Archive for October, 2007

A word from Rev. Mario

October 30, 2007

From the cross, the power of His blood flowed into the earth to make the earth his own.  It is the earth which is symbolised by the host used during Holy Communion. We say, ‘This is His body.’ Symbolically, because the host is round, we are lifting up the earth and saying the earth is His body.  This means that we are also being sustained by the body of Christ in the food we eat.  The more that we identify ourselves with Christ, both spiritually and physically, in our eating and drinking habits, etc., the more we take the Christ within ourselves.

– from Mario Schoenmaker, The Ultimate Vision: The Revelation to John, Development Course Lecture 2, page 5.

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Directory

October 28, 2007

Many of you know about the very helpful Directory of Autocephalous Bishops which +Karl Pruter used to publish annually. This effort has now been taken up by +Brian Brown, who hopes to put out a fully updated 2008 edition by sometime in the spring (for us northern hemisphere dwellers – autumn for y’all running around on the southern half of the planet).  If you are interested in listing yourself, you can find an on-line form and more info on the project here:

http://www.autocephalous.net/

“What is an itkin, anyway?”

October 26, 2007

This is a question famously asked of indie bishop +Mikhail Itkin by Dusty Verity, and was used as the title of an essay on Itkin by Ian Young.   There is a book project on Itkin in the works.  I am a contributor, and I know Ian Young and Mark Sullivan (who are coordinating) would be delighted to hear from anyone with memories, letters, or (better yet) knowledge of the location of his personal papers.   Drop me a comment and I can put you in touch.

 Also, the little gremlins (Mercury Retrograde? The ghost of Mikhail Itkin?  My computer incompetance?) managed to turn off the comments.  Sorry about that.  I only meant to leave them on moderation.  I’m too busy to keep an eye on the site all the time, and moderation helps me know if y’all are having an interesting discussion.   I think I have succeeded in turning the comments back on.  Have fun and Happy Friday!

Praying in secret?

October 25, 2007

Alexis Tancibok (http://gracecatholic.blogspot.com) has raised an interesting issue regarding whether the priesthood is always a public office.  Alexis’ position (which is basically yes) struck me as an interesting counterpoint to that held by a couple of esoteric bishops who administer a vow of secrecy to their ordinands: a promise not to reveal their priesthood to anyone unless the other person has a “soul need” to know.

Perhaps this is a situation where Ken Wilber’s dictum “everyone is right, but everyone is also partial” applies.  Alexis is surely right that priesthood is not some sort of personal possession wrapped tightly around an individual ego.  Rather, by its very nature, it is turned outward in service and love.  Tim C, in a comment, wisely points out that even a private mass is for the good of the world.  As a dyed-in-the-wool esotericist, I think even our “inner” lives (our thoughts, feelings, etc) flow out to the world and back again in ways we rarely suspect.  A greater recognition of the “public” character of all our spiritual work is clearly beneficial

On the other hand, the ISM has long suffered from an overdose of public clericalism.   As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have no problem with a very high percentage of ISM folks being ordained.   But I cringe when priesthood becomes a mask that we wear to prop ourselves up, to impress others, to posture and carry on.  “I am the Most Rev and Almighty Apostolic Bishop So and So.”  Please.   I disagree with a vow of secrecy about the priesthood.  However, what would happen if (for an Advent discipline, say) we decided to hold back from always taking every opportunity to present ourselves in all our clerical glory… or silliness?  Rather, as we encounter new friends, maybe we could inwardly question whether it really serves the other person to know we are ordained (at least at that moment) – or by telling them, do we primarily serve ourselves?  Or even if they do know, who is served by emphasizing it (e.g., using titles)?  The answer will be different in every case

If we look to the example of Jesus, he taught publicly – and yet he also undertook many “private” actions: withdrawing from the crowds to pray alone, and offering a different level of instruction privately to the disciples.  Jesus was also without titles or credentials or special outfits – all of which have their place, and yet can easily form part of the distorting mask.  He was just some guy from Nazareth… whose words and actions displayed transforming grace to those with eyes to see.  The crucifixion, while grotesquely public, was understood by virtually none of its witnesses, and the resurrection was experienced only by the few.

Whether as unordained priests by virtue of our baptism, or as ordained clergy, we are called to mediate the grace of Christ to the world, to display God’s love in action.  How that happens is often a mystery which defies our expectations and changes with time.  Thus, we are wise to lay aside any expectations (and even more so, vows) that priestly work will take a particular form – public or private, known or unknown.  As we take the next step in front of us, the path will open.

Compassionate Eating: The Veganomicon

October 24, 2007

Some posts on priest-y issues are coming soon, but for those who haven’t seen it yet…..  Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero’s new cookbook is out – The Veganomicon – and it is fantastic.  I don’t care if you are a total omnivore who chases and kills animals in your backyard.   (Hey, I was born in Kentucky. I’ve seen such things.)  Well, actually, I do care… but this is plain good food, period, regardless of your choices about eating.   For details, see their website:  www.theppk.com

 A couple of other recent and excellent resources:   Mark Bittman (well known for his weekly column “The Minimalist” in The New York Times) has a new book called How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.   The book is octo-lavo, and Bittman is not a vegetarian.  Nonetheless, he’s full of great ideas, helpful suggestions, tasty recipes.   Dino Sarma’s first book, Alternative Vegan, is also well worth a look.   Dino’s recipes are focused on fresh produce (as opposed to soy products, seitan, and the like), and display broad-ranging influences, especially from his native India.  He’s also excellent at providing suggestions for cooking on a budget, and saving time without sacrificing quality.  Dino may be the next Isa Moskowitz!  He has a blog at http://altveg.blogspot.com/.

A prayer from Rev Kristina

October 20, 2007

A powerful prayer based on images from the Revelation of St John, composed by Kristina Kaine (www.esotericconnection.net)

You are the one who declares the Revelation of what we must become.
May we be able to hold the seven stars, those angels, in our right hand
because we are not confined to a limited form,
and walk in the middle of the seven golden lampstands;
because we carry the light of the Holy Spirit within us,
May we experience the first and the last, straddling eternal memory.
May we, like you, pass through death and become the living one; resurrected.
Let our words be a two-edged sword cutting away all illusion;
O, Son of God, may our eyes be like yours, a flame of fire, magnifying unseen detail,
and our feet like white-hot brass, refining and forging our understanding.
May we who have the seven spirits of God make them worthy and pure,
and cooperate with the seven stars,
the connecting angels working between our lower and higher being;
Holy one, true one,
who holds the key of David
which opens and no one shuts,
which shuts and no one opens;
You are the Amen,
faithful and true witness;
The arche of God’s creation.

Kristina’s book (I Connecting: The Soul’s Quest) was finally published during my break from blogging.  You can find information here: http://www.i-connecting.com

Wiccan cousins

October 19, 2007

I recently finished reading Wicca and the Christian Heritage by Joanne Pearson (Routledge, 2007).  As far as I know, Pearson is the first scholar to address the involvement of many early folks within the neo-pagan movement – Gerarld Gardner (founder of Wicca), Ross Nichols (founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids), etc.  – with what we now call independent sacramental churches.  She also examines points of connection in ritual and teaching between Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca on the one hand, and various forms of fringe Christianity and western esotericism on the other.  To say the least, it is an interesting read.

 Unfortunately (but perhaps unavoidably) Pearson draws heavily on an earlier generation of scholarship regarding independent churches – Anson, Brandreth, and the like.  Thus, some of their mistakes and questionable (hostile) interpretations have crept into her work.  I have written to her in hopes of starting a conversation about some of these matters.  I also want to encourage her to provide copies of documents (ordination certificates and the like), whether in a future edition or on a website.   For example, Pearson’s account of Gardner’s ordination is different from that of Morgan Davis – and only documentary evidence will finally sort it out.

Christian and Pagans are all too often hostile to one another.  It is within the independent sacramental movement that I have seen some of the most hopeful signs of dialogue, understanding, reconciliation and/or cross-fertilization across this great divide.  (See, for instance, the work of David Kling – “Fortitude of Spirit” on the blogroll.)  Thus, it is very interesting to know that those who began the modern Pagan revival were often simultaneously taking some part in independent Christian groups  – and apparently did not regard these traditions as mutually exclusive.  In addition to those persons discussed in depth by Pearson, I cannot help but recall Dion Fortune who was resurrecting the Rites of Isis at the same time that she was celebrating the mass with the Guild of the Master Jesus!

To offer only one final tidbit – Most traditions within Wicca ordain most or all initiated members as priests and priestesses. Pearson engages in some intriguing speculation about the development of this practice, and its possible connections to Gardner’s experience in independent churches with a similarly mostly-ordained constituency.  The possibility of historical causal influence in this practice had never occurred to me.  However, I have often thought we might be able to learn something from our Wiccan cousins about how to run a religion with a volunteer clergy that includes most members.  Pearson indicates that her next book is going to be about priest/esshood in Wicca, and I eagerly look forward to her further examination of these issues.

Free Priests

October 18, 2007

I am going to start blogging again, really I am.  Probably with a slow start, but I’ve got some things I want to post over the next few weeks, so check back.  In the meanwhile…

For those who are interested in the idea of a “free priesthood,” a friend of mine has started a yahoogroup to discuss the topic and related issues, and to provide a place for comparing notes.  The website is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FreePriests/