Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013.07.31 Call To Disobey—Another Reformation?

There is a great rummage sale going on in the Roman Catholic Church in Austria–and it’s spreading like an inchoate brushfire—not wild but steady.

Because all things are interconnected this affects all Christianity at the very least.

According to many observers of developments in Western Christianity, every 500 years there occurs an enormous transformative change, something like a grand rummage sale in which everything is emptied out of the attic and basement. Some treasures are tossed, some refurbished and renewed, and the rest—rummage.

The name for this “rummage sale” so far is The Great Emergence; the name of the last “rummage sale” was The Reformation, tellingly also cradled in Germany.

EVERY GREAT RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT MATTERS TO/AFFECTS ALL RELIGIONS.

Helmut Schüller, a parish priest who represents the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, Call To Disobedience, founded in 2006, spoke recently in Dedham, MA. I went to hear him chiefly because I am supportive of the ordination of women in the RC Church and I remember the pain of being found unfit in one's Church, by virtue of gender—also I love the idea of being called to disobey Church doctrine and practice for the sake of justice and the inclusivity Jesus practiced and preached.

The Austrian priests involved number 430, which is 15% of all priests in Austria; 70-80% of other priests agree but are afraid to join on. No sanctions against the movement have been levied. Schüller said that it is crucial that the clergy become involved to add official impact to the call for reforms. He added that the Eucharist should never be used as a political sanction.

Women in the Episcopal Church would not have been ordained back in the 70s without the support of some male bishops. The most effective reformations work because of collaboration, and in the Church the best collaboration happens in communities of prayer, word and sacrament. Isolated actions are too easily ignored.

Schüller’s group strongly advocates for a new image of the priest, rather than consolidating and closing parishes as a way to deal with the shortage of male priests.  He noted that the present hierarchy of authority is: 1) God 2) conscience 3) external authorities. (Now there’s an attic treasure to keep.)

The Austrian group is fueled not just by discontent about abuses of power or a shortage of priests but by a re-discovery of Vatican II documents in which most of the changes were already proposed. Schüller said that the whole system of Church structure must change—and that women must be brought into the center of ministry.

He spoke to a gathering of about 600 people, gathered in a non air-conditioned UU Meeting House in sweltering July heat. An RC deacon from the sponsoring church, St. Susannas’s, introduced Schüller and quipped that we owed a debt of gratitude to Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley for the fabulous publicity he’d spawned by notifying St. Susanna’s that the event could not take place in their parish church.

Reforms called for include:
    -Open the office of priesthood 
    -Advocate an end to the narrow exclusivity of the celibacy requirement
    -Open communion
    -Restore the dignity of the baptized; allow competent trained laity to preach
    -Recognize all Christians as CITIZENS of the Church, not just sheep. I say: baaa-yes to that!
    -Create a healthy system in which congruent behavior is the norm for clergy
    -Allow “Priestless Eucharistic Celebrations” for a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Communion when priests are in short supply, to fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation.
    -Revise and rework the language of prayer and faith. The newly imposed Roman Missile represents a step backwards. The German version is in preparation.  Give the people and their priests a say workig together to write liturgies.
   
Schüller observed that modern society had made advances and the Church should exercise the same moral authority. Example: UN declaration that every human being should have a full chance to develop her/his own life.

There was much more but these are the basics. I was impressed with Schüller’s charm, wit and passion in the presence of great hungry crowds and stultifying heat. Many of the usual questions were asked and he fielded all questions with skill and humor. My favorite: If the Church did everything exactly the way Jesus did it, we’d all be fishermen! (This in answer to the rigid literalist official stance that Jesus picked male disciples, therefore.........)

The Austrian Priests will meet in October with priests from other nations including the US to plan to further the Initiative. I wonder if a busload of nuns will arrive!? :0) 
   
“Disobedience is irritating and provocative and we’ll keep it up,” Schüller concluded to a roar of applause.  

So what does this matter to me, all Christians, and people of other faiths???  Well................

Roman Catholicism is the largest  religion in the world (1.2 billion members.)
Transformation there will affect ongoing and needed transformation and revitalization in all religions and in Christianity in particular—and perhaps in secular societies as well

This movement could open the way to fruitful interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, much needed for the healing of religion for the sake of spirituality.

The question that faces Western Christianity in this era is: Where will religious authority reside for this next period of time before the next rummage sale?

My vote goes to Christ Sophia, the world-traveling, ambassador of goodness and divine grace, the Great Connector. 

She’s removing the toxins from the institutional “Kool-Aid.”

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2013.07.28 The Lord's Prayer, Sort Of

When I was in third grade I decided that for my art project I would create an illustrated version of the Lord’s Prayer.  As a young child I was quite fascinated, enamored really, with God for many reasons, not the least of which was that God listened to all my chatter—laments and exaggerations and triumphs alike—when my parents, preoccupied with their Cocktail Hour, did not.  So I suppose my project was a prayer of sorts, or at least a psalm to the God of my heart.

The Lord’s Prayer was the only official prayer I knew at the time and I also remembered that Jesus told his disciples to pray this way when they asked him how to pray (such a dumb question!)  I considered this prayer a big deal and thought Jesus must have written it himself.

The art teacher, Mrs. Schultz, was enthusiastic. She helped me draw God’s sandals, hanging out over a cloud. I used lots of glitter and gold paint for things like GOD, a hallowed name, so unique no one is named God, and AMEN for the end.

Kingdoms were always castles in clouds. Bread was Wonder Bread of course, a whole loaf.

Thy will be done was a puzzle, because God hadn’t exactly told me what to do. Thinking of Jesus with the children in the church window, I settled on a bunch of stick figure children all with bright halos over their heads. At least half the children were girls with triangle skirts.

Trespasses were easy, a sign on a lawn saying NO TRESPASSING. Forgiveness was hard to draw so I just tucked it in— I'm sorry— under the lawn sign and put a little footprint on the lawn.  

I’d once stolen a five-cent pack of gum from a store and later snuck back into the store to put it back. I drew a pack of gum and wrote Wrigley’s on it, which covered temptation and evil.

For power I traced a he-man ad for muscle-building, because a horse was too hard to draw. GLORY had its own page. There was no Jesus in this prayer, even though Christians called it Jesus’ prayer and he taught it.

This is a prayer about God and all the good things God can do.

Mrs. Schultz was very pleased with my work, and my mother’ praise was lavish. Daddy loved it too. 

I knew I wasn’t a very good artist, but it didn’t seem to matter much.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013.07.24 Prepping for the Annual Physical

As the time of my annual physical check up approached I began my usual obsessing about whether I should go on a quick fasting diet to fool the scales.

Then another thought came to mind:I’ve had age-normal falls which landed me with a couple of black eyes and most recently black and blue legs. My doctor has all this data and had examined me accordingly. She never asked if someone was beating me up. Like maybe I never fell. I’d said I never tripped. She even ordered brain tests to make sure there was no evidence of stroke or seizure activity.

My doctor knows me and trusts me, and I her. She knows my husband too and trusts him. But I know my doctor is supposed to ask anyway.

Choking with laughter at this realization, I ran to tell my husband who said with a grim grin, “I’m toast.” And we laughed some more.

This is not to make fun of the terrible crime of domestic abuse. Nor to discount all the effective awareness work I and others have done over the years about this serious often hidden issue. 

Humor aside, my experience made me realize how easy it is to hide and disguise truth, especially if you feel threatened or without resources. I also wondered about trust.  How and why do you trust someone?  Believe them at their word?  I have no idea. I just happen to think it’s the best policy. And the second best policy is to ask questions.

I also know how hard it is for professionals, myself included, to ask someone, usually a woman, is she is a  victim, “feels safe at home.” It humiliates. I don’t want to add more hurt, more bruise. So I’m glad for regulations that require me to ask hard questions. I can blame the law.

Guess I’ll just go on a quick diet and thank Godde for the graces in my life.  

When I went to my physical I asked my doctor why she never asked. After she gave me some information about domestic violence regulations, which I knew. She told me about the location of most d.v. wounds, except for teeth. She told me she had directly asked a friend, “Who did this to you?” The woman wasn't a patient. Sadly, there was nothing more to do except advise about resources.   

There was more to our conversation than I can write. This doctor is thoroughly informed, aware about the law and about domestic violence dynamics and not hesitant to probe. I have complete confidence in this doctor, both medically and as a woman of integrity and justice.

After our serious conversation ended, she got a twinkle in her eye and said, “He’s such a charming guy, that husband of yours.  

Indeed he is.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013.07.22 Lead On,Mary Magdalene—We're Following.

I write this to honor St.Mary Magdalene, a woman close enough to Jesus and his ways to be entrusted, as the gospel story goes, with being the first witness to resurrection—the apostle to the apostles many call her. That’s big!  Magdalene held the young church together with her teaching and preaching in the East and wrote her own gospel (see the work of Karen King)....... in which she argues with Peter about Jesus’ ideas on spirituality and immanence as the power source for good works.

YET....... she became known as a prostitute. There is NO scriptural reference and no historical substantiation whatsoever for such a tarring. I call this patriarchal terrorism. Mary Magdalene, neverthe-friggin-less,  is a saint of the Church. Her day is July 22 and her spirit still haunts Church and culture, calling for justice and equity for women—and all citizens of Godde’s kingdom.  

Gloria Steinem, feminist activist, author, and founder of Ms Magazine,  now 78 years old, spoke at Simmons College 2013 commencement on the topic of feminism today. 

She acknowledged progress but contended that many of the same issues that spurred the women’s rights movement in the 1970s are still present in the context of ongoing patriarchal values and domination politics.

“Here’s a skeletal key to what has to change,” she said in a phone interview, “Women still require an adjective and males don’t.  There is a ‘novelist’ and a ‘woman novelist,’ [as there is] a doctor and a ‘black doctor.’”  I agree with this nut-shell evaluation, yet also remember that we still say ‘nurse’ and ‘male’ nurse. 

In the Church we do still hear talk of a priest and a ‘woman’ priest, and the Episcopal Church still “studies” women.  We’re an “issue”. Women in Church and society are still not equal and, in some cases, not equivalent to men. Think violence. Think equal pay. Think sexist language. Think fear.

I just read the obituary of, yes it’s true, the first woman matador in the US, Patricia McCormick.  Doesn’t sound Hispanic does it? But McCormick had a gift and a calling, which she pursued faithfully in Texas and Mexico.

In 1963, one of Mexico’s elite matadors said: “Had she not been  born a woman she might have been better than any of us.”  I assume he meant to say that she might have been able to progress in the ranks of her vocation, but............   Because in fact she WAS better than many of the male matadors. His statement reflected the ingrained and irrational effects of lingering patriarchal assumptions.

McCormick, whose last bullfight was in 1962, was finally honored in 2007 with an exhibit in the Heritage Museum of Big Spring, TX and a video demonstration of her cape work.  I’m not sure about the brutality of the sport itself but I do recognize a gift and a movement art when I see it. 

I confess that when I went to a bullfight in Spain back in 1960 I was mesmerized by the rhythm of the dance and the grace of both man and beast.  After all, is it any more brutal than football, which, in my opinion, doesn’t seem to have any grace to it?  Boxing at least does.

The issue of genderized professions and roles is still with us. But women break through when they have a calling and a gift.

Genderized Divinity, exclusively male, is also still with us, but I believe Sophia Wisdom is working to change this constrictive habit.

I wonder if genderization is a result of natural proclivities, or is it a social construct culturally conditioned by patriarchy? ARE there differences? Of course.  But are these human differences not gendered ones?  Should gender differences be stereotyped as they are, thus restricting both men and women? Nowadays, in some rare cases, anatomy is up for grabs, but so far men do not bear children unless they are male sea horses. 

Some 30 years ago Steinem famously coined the slogan: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”  Then some women got all fussed when in time she got married! 

Today I would say that a woman without a man, or a good companion, is—lonely.   So, quite likely, is a man.

Love respects gender, yet love also precedes and supercedes gender—thank Godde. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013.07.17 Free Prisoners

A wise friend commented on my post (7/14/13) about the theology of evolutionary Continuous Creation: “It also calls for an evolving theology that encompasses all humanity regardless of race religion, sexual orientation, occupation, gender and sees all as wonderfully created and held in Godde's hand.”  Hail the prophetic call for human justice as profound as  earth justice!

Saving Earth means loving all living things that God loves in the way that Godde loves them:  EQUALLY.


In 1986 poet Etheridge Knight (1931-1991) wrote this poem entitled: "Rehabilitation and Treatment in the Prisons of America."  Published by Yale Divinity School, Reflections, Fall 2013)

The Convict strolled into the prison administration building to
get assistance and counseling for his personal problems. Inside the
main door were several other doors proclaiming: Doctor, Lawyer,
Teacher, Counselor, Therapist, etc. He chose the proper door, and
was confronted by two more doors: Custody and Treatment. He
chose Treatment, went in, and was confronted with two more
doors: First Offender and Previous Offender. Again he chose the
proper door and was confronted with two more doors: Adult and
Juvenile. He was an adult, so he walked through that door and
ran smack into two more doors: Democrat and Republican. He
was democrat, so he rushed through that door and ran smack into
two more doors: Black and White. He was Black, so he rushed—
ran— through that door—and fell nine stories to the street.


Then I came along behind. I was White so I rushed through that door
and ran smack into two more doors: Male and Female. I was a woman,
so I raced through the right door—and flew out into the open air. Before 
I looked down at the streets below I stuck out my chest and yanked the
rip cord hidden in my uplift bra. Like an umbrella my chute spread over
me.      I looked up and saw no doors.

                        (addition mine)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013.07.14 Ask the Beasts: Spirituality and the Evolving Earth

“Ask the beasts and they will teach you;
    the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth an they will teach you;
           and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among those does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing,
    and the breath of every human being.” 
(Job 12:7-10) 

Yesterday at Boston College I heard a brilliant talk by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, professor of theology at Fordham. She used as her biblical text the above passage from the biblical book of Job.

Poor old Job, impatient for a change in traditional theological thought and having to suffer further because of righteous friends who kept insisting that his sufferings and loss must be divine retribution. Just search your soul, confess, repent and be right with God, they said. 

NO, NO, NO said Job, you’re full of claptrap. I did NOT cause my misfortunes. I am innocent. Just ask the beasts—and every living thing. (This means plants, animals and people—all)

So how do all these living things answer? 
    Their science story: We all evolved over 3.5 billion years. We are all connected in a grand molecular/biological schema on a tree of life and continue to modify, branch and diversify in order to grow and multiply. The more diversified we become the more success each species will have in life.  One beast has evolved with no diversification—the horseshoe crab. One plant the same—the jingo tree. Some of us, of course, will die out.
    Their theology story: We all owe our origins in existence to God. God will transform us into a new creation, a future of life with God who never abandons. Most importantly, God sustains us moment to moment—creatio continua. This is the Tree of Life, home of every living thing.

Johnson's core point was that all living things evolve, thrive in the same intricately connected ecological web, and are in the hand of God/the Lord—now and forever.  Divine creativity is active all the time or there would be no world! AND, "pay attention to biology!"

In ancient times science and religion agreed on these convergences. Darwin was a faithful scientist, a beholder of every living thing. Unlike some righteous religionists (like Job's friends) Darwin shined praises on the minutiae of biological life in a way that brought about his theory of evolution.

He wrote "...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved." He marveled that the bone structure of the human hand (for grasping), the mole’s paw (for digging), the fish’s fin (for paddling), and the bird’s wing (for flying) are all exactly the same skeletally. 

So what happened?  The history is too much for me to go into here, but you might say the same hubris that motivated the putative apple caper in Eden caused humanity to forget that it was only ONE species among every living thing that God held in hand.  We placed ourselves at the top of an ascendancy scale. We're still doing it! Recently the Occupy Movement made witness to such hubris.  Johnson's case, however, was that we humans have left every living thing except ourselves behind, discounted, outside of our concern and God's as well. 

How will we heal this rending?  Ironically, by not paying so much attention to sin and the spiritual state of our own narcissistic souls and looking out the window at the whole order of which we are one part. "LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!!" Johnson said. "We need a robust pneumtology."

It is She, the Holy Spirit who in our Christian Nicene Creed is called "the giver of life." The Latin words mean vivifier.  I can't resist commenting here that I would so love it if we could at least stop referring to the Holy Spirit as HE in the creed. Please! Three men on top—too much. 

Tears came to my eyes more than once as Johnson talked about the Spirit— the spiritual radiance of  plants and animals as well as human beings. 

LOOK OUT THE WINDOW. LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF NATURE. GET OVER YOURSELF.

A few irresistible wise tidbits that beg to be heard:
    -Creation is a cosmic event.
    -Deep Incarnation means that God in the flesh goes beyond Jesus' flesh, even beyond human flesh,  and into the flesh of the whole natural living world—every living thing again. Flesh ( Greek sarx)  means everything that is vulnerable, perishable, fragile and transitory. That's the whole enchilada.  
    -The Exultet Christians chant at the Easter Vigil begins with: Rejoice all earth...(not all humanity)
    -The extinction of a species means the end of birth (Darwin) 27,000 species are lost each year!  We are a species!
    -For Christians: Jesus is made of the same molecular dust as we all are. In Christ’s resurrection the earth itself arose. Resurrection redeems from DEATH, not just sin!
    - Birds have the power to fly; for the ancients birds went where humans couldn’t reach, so the bird, symbol of the Goddess of Love, became the symbol for the the divine Spirit in both testaments of the Bible.
    -There are two bibles: Nature and Scripture
   
If the Church is too tied into the resources of corporate wealth to divest from fossil fuel investments, then the Church is irrelevant and voiceless, as mostly it has been already.  (NB the United Church of Christ has just voted to divest, and so did the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.)
 “If you push for such things, you may end up despised,” Johnson said with a compelling grin.

When I went home I rushed to Genesis and back to the Garden of Eden. I knew all about the good and evil morality tree whose fruit was death.  But wasn’t there another special tree?  

YES.... in Genesis 3:22: the tree of life. The story gives us a glimpse no more of an opportunity for humanity “to reach out his/her hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 

We can perpetuate the schema of the great Darwinian/ biblical Tree of All Life.  The beasts and all green life ask no less of us than to act now to save the earth, to help God’s creatio continua.

Is NOW the time to reach with all our might and wit and resources for that tree of life and save all earth—and ourselves with it?

IF NOT NOW, WHEN? 




   


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2013.07.10 Copy Cat Prayers






A little boy mimics his religious elders at prayer, the body language for Muslims of deep respect, awe, and reverence for Allah their Divinity. They pray like this five times a day and are especially aware of the Holy in their high holy season, Ramadan, which is now. 

Some things aren’t worth imitating but some things are. And small  children usually know the difference and show us adults—if we would but listen and look and follow. 

This world right now needs to be on its knees, humble and together in body and spirit.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

2013.07.07 Interpreting Scripture, Necessary But Dangerous Ministry

On May 12, 2013, in Curaçao, the Dutch island off the Venezuela coast,  Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached a sermon on the text Acts 16:16-34 that raised a theological ruckus. (Source: NYTimes news story, June 12, 2013, Mark Oppenheimer.)

Now how often does a theological ruckus make the NYTimes?  And from a text in the Acts of the Apostles, a book notable for its joyful exaggerations about the high speed growth of the young Christian Church, read evangelism?  Miracle after miracle. And the Holy Spirit Herself notably in charge of this expansion. Who would critique Herself?  Who could find controversy? It struck me as very funny. 

It had to do, of course, with how scripture is interpreted and what scripture means in different contexts. Every generation must interpret scripture for its own time. That’s the point. That’s what keeps it holy—and alive.

So what was the ruckus really about?

Here’s a paraphrase of the biblical account, in brief and with NO interpretation, which is also the point—and the problem.  Scripture leaves room for everyone’s take:

Paul is on the move spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Greece with spectacular success, financed by a businesswoman/convert named Lydia. So far so good, but then one day a slave-girl with “a spirit of divination” (seeing beyond the obvious) shouted out,‘These men are slaves of the Most High God who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ ”  The girl followed Paul and his disciple Silas around calling out until Paul got annoyed and ordered the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ. Which it obediently did causing the girl’s owners distress because they were making mucho money from her fortune telling. Her owners schemed to have Paul and other Christians arrested and thrown in jail  for disturbing the peace and preaching the rhetoric of conversion.  In prison  Paul and Silas sang hymns to God; a violent earthquake shook their chains loose and all prisoners were free to escape but didn’t—in order to protect the jailer from losing his job or worse. The grateful jailer of course converts, is declared “saved”and he AND his entire household are summarily baptized.  

Instant Christians and we all go out singing and rejoicing!! There you have it.

You see what I mean about Acts? Just the right amount of too many too happy endings!

In the meantime what happened to the poor slave-girl who, thanks to Paul’s pique, had been relieved of the divination gift that was her livelihood?  Perhaps Paul was not really angry at her but at her exploitive owners? Nevertheless, the girl took a hit.

And what happened to Jefferts Schori?  She preached about Paul’s failure to value diversity and to see the girl’s “difference.”  She noticed, as did I, that the girl proclaimed the basic Christian kerygma: “These men are slaves of the Most High God who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”

Well, duh, I thought to myself. She even used the same slavery rhetoric as Paul used when he preached about Christians being "slaves" to God—and to no other I presume. 

But the Presiding Bishop’s interpretation went viral. Angry Episcopalians flew around cyber space, defending Paul—and patriarchy I might add.  Objectors denounced the Presiding Bishop for her provocative interpretation, questioning even her standing as a good Christian. 

Most of the disgruntled Episcopalians were of a more traditionalist stripe and unhappy with Jefferts Schori’s support of gay and lesbian marriage and her hard line politics and legal stances against dissenting congregations who voted to secede from the Episcopal Church and expected to take their properties with them.  NOT.

But is it not equally a NOT to biblical literalists to stay with a Church that has over-ridden biblical prohibitions against same-sex marriage? Again, a matter of interpretation in context.

You get the picture: a similar extremist tension to that which polarizes/paralyzes our government.

Scholars who were consulted agreed that Jefferts-Schori’s  interpretation was not what the original biblical writers intended. Another duh—also the point of the ongoing tradition of  scriptural interpretation incumbent on the Church. But what does it mean today? 

Are you bored?  I am.  Yet I declare that my vote goes with the slave-girl who: 1) was exploited for her strange gift; 2) turned out to be a proclaimer of the gospel; and 3) was relieved of what the culture of her day thought of as “demonic” but which the text in Acts does not call “evil.” She might have looked on Paul as her abuser not her liberator.

Who, after all, would employ her now? Is there not, from a contemporary point of view, a sexist, possibly ableist, tinge to this text?—and to the extreme reactions to Jefferts Schori’s take? She too is a woman.   

 Jefferts-Schori said of prior generations of interpreters when asked for comment: “They had a limited view, because none of us is God.”

Jesus, I imagine, might take these two women out for lunch, (or to a quiet place) not for reprimand but to listen to their concerns—graciously, inclusively—and thank them for speaking truth to power, each in her own way.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013.07.04 Happy 4th in the Home of the Free

Why do I tear up when the piccolos toodle “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the cannons boom to the mighty 1812 Overture?

I suppose it’s this thing of aging—a salubrious combination of sentimentality and gradual letting go of fretting over girth or acting goofy-happy.

Last evening we watched a 1985 documentary about the erection (well not really but a fun thought nonetheless!) of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. Ms Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate the centennial of American independence. The gift is significant, in part because the French knew how difficult it was to maintain the spirit of liberté egalité, fraternité against the pull of monarchy and other ills of control politics.

I grew up in NYC in the shadow of Lady Liberty, besides the Empire State Building. We used to go on Circle Line cruises and wave to her. What moves me most is that the statue is not a symbol or power, or even success, but rather a symbol of promise. America values independence, and freedom even more. The great statue’s torch, held so high and with such somber-faced dignity, reminds us not to forget our reason to be. Perhaps this is a bit like the sanctuary lamp that burns in churches remembers to us the promise of divine grace.

Boston strong turned into Boston nasty over the refusal to bury one of the Marathon bomber terrorists. Will Boston turn scared now as we face another mass celebration, ripe for bombs? I doubt it. We are patriotic, in spite of the Patriot Act.

Boston’s annual July 4th celebration this year will go on in its own spectacular way. The security will be tight,very. Some Bostonians will remember the pain and fear of bombings at another of Boston’s great traditions, the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day. Certain behaviors and items will not be permitted, including styrofoam coolers on wheels, non-transparent drink containers, trash cans, any homegrown fireworks, propane tanks for grills and NO BACKPACKS.  That's a lot of lifestyle change. I hope they let the kids have sparklers.

I’m proud to be an American and proud to be a Christian.  I weep for the joy and privilege of it.