Church Stuff-More or less

Does the church make sense or do we make it too hard for people to come in? I think yes and yes and the task then is to make it easier. Maybe for someone out there, this will be the case. I write as a Lutheran (or, perhaps a Lutherpalian) although I might seem out of the mainstream from time to time. That's okay, isn't it? Let's blog on.

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Location: Northport, Long Island, United States

Contrary to what Google will tell you, I have been blogging for several year, right here. Look for Churchstuff-moreorless. life was a hell of a lot easier when you could talk to someone to get help. Now, you can't do it on the telephone, you can't do it on the internet. Life was easier and made more sense because people actually cared. Now they will screw you as quickly as they will help you. Unfuck the world.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dragons, in honor of St. George's Day

The dragon has been a creature of myth and legend for centuries throughout the world. In his book, View Over Atlantis (1969), John Michell says, "In every continent of the world, the dragon chiefly represents the principle of fertility. The creation of the earth and the appearance of life came about as a result of a combination of the elements. The first living cell was born out of the earth, fertilized from the sky by wind and water. From this union of yin and yang sprang the seed which produced the dragon. Every year the same process takes place".

It may seem strange to speak of yin and yang, so obviously Oriental terminology, when speaking about Celtic life and legend. While the terms may be from the Orient, the concepts are not uniquely so. Michell observed how the ancient practice of Feng Shui in China contributed to the harmony of the landscape and the people. He also observed that geomancy had been practiced in ancient Britain. When an ancient Celt, and especially Druids, would survey the land for any activity (i. e. building, festival celebrations, etc.) they would speak of the ley of the land. Today we use that same term, although it has a related, but different meaning. Today when we speak of the "ley of the land" we often picture exactly how the hills roll or the shape of the river as it flows; more of the concrete concept of how the land lays or actually and physically appears.

Cosmic forces flowed through and affected the area, or how the area affected those forces. The Celts believed that dragons were creatures of the parallel world and their power and presence would affect the ley of the land. "The places associated with the dragon legend, the nerve centers of seasonal fertility, appear always to coincide with sites of ancient sanctity", Michell adds.

The path of the dragons, called a vein, was critical to the flow of energy or ley of the land. IF there was a spot that the dragon crossed often, a spot where the veins crossed or a spot where the dragon would stop to rest, that became a spot of heightened power. Stonehenge is thought to be one of those places. In addition, some believe that the Celtic Cross surrounded by a circle is a symbol of the crossing ley lines and how the circle of life should be centered on that power.

King Arthur himself was burdened by dreams of dragons; although it is unclear which color he saw. He saw them specifically at the time of Sir Mordred's conception and before his death. He is eaten by dragons in his final dream and it is at his next battle that Sir Mordred kills him. It is said that when a king sees dragons there will be much ruin come to his kingdom and himself.

With the introduction of Christianity to the Celts came a change in the role of dragons. Some people even believe that there were no dragons in Celtic mythology until the English came, mainly because there is no record of them in the Celtic world until then. However, it is more probable that there was simply no written record of their existence–the Celts stories surviving by oral tradition. The "sudden" appearance of dragons when the Christians invaded can be easily explained by the meticulous effort Christians gave to written records.

The Apostolic Church was very good at taking local beliefs and using that belief for its own benefit. Take, for example, the story of St. George. Here the great power of the Dragon is turned into the power of the Devil. Traditional symbolism holds that St. George slayed the Dragon (Satan) to save the maid (Christianity). It is also very convenient that the Celtic symbol was the Dragon.

Today the dragon is continuously popular amongst the Celtic revivalist, especially story tellers and craftsmen; and we must not forget that dragons have never gone out of style for the Welsh, for it is their flag which proudly displays the Red Dragon and their motto which reads: Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn, The Red Dragon Leads the Way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yom HaShoah 2010

One: We are in many ways a culture without memory. The Holocaust, a series of events that occurred just over a generation ago, changed the world forever. Yet by some the Holocaust is forgotten, or seen as irrelevant, or even viewed as something that never happened.

All: As people of faith, we refuse to forget. We refuse to participate in the erasing of history. As a community of faith, we decide to remember, as we hear the historical record from Europe a generation ago and reflect upon events in our own time. We dare to listen to the voices of the past, even as they echo today.

One: In this moment, we are all Jews wearing the yellow Star of David.

All: We are all homosexuals wearing the pink triangle.

One: We are all political activists wearing the red triangle.

All: We are all criminals wearing the green triangle.

One: We are all antisocials wearing the black triangle.

All: We are all Jehovah’s Witnesses wearing the purple triangle.

One: We are all emigrants wearing the blue triangle.

All: We are all gypsies wearing the brown triangle.

One: We are all undesirable, all extendable by the state.

…Leader: To God of both memory and hope, we pledge ourselves to be a people of resistance to the powers of death wherever they may appear, to honor the living and the dead, and to make with them our promise: Never again!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Solemn Reproaches

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow
which was brought upon me,
which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.

O my people, O my church,
what have I done to you,
or in what way have I offended you?
I led you forth from the land of Egypt
and delivered you by the waters of baptism,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

I led you through the desert forty years,
and fed you manna,
I brought you through tribulation and penitence,
and gave you my body, the bread of heaven,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

What more could I have done for you
that I have not done?
I planted you, my chosen and fairest vineyard,
I made you branches of my vine;
but when I was thirsty, you gave me vinegar to drink
and pierced with a spear the side of your Savior.

I went before you in a pillar of cloud,
and you have led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.
I scourged your enemies and brought you to a land of freedom,
but you have scourged, mocked and beaten me.
I gave you the water of salvation from the rock,
but you have given me gall and left me to thirst.

I gave you a royal scepter,
and bestowed the keys of the kingdom,
but you have given me a crown of thorns.
I raised you on high with great power,
but you have hanged me on the cross.

My peace I gave, which the world cannot give,
and washed your feet as a sign of my love,
but you draw the sword to strike in my name
and seek high places in my kingdom.
I offered you my body and blood,
but you scatter and deny me.

I sent the Spirit of truth to guide you,
and you close your hearts to the Counselor.
I pray that all may be one in the Father and me,
but you continue to quarrel and divide.
I call you to go and bring forth fruit,
but you cast lots for my clothing.

I grafted you into the tree of my chosen Israel,
and you turned on them with persecution and mass murder,
I made you joint heirs with them of my covenants,
but you made them scapegoats for your own guilt.

I came to you as the least of your brothers and sisters;
I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
naked and you did not clothe me,
sick and in prison and you did not visit me.

(Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship)

Thursday, April 01, 2010



Christ is the Priest above us,

Ordained of God for all the living.

Christ is the Priest above us.

The bread, His Body; the wine, His Blood;

Food for the wayward, drink for the lost.

Christ is the Priest above us.

His garden of sorrow, His garden of betrayal,

A Kiss for the King, a Sign for the soldiers.

Christ is the Priest above us.

Nailed to the Cross of terrible agony;

Anguish, distress, crucified pain.

Christ is the Priest above us.

I hear the hills, I hear the seas,

I hear the angels heralding to earth,

Christ is the Priest above us.

His Heart, my heart; His Hands my hands;

My very self belongs to Him.

Christ is the Priest above us.

I bear his name; I speak his voice,

Without envy, or anger, or shadow on heart.

Christ is the Priest above us.

I am the face of Christ the Priest;

I am His servant at the door.

Guide me, guard me, heal me, help me

Be the window through which You shine–

Christ the Priest above us. Amen.