08 July 2013

A Couple of Changes

I began blogging in early 2009, when I was still Rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Kansas City, MO.  My clergy team thought it would be a good way to provide additional depth to our communication with the congregation...as well as extend ourselves "beyond our walls."  I heartily agreed.

The material I was transmitting at the outset was "train of thought" reflections on life in the Church and its impact on our surrounding culture.  Life in the Church is like a tide.  Going out, there is something of the shoreline contained in the waters.  Coming in, there is something of the ocean depths that arrives near/on the shore.  As much as I shared of the Church's perspective on life in surrounding culture, so the culture impacted the Church...mostly through the gathering community. There is always a fluid and dynamic boundary and relationship.

Upon retirement on 30 June 2011, my focus obviously changed.  It took me some time to adapt to the shift.  Since I have never removed any of the blogs, one might see how retirement shifted my presentation.  My posts are not as regular, and my field of reflection has expanded considerably.   I am a priest, and that is an inextricable part of who I am.  It will always be.

However, I am also a person deeply interested in the world around me.  Had I not become a priest, I might have easily become a medical specialist of some kind (I was on a path to becoming a doctor), an anthropologist, a clinical psychologist or in some non-medical biological field.  My deep interest in those disciplines, and in history itself, never waned.  In retirement, I read a great deal in those areas.  Because being a theologian requires a fundamental grasp of philosophical disciplines, my reflections run in that vein....the hows and wherefores of who and what we are as created beings.

Because my work in the Episcopal Church is no longer structured by the disciplines of daily parochial life, I am freer to reflect more broadly and with greater personal conviction.  In essence, I no longer have to be as concerned about how my parishioners may react or respond to what I have to say.  It is a sad shame that theologically trained persons have to be tempered by the socio-political climates of their parishes.  Jesus certainly set no such limitations (nor did he practice them in his discourses).  Upon deeper reflection, being "politically correct" and "theologically narrow" created for me a deep frustration.  My primary goal in parish ministry was to maintain a balanced community that was, at one time, both diverse and interactive in that diversity.  I was largely successful.  The price I paid was, for the most part, personal.  I kept my own counsel on many issues -- sharing them only with my bishops or spiritual directors.  Twice, when I stepped into personal conviction, I ended up feeling the "lash of intolerance" and the resulting attempts to marginalize both my parochial authority and leadership.  This is not unique to me but happens to a vast majority of ordained priests in the Episcopal Church....unless one is purposefully seeking to monochromize the parish (i.e. create the parish in one's own image or become a complete chameleon in an already monochrome setting...both of which are contributing reasons for the decreasing numbers).

In now being free of the above circumstances, I am less constrained in sharing how I see spirituality and culture interfacing at any given moment.   And, yes, that interface shifts...just like the shoreline I mentioned above.  Therefore, this blog reflects more of what is happening "now" --- as in this moment of writing.  These words will be those of one who is moving through and engaging the world on a variety of levels.  There are family and friends who have determined for themselves the "groove" in which I find habitation.  Family and friends have friends who talk; and the words that come back are not always flattering.  Human nature seems to demand that everything be categorized or placed in readily identifiable containers.  It sucks, but I can't change it...other than to say to everyone in general:  I am probably not where you think I am on whatever scale or categorization you are using.  I read stuff and engage folks on a lot of levels, because that's what I believe means the most...and I shift as I experience and learn.

This upgraded blog "Reflections on the Journey" will continue to not be a "one trick pony."  I own what I write; however, what I write today may be at variance with what I wrote a month ago.  I am not fickle.  It means I have learned something new, factored it into my experiences and made a shift in my sitz im leben  (seat in life).

The artwork applied to this blog is courtesy of artists who wish to remain anonymous but are public  in their presentations.  Both relate to psychological and Native American expressions.  I am a Jungian psychologist (undergraduate studies and graduate level work) and apply stories of psyche to art.  That is the bear that now appears as the frontpiece title background.  The bison (aka buffalo) is Tatanka in the Lakota language and represents the majesty and power of those people...and of most Plains First Nations.

I look forward to continuing to share my experiences and always invite reflective responses.  Please, this is not Fox News, MSNBC or CNN.  No nastiness or bullshit is either necessary or welcome.

Love and Blessings,


1 comment:

  1. Your post is timely my friend. I'm on sabbatical in East Jerusalem (since June 1) and just today came to the realization that though I'm often accused of having strong "social justice" opinions, I have very rarely ever proclaimed them from the pulpit. I pray that God would give me the moral courage to speak plainly and from my heart without hesitation or fear of losing my authority as rector. I need to preach whatever Jesus needs me to proclaim. Pray for me hermano.