Friday, December 03, 2004

The Prayer of Faith 

RCIA on Monday will be Chapter 15: The Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick in Michael Pennocks, "The is Our Faith." One of the opening quotes is from James 5:15
The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."
I note that this does not say the sick person will be healed. I have no doubt that miraculous cures happen, but I struggle with faith healers and those who speak in tongues. I am very glad, in this Chapter, to find the Sacraments of Healing are nothing, nothing like faith healing. I'm very glad we don't see Catholics dancing with poisonous snakes.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Methodist Jury Convicts Lesbian Minister 

Methodist Jury Convicts Lesbian Minister. There was a case just like this earlier in the year and the lesbian minister was found not-guilty in that case. This article states that whatever loophole used last time was closed.

Shell Oil Films and Neanderthals 

While watching a special with my sons the other day about hurricane Andrew, I told them it was the kind of film that our teachers used to show us in school. If memory serves, they were produced by the Shell Oil Company. These days, films in school are either on VHS tapes or DVD's. The thing with actual film, I told my sons, was that when the teacher removed the film from the can to load it onto the projector, you knew how long the movie was going to be: the little films were on small reels and the big films were on big reels -- you could even see how full the reels were, watch them spin and see how much of the movie was left.

Film reels are interesting: you can see the reel in an instant, the whole two hours can be seen entire, at a glance, rolled up there on the reel. Consider how different people see the film: the projectionist sees the film as a few minutes' work, to load it and then relax; the audience sees the film as a couple hours of enjoyment and abandon; the actor sees it as months of his or her life taken up in the effort; the director sees it as a year or more of vision, cutting and pasting, making a product. Think of the Lord of the Rings movies. All three of the movies were filmed at the same time over 14 months or so in New Zealand and then the special effects guys and Peter Jackson spent years editing and putting the final product together. I saw Elijah Wood (Frodo) interviewed and he told the story of having to stand for several hours, every morning, while the makeup artists put on his hobbit feet... and many of those shots ended up on the cutting room floor. He thinks of that time, time spent to no end, when he sees sections of the movie where his feet are hidden.

Time is a funny thing.

Why do I bring this up? I'm re-reading a book called "Neanderthal" by John Darnton. When the subject of fossils came up once in college, during a discussion of God, a friend told me I was limiting God. I've thought a lot about that over the years. In fact, I've thought about relativity and God. Einstein put himself, in a thought experiment, on beam of light traveling away from a clock. The clock, to Einstein, never moved. To Einstein, this meant that time is relative: a person traveling fast will experience less time than a person traveling slowly. This was proven by astronauts using watches. Two watches synchronized, one on earth and one orbiting earth at thousands of miles an hour, will not be synchronized when the orbiting watch returns.
During a Shuttle mission, the orbital speed is only a tiny fraction of the speed of light (namely, 1/42857th). So, the "time dilation," as the effect is called, is also tiny, but it is there, nevertheless, as Shuttle experiments have proven. For example, a highly precise atomic clock flying in an experiment called NAVEX on STS-61A/Challenger in 1985 measured a slowdown of 0.000,000,000,295 seconds for each second of flight, almost exactly what Einstein’s formulas predicted.
Consider how fast we are moving. As the earth spins on its axis, we in Indiana are moving at around 700 miles an hour (faster at the equater, slower at the poles). While I'm spinning at 700 miles per hour, I'm also moving through space, around the sun, at 67,000 miles per hour. The sun itself, our solar system, is also spinning around the center of the milky way galaxy. It takes 250 million years for the sun to travel once around the center of the milky way. Our solar system is traveling at 74,000 mph around the center of the milky way. In addition, our whole milky way galaxy is moving through space at 372,000 miles per hour. The group of galaxies we're in, our super cluster, is moving through space at over 1,000,000 miles per hour. In fact, our super cluster is moving away from the location of the Big Bang (background radiation) at over 2,200,000 miles per hour. So multiples upon multiples of spinning, rotating, and revolving, on grander and grander scales end up with amazing speed. The speed of light itself is over 670,600,000 miles per hour.

The thing is, all of this makes no difference to Time unless there is a reference point outside of the Universe to see it from. To someone standing outside the universe, our human lives, the lives of planets and stars themselves, would be moving so fast it would seem like that movie reel, entire, complete and static all at once. We, to that someone standing outside, would seem like a paragraph, a sentence within a 1,000 page Stephen King book. We would be a second, a milli-second, in the middle of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that runs for hours and hours. That someone outside of the universe would be holding the book, holding the reel of film, entire. The beginning, middle, and end would be all complete at once, they would all be happening at the same time. Time, in fact, would have no meaning between us and that person, Time itself would be static, unmoving, meaningless.

Fossils? God wrote the book, God filmed the movie... look at the Earth like that entire reel of film -- we walked in to the movie in the middle. What's in all that film that's already run through the projector? What's in the film to come? To God, it's all the same, it all exists at once, at the same time... he sees the reel entire, spinning. To God, all men are being born today. I'm being born the same day as Noah, the same day as David. I'm dying the same day as everyone else. In heaven, perhaps everyone dies on the same day. Perhaps, when I die, I'll be opening my eyes to God at the same time as Moses, at the same time as my grandfather: imagine the rejoicing in heaven if that were the case.

Forgive the rambling.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I used to watch a bit of "My Wife and Kids" because I think Damon Wayans is funny. I hadn't seen the show in quite awhile but watched it last night and was really disgusted with it. The show began with their little girl, Kady, who's played by an eight year old actress, talking about her "gaydar" going off and telling her older sister about kids in her class who are gay and don't even know it yet. She went on to tell her teenage sister that her boyfriend was gay, too. Later, the even younger actor who plays the genius child Franklin, pulled the teenage boyfriend down, slapped him across the face and told him to act like a man.

I find nothing funny in putting these types of thoughts, words and actions into the mouths of child actors. I'll stick with taped repeats of the Andy Griffith show where a seven year old Opie would likely have been beaten to a pulp by any Mayberry teenager he tried to slap... beaten, I might add, most likely with Andy's blessing. When I was young, all twelve years of our school attended in the same building, we all rode the same bus (high schoolers didn't all have cars then)... young kids knew enough to stay out of the big kids' way. We knew, in effect, much more about how the world works and much less about it's perversions.

Isn't it strange that today on the one hand we hardly allow our children the opportunity to be injured -- by removing snowballs, swings, dodgeball, exploration of lakes and ponds and woods, etc. from their lives -- while on the other hand we value life so little (see Euthanasia in the Netherlands ). My uncle tells me the story of pulling my father out of the river after he broke through the thin ice while playing at recess during school. A school where I live in Indiana suspended a few first grade boys for just kicking snow into the air a couple years ago... they are not allowed to touch snow. It's strange, this dichotomy, this reverence for unvalued life; strange enough to twist kids' minds.

ps. Speaking of Ron Howard. How sad that someone who seems so grounded as him and Tom Hanks are going to do a DaVinci Code movie. I wonder if Andy Griffith believes that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were an item? I wonder how that idea would have gone over in Mayberry.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Penance Service 

The Penance Service started last night with the hymn "Come O Come Emmanuel." I'd estimate there were approximately 150, maybe 200 people in the pews. I saw several entire families with their children, more senior citizens than anyone else, but plenty of middle-agers like me. I stayed in the back pew.

After the song, our priest said an Advent prayer and we had a reading from 2nd Peter 3. We sang a responsive psalm and then a reading from the Gospel of St. Mark Chapter 13. Where Jesus says,
Mar 13:32 "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Mar 13:33 Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.
Mar 13:34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
Mar 13:35 Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning--
Mar 13:36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.
Mar 13:37 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."
Our priest then spoke a short homily. He talked about being watchful because we don't know when the Lord will come or whether we will be alive when He does. I can paraphrase some of what he said:
"I stood up here last year and said, be watchful, don't let the Lord come and find you sleeping. Since that time, some in our Parish have died and the Lord has come for them. Be vigilant, be alert... watch. Be prepared for the Lord, don't listen to all the voices telling us not to worry, if Jesus didn't come in 2000 He'll wait another 1000 years, at least. Don't listen to our culture, which tells us everything is OK... we need this sacrament, God offers us grace to avoid temptation if only we will reach for it, take it."
After this, we kneeled and prayed the Our Father. Then seven area priests were introduced and they moved to all the different corners and nooks and crannies of our church to hear confessions. We had a little pamphlet that went through the 10 commandments and reminded us of what sins regarding each commandment are common.

As people lined up, I left the church since I'm not yet eligable to partake in this Rite. The whole preparation took less than 20 minutes and with seven priests it looked like the confessions themselves would not take too long for everyone. This was an interesting service. From what I've read, since Mass has been said in English (or whatever local language), fewer and fewer people have been taking part in the Rite of Reconcilation. One theory is that now that people can understand the Mass, they realize that weekly they are asking God for forgiveness of sins, they realize that Mass, itself, is a form of reconciliation and most don't feel the need for confession. This sounds reasonable to me, but then, I'm a newbie.

Monday, November 29, 2004

RCIA tonight is attending our annual Penance Service. Our parish will have seven priests, including our own, in-house to hear confessions and our RCIA class is to attend, take part in the prayers and readings, but not confess yet ourselves.

I think all Christians link the coming birthday of Jesus to His return in the end days, but all churches don't practice the sacrament of reconcilation. I both look forward to and rather dread confession. As a Methodist, I certainly sought forgiveness of sin on my own, in the privacy of my prayers and heart. I can tell you that this didn't always feel successful: I felt the need to revisit and seek forgiveness for the same instances of sin multiple times. So I look forward to laying these instances down for good (I hope), and yet I do not look forward to having to share them with a priest. I find this somewhat similar to being worried about health problems or dental problems... looking forward to not having the problem anymore, but fearing the process of getting there. Really, why shouldn't it be the same. Sick body, sick tooth, sick spirit... they seek their own expert.

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