarot Cards and rune stones, got rid of books, journals, and ritual tools. I engaged in one more meaninful, personal ritual. I shed what was dark and psychologically superstitious, and physically burned up lots of expensive stuff in a Weber Grill … but …

There’s still something left over of the authentic, original me that’s always been a part of me… the me who is the story-teller, the day-dreamer, the weaver of tall-tales and screenplay ideas….

There’s still a monster under my bed that gives some of my Christian brothers and sisters the shivers.

I still love horror and dark fantasy. Chill me, thrill me, fulfill me with a scary story, or even better, a scary story that’s also wickedly funny. Genre literature, film and music turns our modern Western culture on its head, and examines its underbelly through a creatively warped lens. This is why I still love a classic American Halloween. Bring on the candy, toffee apples, dress-up, spooks, ghouls and goblins. Give me Zombies and brains served in a silver domed dish. Cover me in face paint and Kensington Gore. Tempt me with jack-o-lanterns, battery-operated flashing light satan horns and tails. Ply me with scary movie marathons, and ghost stories told around bonfires and fireplaces. Let me dress more Goth than I usually do. Give me a bowl full of Candy Corn, my black cat and lots of TV reruns of The Addams Family and The Munsters back to back, and I will be happy. Throw in repeats of Bewitched, and I will kiss you.

There are a couple of fundamentally different American Christian approaches to handling Halloween.

One approach proclaims Grace: it embraces a redeemed human creative culture and encourages having family-oriented fun, even while remembering the story of the Fall. It recalls saints, sinners, and recognizes that there’s a few billion of us human beings still alive, caught in between heaven and hell, dealing with scary situations in the theater of our lives.

The second approach proclaims Law: it embraces the superstitious, sinister edge of Halloween and feeds off of fear of the occult and effectively says, “thou shalt not eat candy corn that has been sacrificed to idols lest thy daughter become a witch, and thou shalt hide your toilet paper lest thy offspring get ideas about how might wreak havoc on thy neighbors’ front porches… oh and hide thy garden hose too, lest they wet the toilet paper strewn across thy neighbors’ elms and oaks and make the mess worse…. “

Summing up a little background holiday theology: Halloween, the Eve of All Hallows (also known as the Feast of All Saints) is a secular day in American culture that deals with sin and death. It’s a day cut off from its origins. What All Saints and All Souls Days were, celebrations of God’s saving power through Christ in the lives of us human beings, are now only remembered in certain segments of American Christianity. Christians know that through Christ’s Resurrection, we are ultimately set free from the pain of sin and death. Easter should cancel out our culture’s folk-religious need for Halloween, but yet… it doesn’t. We  still have a real need  to deal with death through our culture in a way that traditional Christianity isn’t very good at handling. We use secular culture’s storytelling, including Halloween and Horror,  to take a look at what terrifies us.

To be continued…

Steve Jobs is now joking with Douglas Adams about putting Wikipedia on an iPad and writing ‘Don’t Panic’ on the case.” Ben Kuchera on Twitter 

There is so much I want to say this morning about the impact that Steve Jobs had on my personal creativity. The Mac has played a huge role in my life: writing on my MacBook brings me simple joy, the friendships I made and the leadership prep through my local Mac User Group back in the day are amazing memories,  the  little bit of income from the days when I was a retail product demo rep was so helpful, I ruined my knees crawling around creating AppleTalk networks when I was a Mac Guru (we’re talkin’ System 7, people)… I’ve got Apple in my DNA.  What’s striking and simpatico  about the tweet I’m re-sharing is that I felt the same deep sadness when Douglas Adams passed away, too… all too soon.

As a Christian, I pray that somehow, in a way that’s not obvious to the world, that Jesus and each of these guys came to a joyful agreement and I’ll get to meet both of these men in Heaven one day. Douglas Adams’ work seriously warped my sense of humor and made a skewed impact on how I view the world; Steve Jobs’ work gave me tools to express my warped sense of reality. I am so glad that they both spent time on this crazy little planet called Earth. I want to see the Guide as an iPad.

I was flipping through my 1979 Book of Common Prayer yesterday, the version I keep on my iPhone. I was running through the catechism on the way home at around 7 pm ET,  thinking about something completely different that had nothing to do with Apple.

Q: Why do we pray for the dead?

A: We pray for them, because we still hold them in love, and because we trust that in God’s presence, those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until we see him as he is.

So, we pray that in the fullness of God’s love through Christ, that Steve Jobs is resting in peace. We pray for Steve’s family and friends. We give thanks for Steve’s life and for the amazing gifts that flowed through one creative leader in our time. We forgive Steve for when he was angry, annoying, picky and controlling and hurt people’s feelings in the process of being insanely great. 😉 We hope that God has one more amazing thing in store.

Can I get an Amen?

RIP Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

The mosquitMosquitooes bit, and bit me good.

They feasted well and sucked my blood.

They tasted cheek, leg, hand, arm, and ear!

They lanced through my shield of underwear.

How they got past my jeans, I do not know.

I wish they did not love me so.

And now I itch, and scream, and scratch.

Against their hunger, hatred is no match.

– Karin Rosner (c. 2011)

Dear Facebook Universe:

I just had to do it. I took advantage of Facebook’s new settings. Beginning in Summer 2010, I suddenly got a hundreds of friend requests based on I’m not quite sure exactly what, and my online network connections shot up… but were they meaningful connections? I started taking a very careful look at my Facebook Friend Lists and pared down my connections to more manageable lists and more meaningful conversations.  Then, Facebook made some significant changes and what I believe are solid corrections to the “Friend” philosophy. Starting last Wednesday, when Facebook began rolling out the new changes, I’ve embraced what they’ve done.

If anyone is interested: here are some estimated numbers on the carnage:

  • I had 490 friends in total (down from a high of 600 in April 2011).
  • I dropped approximately 40 people down to subscriber mode over this past weekend (Sept 17-18, 2011) because I’ve never heard from them again after I accepted their friend request.
  • I’ve made good use of the “restricted”  and the “acquaintance” lists. These are great ideas.
  • I have an online-only connection with about 160 of you, and that includes  some key work relationships!
  • There are 290 people whom I personally know, or have at least shared some in-person conversations with over food and drinks.
  • There are some online-only friendships that are incredibly special to me, and I can’t wait until the day where I can meet some of you. I’m simply going to continue to ignore game announcements. 😉

I encourage subscriptions! They are turned on. If I like a page, I will subscribe back and from there we’ll see if friendship develops.

So, how are you reacting to the re-definition of “Facebook Friend”? Do you like the changes and are embracing them? Do the changes make you sad and are you still “friending and running” willy-nilly?  Comments are open!

– Karin


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