September 2nd, 2005

beats working

Extended family ups and downs

The good news is that my cousin Mark (whom I haven't seen in years) is safe and sound following Hurricane Katrina. Mark lived on a houseboat in Slidell, Louisiana. He left in good time and is in Bloomington, Indiana, staying with his mom. But he's probably lost everything, and probably doesn't have a job to go back to. It'll take time for him to sort it all out, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, my Uncle Charlie died this week in Miamisburg, Ohio (a suburb of Dayton). He was 81. He and Aunt Marge shared a room in a nursing home. My Aunt Pat called from Florida to say that he smiled at his nurse, looked at Aunt Marge, then turned his head and breathed his last. Not a bad way to go.

Uncle Charlie's funeral is Saturday, and none of his siblings can attend. Aunt Evelyn in Florida is very frail and undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Aunt Pat (also in Florida) is also not very well; she and Uncle Bud have just moved their 20-year-old granddaughter in with them, too, and she is getting established with school and job and so forth. Uncle Bill (Newell) in South Bend is undergoing tests for an elevated PSA, and not up to going. It may turn out that my father's funeral seven years ago will be the last time that family was all together.

Anyway, my sister Claire wants to go to the funeral, and I figure I ought to play dutiful nephew and go. As the youngest in my family, I've never kept up with all my cousins scattered across the landscape. My sisters chatter on about people -- and recognize them when we meet at the odd funeral (and given the Collins clan, "odd" is the word) -- but I feel like a stranger. Nevertheless, I'll enjoy the day with Claire and endure what I must at the funeral.

That last sentence brings to mind a bit of family lore. My mother had a gossipy old friend in Greenwood, Indiana, whom she kept up with after we moved to Spencer (when I started 2nd grade). The friend's name was Marian. Marian attended a funeral where she ran into all sorts of people she hadn't seen for years and years. In relating her experience to Mother, she said, "I don't know if it's proper to say this, Margaret, but I enjoyed that funeral so much."

Here's hoping.
rose window

dunamis kai exousia

We were talking about bishops last night, and I believe I shocked Scott and Kyle by saying that a United Methodist bishop has far more real power than a bishop in any of the liturgical Churches -- and then proceeded to explain that. Key to a UM bishop's clout is his right of appointment: he can say to the Rev. Joe Blow, "I want your sorry podex in Doodlesburg by next Sunday." And the Rev. Blow must pack up his nearest and dearest and change appointments, or drop out of the pastoral merry-go-round.

The Methodist episcopate, you see, was not modeled off some theory of what St. Peter was authorized to do -- it was modeled directly off the practical experience of how John Wesley actually behaved. John Wesley was far more in command of his band of followers than Simon Peter ever was of his. "I did not join you," he explained to his sometimes frustrated preachers, "you joined me." Imagine ol' Peter trying that one on St. Paul.

In this country, Francis Asbury did as John Wesley did in England. And despite many protests over many years, UM bishops have continued to wield the power of Mr. Wesley over the Connection. They may not have the pedigree of bishops in other Churches, but they sure got the power.