A Surprise Nomination

Well, I thought this was a joke. An email from a Gmail account, purporting to be the account of a bishop search committee for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas. So naturally, I didn’t respond. I mean, why would I? I’m a layman! I’m neither a deacon, nor a priest. Fast forward a few weeks from November 22 to December 5. It read as follows:

This is [to] inform you that your name has been submitted to be considered for the position of Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas. The search committee will contact you at the end of the open search process in mid December.

It turns out it wasn’t a joke. I received a telephone call from a woman on the bishop search committee asking how I want to pursue my candidacy. She didn’t tell me who nominated me, rather that they asked to remain anonymous. I told her that I required time to mull it over. I looked them up to double check, and they’re accepting nominations until December 15th as per THIS POST on their site.

I remain confused, as the Diocese of Western Kansas presently has a Bishop (and he’s a great one too!) who is only aged seventy years old, and thus isn’t required to retire for two more years! I didn’t even know that they were searching for a replacement. The diocese in whose borders I reside, however; has NO Bishop at this time, so I knew that there was a search going on in the Diocese of Kansas. I know… Kansas and Western Kansas. It’s confusing… And both looking for a Bishop?

I did some further research as to the election process, and as to my own eligibility. In the Episcopal church, representatives from the congregations of a diocese form a committee and elect a bishop. If he/she is not already a bishop, that person is consecrated by three existing bishops.

From what I can see of the canons, there’s nothing major that would preclude a layman bring elevated to bishop. There are obvious steps to precede, ordination as deacon then priest… But only the Romans stipulate you must be a priest for five years before eligibility to the Episcopate. Thus, it turns out, I really am eligible… Technically… Though Title III, Canon 11, Section 4 throws some doubt on the subject, unless time were written into the election to provide for ordination as Deacon and then as Priest:

…evidence of the Bishop-elect’s having been duly ordered Deacon and Priest as to the Bishop-elect’s medical, psychological and psychiatric examination required in Sec. 3(b) of this Canon…

I must point out, that the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas is particularly close to my heart, as when I was a youth, I was troubled. This resulted in my being in the care of the Saint Francis Boys homes in Salina, KS and in Ellsworth, KS, as well as my being in the foster care system through Saint Francis. The very first priest I ever met (of any denomination, despite having been baptized as an infant) was there – Father Thomas Campbell. It was through his loving kindness and support that I turned my life around, and I am greatly in his debt. It was also from his hands that I first tasted the Eucharist in any form.

I thought long and hard about what has happened in my life, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. I considered how odd it is for me, a layman, to be nominated to a diocese that I do not belong to, and which is two hours away from me. I recalled my history with that diocese, spanning back to my youth. I prayed, and I spoke with a spiritual director whose counsel I trust. Here’s how I finally responded… via email, of course (sans a few personal details):

To whom it may concern;

Greetings, in Christ. I apologize for not having responded sooner, as I believed this email to have been a prank. I realize after this afternoon’s telephone call, that it is not. I am not entirely certain how I feel about having been nominated… My first thought is to immediately say no, and to turn down this nomination. I am, by nature, quite bashful, and as is likely obvious, under-qualified. But upon further consideration and having spoken with my spiritual director, I can answer only – If it is God’s will, it will be, whether I reject it or not. And if it is not God’s will, no harm is done in going on the journey.

Before you continue further with any consideration, I should like to tell you more about myself. To that end, I’ve attached a copy of my resume, so that you can get to know me professionally. Also for your review is a link to the only published “religious” writing of mine: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1495299309. I hail originally from the [Eastern Christian] tradition. As such, my work was focused around the Eastern tradition of liturgy. I have studied the history and writings of the Christian Church for 13 years, even learning Hebrew and Aramaic to study the Old Testament directly, and Syriac to study the New Testament as well as a little of Greek and Latin to aid in that study.

[Paragraph about personal details and life history removed]

[Paragraph about personal income details and support of family removed]

If, as I suspect, nothing comes of the nomination, thank you for your time and for your consideration. I very much appreciate the opportunity to serve, regardless of what role I play. If however, I am selected for further interview, I very much look forward to speaking with you.

Warm regards, Theophilus

I really don’t expect anything to come of it, as they obviously have many, many more impressive and advanced candidates available to them. But at any rate, I wish them success in their selection of a shepherd to lead their church in humility and in love. I will pray for the Diocese of Western Kansas, and close this post with the prayer from the Diocese of Kansas (separate from the Diocese of Western Kansas) in whose borders I currently reside, edited as appropriate to the Western Diocese:

Gracious and loving God, thank you for the directing presence of your Holy Spirit upon those who have been set apart to discern your call of the 6th bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas. Look graciously on your people as we lift up the search process in fervent prayer. Guide us to the faithful pastor who will nurture your people and cultivate the myriad gifts that abide in the people of this diocese. Empower this search with a spirit of joy and discernment as together we journey with Jesus the road ahead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And from the Book of Common Prayer (page 818):

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

True National Character

There are many scales by which we generally weigh the character of a nation. Some for the better, some for the worse. And there are many measures by which nations aspire to be sized up. Many nations have a strong gross domestic product. Others own a great share of debt owed by other nations. Some have gold and diamonds. Others have a strong and stable government with relatively happy citizens. Still others are medically and technologically advanced. These are all categories that they have striven for recognition within. But to really understand the greatness or the lowliness of a nation, we have to look not at their accomplishments, but at the most unlikely statistics. How do they treat the poor? How do they treat those who are deemed a drain, non contributing… worthless? Whether or not you support abortion or choice, you must recognize that as society goes, life has been cheapened by its allowance. A medical and insurance system that weighs how many “good” years a person has left, how many children they have, who relies on them for support etc. prior to performing life saving medical procedures, cheapens life. A system that allows medically assisted suicide, and the euthanizing of those with severe disabilities, cheapens life.

But what is incredibly frustrating, more so in my view than all of the helpless previously mentioned, is the poor and the homeless. These people, many of them Veterans of our nation’s armed forces who served with bravery, honour and distinction, are viewed not as national heroes worthy of aid, but as a blight on society. People cross the street to avoid having to look them in the eye. People refuse to give them pocket change, because they may purchase booze. Cities plot to decrease their presence by banning them from public parks and lands. Cities install spikes under overpasses and in passageways where they are known to seek shelter in effort to make it too uncomfortable for them so that they will move on. They ban institutions from feeding them. They close soup kitchens over silly health infractions. They forbid their gathering. They ban churches from passing out blankets and coats to them in the winter. This is absolutely disgusting.

Taken as a package, we as a nation, and we as individual persons, are failing. We are not a great nation. We are a morally bankrupt nation. No matter what version of the “Golden Rule” you ascribe to, we are failing. We have lost our respect for life in general. Certain populations are deemed “disposable”. There was another nation that behaved in that manner once, and nearly every nation on the face of the earth went to war against, and defeated them. Gypsies, Jews, Gays, Priests, Catholics, Political Dissidents… And we are absolutely following their lead. No, we haven’t started to pinpoint races or faiths… yet… but it’s only a matter of time. The only way that a nation can truly be great and can be deemed worthy is through its kindness to the needy, to those who can’t give back, and to those unable to fend for themselves. If we as individual people are held to the golden rule standard, how much more so should the nation which represents us?  If we can’t care for the poor, the needy, the helpless, the weak, the homeless, the hungry, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed, the minorities – then we as a nation are a blight upon humanity.

Every person of goodwill, must absolutely make it their mission to only vote for candidates that espouse the virtues of love, kindness, and humility. Those who will further the cause of the helpless.  The road that we are going down right now is the road to ruin. We have become a selfish and self absorbed culture. Everything has become about what makes us happy. We have reverted to animals. It’s time that we stand up and be human beings. Caring, compassionate, giving and loving, and uplift all of our fellow humans. We have laws for no child being left behind, but our goal should be, no one left behind.

On Faith and Feeling

I awoke to the following post, and it genuinely sparked my curiosity, as I am one of those people that worships only because I prefer to receive reward rather than punishment once I die and experience whatever afterlife awaits me…

“If we worship God because we are afraid of punishment and Hell, then we are not worshipping God at all. If we worship God because we hope to receive a reward now and in the future an entry to Heaven, then we are not worshipping God at all.”

Where does that leave those of us who, for biologically complex reasons, have brains incapable of “feeling” and emotion? Are we then doomed as a result of having been created incapable of having a real relationship with an intangible force as we possess only logic and reason, with no satisfactory spiritual-emotional abilities? For me, worship began only because my father it pounded into me. I neither see nor feel anything spiritually. But I did it to honour my father, and because I was taught that it is right. Due to the way the Divine saw fit to create me, I am incapable of truly believing in the unseen. The emotions that I do feel are 1. content, and 2. malcontent. I see in black and white with no shades of grey. I follow logic and emotion.

I am unencumbered by the emotional slavery that leads so many to claim to be of faith and yet follow their own whims while attempting to justify it with the holy book whose rules they are breaking. I do exactly what the faith I follow requires of me. Always. Without any deviation. But I don’t really feel anything in this service. I act primarily because following the rules of my faith makes me a better person, and because when I die, I don’t want to suffer in any afterlife that there may be as well.

Where does that leave me? Personally, I believe that it makes me more prone to logic and reason. According to prominent Church folk from the middle to modern ages, that’s a good thing!

Xubuntu to Debian

One of my daughters is running Xubuntu on her laptop. Since the latest release of Debian (9.0 “Stretch”) should, in theory, have packages and kernel which are updated and superior to her 17.04 install of Xubuntu, I’m going to try a direct update from Xubuntu to Debian using dist-upgrade.

First, I will do a complete backup of her Minecraft worlds, music and any documents. Then I will edit her /etc/apt/sources.list to comment out all the Xubuntu/Ubuntu repositories and add entries for the new Debian “Stretch” repositories.

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

And comment out the current Xubuntu/Ubuntu repositories, and add the following:

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free

deb http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main contrib non-free

# stretch-updates, previously known as ‘volatile’
deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch-updates main contrib non-free

deb ftp://ftp.deb-multimedia.org stretch main non-free

Then I’ll update the package list:

sudo aptitude update

Finally, I’ll check compatibility of the more… “important” packages, and at last run:

sudo aptitude upgrade -y
sudo aptitude dist-upgrade

It’s likely that this won’t work, but it will still be a fun little experiment, since she wants the latest Debian anyway. Worst case scenario, I wipe the drive and do a fresh install. The only customization that her install really has anyway, is Oracle Java JRE 9 and MultiMC for Minecraft. The rest is standard OpenSource.

I’ll be sure and let you know how it worked out!!! If, by chance, it does work well, I’ll do some testing of essential functions to ensure that everything still works smoothly.

Memorial Day 2017

Winfield Kansas remembers.

With a replica of the Washington DC monument, the Winfield, Kansas Vietnam War Memorial lists all Kansas residents lost in Vietnam. Plans for the Vietnam War Memorial in Winfield began in 1987 when friends who had gathered for a class reunion wanted to find a way to honor their fallen classmates.  The project quickly grew from honoring only Cowley County servicemen to representing all 777 servicemen and nurses from Kansas who lost their lives or are missing in action from the Vietnam War. It was also created as a tribute to servicemen and nurses who served in any world war, and the central obelisk memorializes wars from the revolutionary war, to the World War, as well as POW’s and those Missing in action.

Many gathered today at the memorial, some placing flowers, others making rubbings of the wall, and still others just pausing with loved ones to take photos. It was a very moving display. The author opted not to take photos which would include those grieving. The city placed the flags as a memorial.

Beautician In Training?

Gwendelynne decided that she was going to do Madelyne’s makeup, and Madelyne allowed it. What followed was a super cute photo opportunity, and a hilarious result. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed watching the “beauty parlor” session.


The Lie of the Modern Age

We live in a world where it is preferable to be something that you are not. Where false pretence and misdirection are status quo. Television, magazines and ads bombard you immoral messages. Self seeking, self pleasuring, self gratifying and chasing after carnal desire rather than being the men and women that we were created to be, in communion with the Divine, are what takes precedence. No one is what they seem. The person that you see on Facebook, so happy… are they really? The relationship that seems to be perfect online… is it?
The murderer isn’t to blame because his father beat him. The rapist was drunk, it’s not his fault. The protesters looted, because they got caught up in the heat of the moment. No one is to blame for their own behaviour. The evil inclination has fooled us. It has taken root and it is in control of our world. We are told that up is down, left is right, evil is good. The very moral fabric of the world is being turned on its head.
So what is my message to my beloved religious education students? Just this: In a world where it is not acceptable to be men and women of God, where being yourself is not O.K., where standing for right gets you labelled archaic and fanatical, in this world where it is no longer acceptable to be what you were created to be, I dare you to be you. Be the person that your parents have striven to help you become.
Follow the conscience that the world is trying to silence. Pray. Believe. Listen to the inner voice. Reject evil, no matter how many others are telling you that it is good. Be men and women of God. Reject the world, and embrace all that will ensure your place in the world that is to come. In a world where being FAKE is preferred, be real. In a world where God is dead, show them that He is alive. In a world where being who you were created to be is labelled bigotry, be the best you that you can be anyway.
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” ― Leo Tolstoy
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
“More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.” ― Glen Cook
“Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.” ― Winston S. Churchill
“Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri
“The fact that good people can be forced to do wrong doesn’t make them less good. But it also doesn’t make the wrong less wrong.” ― Ovadya ben Malkaa