January 16th, 2006


Fly with Christ

Well, the Lord sustained me throughout the three days of the Chrysalis flight I was helping lead. I almost lost my voice, I only got 5 hours of sleep per night, my sciatica was chewing on me, and I was half sick when I got there, but "he giveth me strength as my day." As a secretary of mine years ago used to say, "We'll all get over it if we live long enough." And now we have.

Twenty-two girls from all sorts of churches took part. They were the smartest, most challenging bunch of youth I've seen on a Chrysalis flight. During the Q&A following my talk on the sacraments (that traditional moment we call "stump the clergy" when they can write any question they can think of not covered elsewhere on a card -- and get an answer), we did NOT get "the baptism question." What we got were serious and probing questions about the resurrection and cremation, homosexuality, whether animals go to heaven, eucharistic theology, purgatory, prayer to saints, contemporary music . . . I had earlier been cornered by an entire Table (whose table name was -- I am not making this up -- The Mesa of Congeries) who wanted to ask me about Christianity and other religions, why we thought ours was true and theirs wasn't (if that's what we thought), etc. Good stuff.

The chapel services were powerful, and team came together and worked very hard. It was great. And I'm glad it's over. I've been wrung out, sung out, and flung out. We done, we bad, we gone. Yay!

Regarding Table Names: Youth on a Chrysalis flight spend most of their three days in a small group format. Each group, or Table, makes up a name for itself. On Walks to Emmaus, these Table Names are a given -- they're all Bible characters (I sat at the Table of James). But the youth do it themselves, with the result that they create some odd monikers. Our Table Names this weekend were the aforementioned Mesa of Congeries, the Olympic Angels, the Tiger Lilies (not a clue, don't ask), and All God's Chillin'.

As each Table was deciding on its name-to-be, one group called me over. They wanted to know what the Latin was for different. I couldn't recall. That's okay, any language would do. I suggested some German words. They didn't like those. I asked why they wanted to know. "Because we're all different," they replied. I suggested congeries. "What's that mean?" they asked. It's a jumbled mass of different things, I said. That was very cool to them. And since mesa means "table," that's how they became the Mesa of Congeries. One girl asked what language congeries was. "English," I replied. (Much laughter) Then I said, "I realize that's not a strong point of South Dearborn High School, but . . ." (Even more laughter)

Jean and Nikki and Kiki from our church worked this flight, and that_guy_zach helped serve the Special Dinner Saturday night. Phred and LaJo also worked this flight. collinsmom came to Candlelight, which was enormously appreciated by me, even though I couldn't step out of the procession to greet her. The Sisters of St. Francis at Oldenburg were gracious hosts, and they really dug our agape items. They even came to our Closing (and took communion with us! in a service led by a woman minister! gadzooks). The Prayer Vigils got filled (finally!). The Boys Flight ends this afternoon. Thank you to all who prayed. Thanks be to God most of all.

An Analogy of Mine

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God . . . I haven't heard this sappy bit of Gaither hymnody in a while, but it sprang to mind this morning. I was re-reading a post in which yechezkiel had an analogy about Western and Eastern theology that drew a lot of fire. The discussion made me think, not for the first time, about the polemics I see among my friends and colleagues. I relate professionally mostly to low-church Protestants; on-line, most of my LJ friends are Anglican, Catholic, or Orthodox (at least, those I talk shop with).

Thinking not theologically, but relationally, I see Christianity as afflicted with the same dysfunctions as many families. The rhetoric coming from my Catholic and Orthodox friends when they start talking about Visible Unity and all that reminds me of nothing so much as a pair of divorced partners continuing the argument over who left whom, whose fault it was, you always . . ., etc. It makes me sick.

We Protestants are like the children of that divorced couple. Our father, who shaped our mind, is the Eastern Church of the Creeds; our mother, who shaped our habits, is the Western Church of our common liturgies. It distresses us when they argue. And it seems that until we pick one of them and admit they were right all along, we will not be acknowledged or loved. Regardless of the ecclesiological issues, as fellow-Christians we Protestants feel either manipulated or rejected.

Looking at the main Protestant traditions is like examining the children of that divorce. We carry the scars and have processed our upbringing in ways typical of such children. The Lutherans are the elder brother, replicating the self-righteousness and argumentative nature of our parents (hey, the Lutherans can't even all take communion with each other -- how weird is that?). The Anglicans are like the eldest sister, trying to earn Mother's approval by being a little momma to the other children, and also hoping that if she takes responsibility for everything, she can fix what's wrong: Daddy and Mommy will get back together and love us all again. And so on.

We Methodists are the step-child -- or maybe the bastard child -- of Anglicanism. Other Protestants I see are like the younger, less highly involved children and grandchildren, who have decided that the whole family is crazy, and so they're just going to go start their own and not get drawn into the weirdness again. Some would like to see the family together again, while others have hit the door and not stayed to see it swing shut.

How sad it all is, sometimes.