Monday, January 28, 2008

Priests and Workers Cry "Nun Intimidation!"

From the SanFrancisco Gate

Labor organizing can be tense under the best of circumstances, but in bucolic Sonoma County, one such effort has escalated to a theological debate of sorts, pitting Catholic nuns against their ecclesiastic brethren in a dispute involving labor rights, the church's social teachings and a multibillion-dollar business.

On one side are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, who operate Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital as part of the $3.35 billion St. Joseph Healthcare System, a business that supports their order. On the other are local priests, labor leaders and hospital employees who have accused management of creating an atmosphere of intimidation.

The tension has escalated in recent months, which have been punctuated by marches, vigils and meetings.

Read the whole article

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Moving Day

The professional packers and movers have arrived and set to work. Our home and lives, already boxed and stacked in a garage, are being carefully and efficiently unpacked, inventoried, repacked, and stored for a journey across land and sea.

Something about moving makes stages of life stark, divisions bold, it raises seams in the patchwork. It also forces the question.

With every box moved - every crafted piece of ourselves possessed by and entrusted to another - I am asked over and over again: am I really doing this? Am I ready? What is happening to me?

I would be such a bad Buddhist, with such attachment to things. It is funny how much we identify our own personhood and identity with objects. (Of course, this might make me a poor Christian, too, if one takes Luke 18:18-30 seriously.)

I may be making too existentialist a point of this. It may just be the rising anxiety of change, of shift, of newness and unknowing. That strange brew of fear and eagerness, foreboding and adventure, wanting to hold back and the ardent desire to just get going already.

And to add to all the other complexities, Seattle woke up this morning under a blanket of snow. Anyone familiar with the peoples of the Puget Sound will remember that a half-centimeter of crystaline precipitation is enough to shut the region down. There is no infrastructure to clear or handle snow, and there is apparently no widespread sense of how to drive in even the smallest amount of it. And I'm located on the top of a kind of hill.

So our departure is covered with a film of newness, cleanliness, and is made a bit slippery. We have to watch our footing around here - and, I suppose, accept the possibility of falling a few times on our way. Such is life. Not just the life of a minister or a disciple; just life in general. After all, ministers are people, too; and disciples. Life is uncertain and slippery for all of us.

And, I think, we're all probably moving, too, one way or another.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 8, 37

It is cold. We're all hungry, dirty, embarrassed and poor. Frankly, I'm close to being done with all this. It's either feast or famine with this guy - crowds one day, empty graveyards the next; miracles and praise one day, getting run out of town on a rail the next. What kind of messiah is this? What kind of resistance movement, or holiness movement, or... anything, are we starting here?

I've spent too many nights away from my wife, my children haven't had a father or food for two years now... and if this is all for naught... I can't do this anymore.

I am beginning to hate him. I can't rely on him to lead or even to give us direction, let alone food or shelter or an occasional bath! Hell, I'd be able to forgive failure if we had something we were definitely working for, if we had a concrete vision. But all we've been doing is wandering around - sometimes moving people, sometimes not, but not gaining any momentum or gathering any forces, not organizing or mobilizing people. We're no closer to seeing Zion freed than when we started - and I'm sick of it.

But I'm still here.


Honestly, I don't know. I'd hate to say it was just habit now; or that I can't face my family or friends again after having run out on them and abandoned them for two years now. But is that all? Is that all?

It may be feast or famine, but the feasts are so good - at times it seems that people around him could do anything. We really could change the world! Even if that doesn't hold - there's something there. Something I can't so easily leave - even if I don't always believe.

Written recently as an exercise in Seminary.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Quote of the Week

Henri Bergson, a French philosopher in the early 1900's, wrote with such force and poetic style that in 1928 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In 1939 he was so reknowned and respected that the occupying Nazi army exempted him from restrictions placed on other Jews. A few weeks before his death, despite the exemption offered him, at the age of eighty-one he left his sickbed to stand in a queue in order to register as a Jew and so shame the German-inspired Vichy government that had barred Jews from holding educational posts in France. And he renounced all the honors whose retention might have been taken for his approval of the government. He made his position clear in a passage in his will:
My reflections have led me closer and closer to Catholicism, in which I see the fulfillment of Judaism. I would have become a convert, had I not forseen for years a formidable wave of anti-Semitism about to break upon the world. I wanted to remain among those who tomorrow were to be prosecuted.

(Taken from The Seekers, by Daniel J. Boorstin.)

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Upcoming Local Young Adult Event

The Young Adults of Puget Sound (YAPS) will be co-hosting a young adult activity with the Vancouver congregation Jan. 12-13. The activity will include a trip to the UBC Museum of Anthropology (small fee) on the afternoon of the 12th, and then a spaghetti dinner, games & karaoke that evening at the church. Please attend as many or as few of these activities as you like, but let us know if you plan on coming for dinner.

On the 13th, the visiting young adults will be in charge of the regular morning service, to be followed with a potluck lunch. The potluck will be a chance to show our appreciation for the service offered by this group. All young adults are invited to the activities on the 12th, and all are invited to attend the service & potluck on the 13th.

Contact Sean Langdon ( or Shannon McAdam ( for more information, or to rsvp for the activities on the 12th (we need to know how much spaghetti to make).

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