Just under a year ago, I posted to my Journal, I posted about my church's split, and my own personal split, with The Episcopal Church (or TEC, as they like to be known).
Recently, a friend who reads this journal asked me to "catch him up" on what's going on.
On a national/international scale, everything looks pretty chaotic. Lawsuits all over the place. The Big One is in Virginia, 11 churches leaving TEC involved, where David Booth Beers (Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop of TEC) testified that even if the National Church adopted a non-Christian faith and declared holy war on the United States, the Diocese did not have the authority to withdraw from the denomination. An interesting point of view to take. Oh, and according to TEC, there is no split in the church, because the General Convention has not formally recognized a split.
The Diocese of San Joaquin (California) has left TEC to join the Province of the Southern Cone until such time as TEC reforms or a new North American province is established, and even further north, some churches are starting to split from the Anglican Church in Canada.
As all of this goes on, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said "it would be unrealistic and ungrateful to expect more from TEC in terms of clarification." While Gene Robinson hasn't been invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the ABC is still open to him being there as a "non-participant", or a "guest". But the bishops who have been ordained for CANA, AMiA, and other "boundary-crossing" missions are still not invited. Never mind that Robinson's ordination was a major cause of the split, and CANA/AMiA/etc. are "emergency" responses to it. Violations of scriptural doctrine may apparently be overlooked, but violations of "boundaries" can't.
Locally, though, it's been an exciting time. Those of us who have left our old church have started All Saints Anglican Church. We met in a local school cafeteria for several months, and now, we're in a storefront space with a three-year lease. I was honored to serve on the search committee for a new priest, and Father Michael Fry joined us on All Saints Day of last year. His formal installation by Bishop David Anderson of CANA will be in two weeks. Our Sunday attendance lately has been in the range of 120-135. We've got a lot of active bible study, prayer, and outreach going on. Pretty good for a new church.
The members of our vestry were sued by the bishop of the church we left. Part of TEC's ongoing pattern of punishing orthodox dissenters via litigation. There was a lot of loud noise and threats, and I have heard that it got pretty ugly for a while, but in the end, all that happened was a fair split of the plate offerings from the two Sundays when "Anglicans" and "Episcopalians" were both claiming Saint Andrews. And now we're moving on to doing the real work we're called for: Spreading the Gospel, and serving in His name.
Medicare ripped off
Picked up from News of the Weird Daily. You know that saying, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free"? So true. They found an article in the New York Times about medical suppliers charging ripoff prices to Medicare, and politically blocking attempts to get those prices lowered through competitive bidding.
You want examples? Try $20 for an $11 walking cane, $8,280 for an oxygen machine and 3-yr supply [versus less than $4,000 at pharmacies], and $450 for a $108 penis pump). And did you know that Medicare spent a total of $21 million on penis pumps last year? And to think, some people say government spending is out of control....
Our government at work, ladies and gents.
Race and gender (and stupid news media)
Okay, first annoying thing: Thursday's front-page in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The online version of the article has a different headline, but the Best of the Web has a photo of the dead tree version.
"Should I Vote for OBAMA Because of My RACE? . . . or Vote for CLINTON Because of My GENDER?"
The article is about the Young Democrats of Spelman College.
And this morning, found from Drudge: An Alabama County Commissioner (who is apparently black, guessing from the context of the article) is voicing support for Hillary "mainly because she's white", and he thinks a black man can't win in this country.
Okay, second beef first. So maybe a black man can't win in this country. My glass-is-half-full self would like to think that maybe that's not the case these days. And even if it is the case, he still deserves support, if he is the best candidate for the job. Not based on whether or not he can win, but based on his personal qualification, and that's it. It's the same argument that keeps us in this two-party trap. "Because this guy can't win, I won't support him." Well, yeah, if you never support him, you're right, he'll never win. Self-fulfilling prophecies are great, aren't they?
Now, back to that Spelman thing. My wife is a Spelman grad. And she's not inclined to vote for either of them. She says it would be fantastic if a woman or a black person got to be President in this country, but only if they were qualified. If they got into office and made a mess of things, it would do more damage to women and black folks who maybe are qualified.
And notice: Neither one of those articles said anything about Hillary or Obama other than "he's black" and "she's a woman, but white". Nothing on the issues. Nothing on the qualifications, experience, or skeletons in the closet. Nothing useful. As if their physical qualities were the only thing useful in a decision to vote.
If I declared, in the media, that I was only going to vote for pale-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed men, because I'm a pale-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed man, can you guess what I would be called?
Real things are not simple
From Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis:
It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of--all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain--and, of course, you find that what we call 'seeing a table' lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of.
A child saying a child's prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not and the modern world usually is not--if you want to go on and ask what is really happening--then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made 'religion' simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time. Notice, too, their idea of God 'making religion simple'; as if 'religion' were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature.
Just something to remember next time a proud atheist depicts God as being some "Santa Claus in the sky". Not that such a thing would ever happen on slashdot, right?
Just can't watch an ad on TV for ECW without thinking about ECW.
Torn up about the Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church today is led by a Presiding Bishop who says that belief in Jesus as the God the Son, begotten before all worlds, being of one substance with God the Father, puts God in "a very small box".
The Atlanta Diocese of the Episcopal Church is led by a bishop who has said that the question of whether church doctrine is true or false is just a matter of opinion, that it's more important to have a popular opinion than an honest one, and by the way, any clergy under him who openly question his opinions will be kicked out of the church.
Oh, and if I criticize the Atlanta bishop's approval of Gene Robinson as bishop, people will automatically call me a homophobe. Even if my complaints aren't about his sexuality, but rather, about how politics overrode any other questions about his qualifications.
Long story short: I am no longer an Episcopalian. The overwhelming majority of the parish at St. Andrews-in-the-Pines has decided to sever ties with The Episcopal Church. We're joining the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion as a missionary outreach of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. In doing so, we're leaving behind a beautiful church property. The church I've called home for about 2/3 of my life. The church where I worked on several Eagle Scout projects, including my own. The church where I was a wise man in the Christmas pageant one year.
It's been a tough day.
What's been goin' on
So, I didn't end up getting a new job... but surprise surprise, things worked out. Shortly after that journal post of mine, it was announced that my employer was getting bought by a major banking corporation. An upgrade in pay, benefits, holidays, the whole nine yards. Pretty much everything I was looking for in a new job, short of a commute improvement, and there's rumors that this may happen within the year, as well.
I'm happy enough to wait it out here for a while. Not the first time God has given me just what I prayed for in the last way I would've expected. And to think: If any of the interviews I did have had panned out, I wouldn't have this tuition reimbursement thing I've been itching for. As soon as this wedding is past, I'm gonna seriously work on getting into a Masters program.
Asking Slashdot: Looking for a step up
They say it's not what you know, but who you know.
So, I'm putting what I know out there, and hoping that someone out there who I know can help.
I'm looking for a job upgrade. Better salary, hopefully better commute, and a change of pace from where I've been the past 5 years.
My resume is here.
Highlights: Graduated from Georgia Tech in 2001 with a B.S. in Computer Engineering. Worked through college as a co-op student for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. Currently working for a company that helps hospitals out with billing Medicare patient insurance. So, yeah, I know HIPPA, ANSI 835/837, and all that other stuff.
I know more about Visual Basic for Applications than anyone should ever have to. I've worked with run-of-the-mill Visual Basic, too. Clipper and XBase are also on my list of strong languages. I've been working a lot with moving dBase applications over to MySQL lately. I can read Perl, believe it or not. Also, I've been practicing a bit with PHP and XML. The coursework at GA Tech prepared me to learn any new language quickly: Hand me a programming environment with which I am completely unfamiliar, and I'll be debugging in a week, improving the code in two weeks, and writing completely new stuff before you know it.
I'm especially practiced at data mining, data archiving, and automated data analysis. I'm a puzzle-solver. I jump at challenges. I'm responsible for the creation of a huge number of handy little push-one-button applications around the office for those tedious little repetitive tasks that several of my co-workers never thought to do any way other than the hard-way.
Also, I am an Eagle Scout.
I'm living in the Atlanta area right now, but I'll be glad to move to anywhere a good job will take me.
So, anyone got any leads?
That D&D quiz
Neutral Good Gnome Ranger Bard
Follower Of Baervan Wildwanderer
Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.
Gnomes are also short, like dwarves, but much skinnier. They have no beards, and are very inclined towards technology, although they have been known to dabble in magic, too. They tend to be fun-loving and fond of jokes and humor. Some gnomes live underground, and some live in cities and villages. They are very tolerant of other races, and are generally well-liked, though occasionally considered frivolous.
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.
Baervan Wildwanderer is the Neutral Good gnomish god of forests, travel, and nature. He is also known as the Masked Leaf. His avatar is always accompanied by an intelligent, giant raccoon, named Chiktikka Fastpaws. His followers, like him, enjoy the outdoors and work to protect it and guard those who also enjoy it. Their preferred weapon is the halfspear.
Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXX (7)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXX (9)
Chaos --- XXXXXXX (7)
Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (20)
Neutral - XXXXXX (6)
Evil ---- (-3)
Human ---- XXX (3)
Half-Elf - XXXX (4)
Elf ------ XXX (3)
Halfling - (-1)
Dwarf ---- (0)
Half-Orc - (-1)
Gnome ---- XXXXXXXX (8)
Fighter - XX (2)
Ranger -- XXXXXXX (7)
Paladin - (0)
Cleric -- XX (2)
Mage ---- (-1)
Druid --- (0)
Thief --- (-4)
Bard ---- XXXXXXX (7)
Monk ---- XXXX (4)
"Compromise" with Hezbollah
Brilliant comment heard from Boortz on the radio today. Paraphrased due to the fact that I was working when I heard it.
For everyone who says we need to work out a compromise to end the fighting in Lebanon: Hezbollah's stated objective is the destruction of Israel and death for all Jews. Israel's objective is to not be destroyed. How can anyone possibly come up with a compromise between these goals? Do we allow Hezbollah to only kill half of the Jews? Or do we just chop an arm and a leg off of each Israeli citizen?
What I did on my vacation
Just got back from a weekend with my bride-to-be in Orlando.
Saturday morning: Drove down, and stopped on the way to buy dinner show tickets, and to shop at a discount book sale. Ahhh, books! Yes, I'm a rabid bibliophile. Got there late in the afternoon, and checked into the hotel, which I'd found at Hotwire for quite a bargain. Turns out the reason it was a bargain was that the hotel was in the midst of renovations. Didn't mind the pool being closed, we wouldn't have used it anyway. We did mind the damp carpets on our floor from the construction people hitting a pool supply line. Good news, they moved us up a floor without a fuss. Overall, the staff did everything they could to rise above the circumstances. Had dinner in, took a walk, basically rested the rest of the evening.
Sunday: After a late and leisurely breakfast, headed out to the Lakeridge Winery. Didn't know Florida was in the wine business, did you? Neither did I. Turns out they've got quite a flourishing company, making wines from muscadine grapes and hybrids. After a free tour and wine tasting, we bought a case of various wines (Cuvee Blanc, Cuvee Noir, and Southern Red) and some bottles of muscadine juice, and headed back to the hotel.
That evening, we went out to the Arabian Nights dinner show. The magician was great, the food was delicious, and the horses and riders were amazing! A tip: There's this place that advertises themselves as the Orlando Vacation Bureau, with a trailer-sized office about 5 hours north of Orlando on I-75 which sells tickets for this show and most other theme-ish events at a discount. They'll want to sign you up for a 90-minute sales pitch, but you can still get a discount without the pitch.
Monday: Weather turned foul, spent most of the day resting. Bride got a call from a theatrical improv outfit she's worked with lately asking desperately if she can show up for a gig on Tuesday at 8am. The tough part, she's still got an audition to do at 6:30pm Monday evening, kinda the excuse for the whole trip. After discussing it, we decide it's well worth an overnight drive, especially since we can spend the rest of the day resting. So, at about midnight, we got up, checked out of the hotel, and started driving. I dropped her off at her gig early, made it the rest of the way home, got the wine inside, and crashed in bed.
And now I'm home again.
[Elections] - Georgia Primary, Lt. Governors
Now, the candidates to replace Mark Taylor as Lt. Governor:
Casey Cagle , Republican
Flashy web site, other than that, not too much that impresses me.
Ralph Reed , Republican
Ex-chairman of the Christian Coalition, Washington insider, and so on. Controversy follows him around like his shadow.
Greg K. Hecht , Democrat
His basic message seems to be, "I'm qualified, and I can win". He does seem to be big on fighting oil prices by persecuting the oil providers, and that includes anti-price-gouging laws, which are just dumb economics.
Griffin Lotson , Democrat
His web site tells me that he's good at getting his picture taken with other people, and not much else.
Jim Martin , Democrat
His big priority seems to be increasing state spending on medicine. I've said before and I'll say again, what the medical industry needs is to become a more customer-oriented business, with the doctor's customer being the patient, not Medicaid or Medicare or an insurance provider.
Steen "Newslady" Miles , Democrat
Her web site gives the usual list of what she wants to address and why she thinks it's important, but not a glimmer of how. I have yet to find the nitty-gritty.
Rufus O. Terrill , Democrat
Finally, he doesn't seem like a nutcase, and he has actual ideas on his web site. Not all of them are agreeable, but just the fact that he has them is something. I like his ideas on school choice. I don't like his ideas on health care, but then, I don't like anyone's ideas on health care so far.
Not as many entertaining nutcases as the Governor's race.
Update: Apparently Cagle is considered somewhat of an underdog against Ralph Reed, and I do like voting for underdogs. And then there's eglamkowski's analysis of their debate....
[Elections] - Georgia Primary, Governors
Just some notes on who's running for what in the Georgia primaries next Tuesday, to help my own decision-making. If any other Georgia dotters out there have any insight, please, speak up.
So, what I've got here is first impressions from their web sites, and what I know about each of them.
Ray McBerry , Republican challenger.
His web site has an animated gif of a golden cross in the upper left, and an animated gif of the "stars and bars" Georgia flag in the upper right. He wants another vote on the state flag. Personally, I think that issue should've died a long time ago. The Ten Commandments are also a big issue for him, which is another red flag for me. It's not that I personally have any problem with a display of the Ten Commandments, but rather, it seems to me that a lot of those who are so enthusiastically for such displays are showboating.
Sonny Perdue , Republican incumbent
He's the incumbent. He hasn't done anything to make me particularly love him or hate him.
Bill Bolton , Democrat challenger
Check out what he has to say about the "God- Nation" (with a link to StopGodDeceivers.org. He also wants to reshape marriage law to define four different types of legal marriage, including shotgun marriage. Is it just me, or is this guy kinda tough to take seriously?
Cathy Cox , Democrat challenger
Incumbent secretary of state. Rumor has it that someone in her campaign messed with Mark Taylor's wikipedia entry. And as the local fishwrap points out, she claims to be an "outsider", but she's not.
Mac McCarley, Democrat challenger
An invisible candidate. Can't find anything else about him. Except that he's apparently a veteran who's very concerned about making sure we spend enough money on veterans. Not that I have any problem with that, but I need to know more. Much more.
Mark Taylor , Democrat challenger
Incumbent lieutenant governor. He boasts a lot of tax-cutting, which is good. He's also proposed a lot of spending, which is not so good. Also on the down-side for me, looks like he blocked the Defense of Scouting bill, which would've prevented state agencies from discriminating against the Boy Scouts. I'm an Eagle Scout. I'd have to hear a very good defense for him blocking this bill.
Looks like the real battle here is between Cox and Taylor on the Democrat ballot, with the winner taking on Sonny in November. I've got no great excitement for any of the front-runners, and the "dark horses" are either nut cases or invisible.
Oh, and an online quiz pegged me as a Sonny Perdue voter. But the quiz-makers don't know any more about Mac McCarley than I do.
Hmmm. Guess I'll have to look at the Lieutenant Governor's race.
Saw it yesterday afternoon.
I think Scott Kurtz sums it up best.
Golf Cart DUI
So, the city manager was arrested for DUI and possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. His open container was a glass of wine, and the vehicle was a golf cart.
Let's assume, for the moment, that DUI and open container laws exist for the sake of protecting citizens from the harm that a drunk driver can do. Let's also assume that it's the innocent bystanders we want to protect. I don't much care for laws that exist only to protect us from our own stupidity, there's something a bit Big Brotherish about that in my book, and I'm all in favor of people learning from their own mistakes, just in case you haven't seen my sig.
So: Should DUI laws apply to golf carts? Or, at least, should you be subject to the same consequences for being tipsy behind a golf cart wheel as behind a gas-guzzler? Granted, they are a very common form of transportation in this town. But really, it's not like a golf cart can compare to a half-ton of metal racing at 90-mph.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
So, just the other morning, I was listening to this discussion of creation vs. evolution on the radio, and the question that came up over and over of the exact age of this ball of dirt we're living on.
Some people insist that the world is billions of years old. Others are adamant that it's only a few hundred thousand.
Here's my thought:
Einstein and Hawking have told us a few things about relativity, specifically, the idea that time really isn't the fixed constant that we think it is. And the theory goes that time is especially relative in certain hard-to-recreate circumstances. If the beginning of the universe isn't a hard-to-recreate circumstance, I don't know what is. I would be surprised if there weren't a lot of relativity going on back then.
From the theological perspective: Time is an aspect of this physical world in which we exist. God, Heaven, and the Host all exist beyond this world, in an Eternal state. Our senses just aren't all that prepared to grok what true timelessness really is. God's given us some clues, but we're very much accustomed to living by the clock and the calendar.
Add into the mix the fact that I've quite possibly overdosed on high-quality sci-fi in my lifetime.
So: Am I totally off my rocker to suggest that maybe a true seven-day creation and a billions-of-years creation may not be all that contradictory?
And I'll end with a joke from rec.humor.funny:
Mortal: What is a million years like to you?
God: Like one second.
Mortal: What is a million dollars like to you?
God: Like one penny.
Mortal: Can I have a penny?
God: Just a second...
Can't make this stuff up....
Can't make this stuff up....
This caught my eye from the latest News of the Weird:
"The May 10 tornado that hit Highland County, Ohio, touched down in the town of Hillsboro, along Wizard of Oz Drive."
Did you know...
...that under the immigration bill that the House just rejected from the Senate, that illegal immigrants would have been allowed to pay just 3 out of 5 years of back taxes. And it's up to the illegal immigrant to pick and choose which 3 years. Consider, also, that these are 3 years of work that's not in any corporate records, not in any tax records, and if they happen to "fudge" a bit (gee, fudging on taxes, here in America?), the burden of proof is on the IRS.
Again, another bill that deserves to go down in flames. Don't get me wrong, I hate our system of taxation. But if any American citizen through a simple error of math misses paying so much as a dime in one year, even if they've never broken a single non-tax law in their life, that person's gonna lose their firstborn before the IRS is gonna let them go.
Anyway, it's my observation that one of the reasons illegal labor is such a problem is that our tax code punishes you if you don't break the law. With the myriad of taxes and government-mandated expenses on legal labor, some jobs are just not worth the minimum expense to employ someone for an hour.
If only there were a better way.....
Clowns to the left of me, politicians to the right
The issue of the day: Gay marriage.
On the one side, we've got those who want a Constitutional amendment on the matter. The Federal Marriage Amendment. I'm personally quite glad it failed. Marriage has almost always been and should remain a matter of state law. I've got a long list of state and local issues that should never have entered the federal arena, and I don't care to make it any longer. The fact that it was even brought up in Congress was nothing but political showboating and pandering, and a waste of time and paper that could have been put to much better use. For example, doing something about our hideous tax code. But I digress.
On the other hand, we've got the mess that the Episcopal Church has gotten itself into. In this, gay marriage is just a symptom of a larger issue: A Christian church that is rejecting the defining principle of Christianity (Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Word made Flesh, who suffered and died to save humanity from the eternal penalty for our sinful rejection of God). A Church that derives its authority from scripture while rejecting the authority of that same scripture. We've got a new Presiding Bishop who, just yesterday, called on "mother Jesus".
In the traditional Christian view as I understand it, matrimony is a matter of deep spiritual importance. Matrimony, like priesthood, is a calling from God, as a foretaste of a true relationship with our Creator in Eternity. In its highest, truest form, two people become as one, without losing their individual natures. (I've known a few couples who have a union to this degree. I've known plenty of couples who haven't.) We humans didn't create marriage, any more than we created ourselves and our gender-based natures. It's more than a matter of social contract, more than a matter of convenience. It's way more than anything Hollywood makes of it.
Finally, an answer....
Finally, I've received an answer to The Letter!
This from Georgia's governor Sonny Perdue:
Dear Mr. Dolan:
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me about the role of government in our lives. The freedom of which you speak is a precious gift, and it is the duty of those in public office to protect the freedoms of all citizens.
It is important that your elected officials know of your concerns, and I am always pleased to receive comments from Georgia's citizens. Many of the items you mentioned in your letter are more appropriately addressed at the federal level. I encourage you to get in touch with your Members of Congress so that they can keep your views in mind. For your convenience, I am including a list of the names and contact information for all members of the Georgia Congressional delegation.
I appreciate the opportunity to learn what is on your mind and hope this information will assist you as you pursue this matter further with the federal government.
Way ahead of you, Mr. Perdue. Guess I need to write him a letter on some specific issues I wish the state government would just butt out of. Things like funding charities. Heck, I could even be radical and suggest that marriage should be a purely religious institution without state involvement.
Sheesh, these politicians, have to walk them through everything....