Friar John's Ruminations

Being the thoughts of an Episcopalian Layman. In Search of and service to "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order."

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Friday, August 31, 2007

There is an oft repeated bit of data that the derivation of the term "Faggot" for gay men derives from the practice of throwing homosexuals on the pyres of witches/heretics. The problem is that, when I was researching the views on sexuality in the middle ages I couldn't actually find a reference to it in the scholarly literature. When I was combing through the inquisitional documents from the time period I also couldn't find a single reference. Same for the chronicles. None of these documents hesitated to mention any number of other practices, but this one was no where to be seen. Indeed, the uses in Europe tend that "faggot" and its cognates tend to mean "cigarette" or the more obscure use of a unit of measurement. The fact that the main root of American English (British English) has no reference to sexuality for the term is telling. The OED points out that use for a gay man is American in derivation, which is also quite telling.
Digging around I found that the derivation is kind of weird. The use of the term for a person meant "indigent old woman" and was a contraction of "faggot gatherer' (i.e.: a person who made money gathering wood).Probably the derivation of the term is from there. The source of the Urban Legend comes from a rather poorly written and researched book entitled Another Mother Tongue by Judy Grahn. <

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From the NYT:
August 29, 2007 Op-Ed Contributor

A Saint’s Dark Night

THE stunning revelations contained in a new book, which show that Mother Teresa doubted God’s existence, will delight her detractors and confuse her admirers. Or is it the other way around? The private journals and letters of the woman now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta will be released next month as “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” and some excerpts have been published in Time magazine. The pious title of the book, however, is misleading. Most of its pages reveal not the serene meditations of a Catholic sister confident in her belief, but the agonized words of a person confronting a terrifying period of darkness that lasted for decades.
“In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss,” she wrote in 1959, “of God not wanting me — of God not being God — of God not existing.” According to the book, this inner turmoil, known by only a handful of her closest colleagues, lasted until her death in 1997. Gleeful detractors may point to this as yet another example of the hypocrisy of organized religion. The woman widely known in her lifetime as a “living saint” apparently didn’t even believe in God. It was not always so. In 1946, Mother Teresa, then 36, was hard at work in a girls school in Calcutta when she fell ill. On a train ride en route to some rest in Darjeeling, she had heard what she would later call a “voice” asking her to work with the poorest of the poor, and experienced a profound sense of God’s presence. A few years later, however, after founding the Missionaries of Charity and beginning her work with the poor, darkness descended on her inner life. In 1957, she wrote to the archbishop of Calcutta about her struggles, saying, “I find no words to express the depths of the darkness.” But to conclude that Mother Teresa was a crypto-atheist is to misread both the woman and the experience that she was forced to undergo. Even the most sophisticated believers sometimes believe that the saints enjoyed a stress-free spiritual life — suffering little personal doubt. For many saints this is accurate: St. Francis de Sales, the 17th-century author of “An Introduction to the Devout Life,” said that he never went more than 15 minutes without being aware of God’s presence. Yet the opposite experience is so common it even has a name. St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, labeled it the “dark night,” the time when a person feels completely abandoned by God, and which can lead even ardent believers to doubt God’s existence.
During her final illness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is now widely revered as “The Little Flower,” faced a similar trial, which seemed to center on doubts about whether anything awaited her after death. “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into,” she said to the sisters in her convent. But Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints. In time, with the aid of the priest who acted as her spiritual director, Mother Teresa concluded that these painful experiences could help her identify not only with the abandonment that Jesus Christ felt during the crucifixion, but also with the abandonment that the poor faced daily. In this way she hoped to enter, in her words, the “dark holes” of the lives of the people with whom she worked. Paradoxically, then, Mother Teresa’s doubt may have contributed to the efficacy of one of the more notable faith-based initiatives of the last century. Few of us, even the most devout believers, are willing to leave everything behind to serve the poor. Consequently, Mother Teresa’s work can seem far removed from our daily lives. Yet in its relentless and even obsessive questioning, her life intersects with that of the modern atheist and agnostic. “If I ever become a saint,” she wrote, “I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ ” Mother Teresa’s ministry with the poor won her the Nobel Prize and the admiration of a believing world. Her ministry to a doubting modern world may have just begun.

James Martin is a Jesuit priest and the author of “My Life With the Saints.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Five nominees for the 12th Bishop of Chicago were received from the Bishop Search Committee and announced Aug. 28, 2007 by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s governing body, the Standing Committee, subject to completion of background checks:
The Rev. Jane S. Gould, Priest-in-Charge / Rector, St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church, Lynn, Mass.
The Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, Rector, St. Thomas Church, Medina, Wash.
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean, Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio
The Rev. Margaret R. Rose, Director of Women's Ministries, The Episcopal Church
The Rev. Timothy B. Safford, Rector, Christ Church, Philadelphia

Additional candidates can be nominated through a petition process overseen by the Standing Committee. Information about that process is available online at

And there we are. Trust the Diocies that gave us +Frank Grizwald to now ratchet up the stress right befor the House of Bishops meeting. If the color above was unclear, the following will make it obvious:

August 28, 2007
Integrity Responds to List of Candidates for Bishop of Chicago“The big news today is that discernment has trumped discrimination in the Diocese of Chicago,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “The inclusion of the Very Rev. Tracey Lind on the list of five extraordinarily qualified candidates for Bishop of Chicago is a bold step forward and a sign of hope and encouragement not only to LGBT Episcopalians but to the whole church. Her experience and leadership make her an excellent candidate and Integrity applauds the Diocese of Chicago for not allowing the forces advocating bigotry over ability to dominate their nomination process.It is long past time for the Episcopal Church to acknowledge that B033 -- the 2006 resolution designed to prevent the election of a gay or lesbian bishop – has failed in its attempt to balance the unity of the Anglican Communion on the backs of the LGBT faithful. There is no turning back on the full inclusion of the baptized into the Body of Christ – only moving forward into God’s future as an Episcopal Church committed to mission and ministry, to unity in diversity.Integrity extends congratulations to all the candidates, any one of whom will make a fine bishop for the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Chicago’s diverse list of qualified candidates is a sign of the end the ‘season of fasting’ at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church and the whole church should rejoice and be glad in that!”

What this means is that the HOB meeting in New Orleans will be even less fruitful as the tension will be made more and more palpable. This is only going to put everybody on the defensive, except for the network and So-called "Windsor bishops," this will put them on the attack. Once again, we have handed weapons to the enemy and God knows they are going to use them.
Before anyone gets all righteous and starts talking about “justice” and “doing the right thing” let me just say that there is doing the right thing, and doing it for the wrong reasons. I cannot help but think that this is a deliberate act of Boomer style defiance. Instead of pausing to think, they have handed righteous indignation to further cloud the meeting. This serves no matter what we may think of the Dean as a candidate, her going forward in the process is an irresponsible act that will make more trouble. We must thank Chicago for showing us how to do the right thing for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time.