My Trip to Montana, Part Two

I woke up Saturday morning a little stiff, but well-rested and comfortable. Bobbie, my host, filled me with coffee, banana, and fresh-baked bagels, and I set out bright and early to ride with Rev Ref, Mrs Ref, the Kid, and Rev Ref’s mom, on the two-hour drive from Sheridan to St. Peter’s Cathedral, Helena.

Rockies From Above


Originally uploaded by AKMA.

You may say, “A two-hour drive cooped up in a small car?” You may, but you would be overlooking the entertainment value of observing all the towns (read: “wide spots in the road”) we passed through, and the rippling ridges and peaks of the Rockies among which Todd piloted the coupe.

Joelene Dressing Todd

Vesting Todd

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

We encountered favorable driving conditions, got to the cathedral on time, and we all helped Todd get ordained.

Uh - - -

Bewildered Preacher

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

No one stomped out during my sermon, even though I made fun of the bishop a little, and Todd seemed satisfied that his preacher had done OK. I’ll append the sermon in the extended part of this post. I received from Todd my second new-priest’s-first-blessing (Andrea Mysen blessed me after her ordination, too), so bolstered by their sanctity, I have no excuse for my on-going impiety.

The service was not short, and the festive reception was also leisurely, and the trip back to Sheridan was no shorter than the trip from Sheridan to Helena had been, so we were pretty tired when we got back to the rectory. Todd showed me and his mom around the church in Sheridan (we wouldn’t be worshipping there Sunday, since the furnace has quit; sunday worship in Sheridan took place in the parish hall). Joelene (not “Jolene,” print shop!) fixed an artichoke lasagna that couldn’t be beat while we watched the CNN special about The Two Marys, and Fr. Ed, the Roman Catholic priest who lives next door, stopped in to congratulate Todd. We then staggered off to our various rooms to rest up for a very full day of church on Sunday.

But before I turned in, I went to plug my cell phone into the outlet, and discovered that Bobbie’s cat had chewed through the cord in several places, and had taken a nip out of my computer’s power cord for afters. This left us with a challenge for Sunday. . . .
Continue reading “My Trip to Montana, Part Two”

My Trip To Montana, Part One

If you can read this entry, I will have returned safely to Chicago after an exciting, educational cultural exchange trip to rural Montana. If you can’t read this entry, contact Margaret and tell her to post the travel entries that are waiting on my iBook.

Friday, Margaret dropped me off at the Delta terminal at O’Hare, itself an exciting new experience (since we’re steadfast United fliers). My flight took me from Chicago to Salt Lake City, and hence to Butte, Montana. Everything went just fine, except that my flight from SLC to Butte arrived a little late (as both Margaret and Rev. Ref firmly assured me. I didn’t notice; I was happy to get to Butte safely, where you will look in vain for a geological butte (although there’s a gigantic pit, a sort of reverse butte).

Sock Here

Found Sock

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

As my flight from Chicago drifted in toward Salt Lake City, I spotted the home neighborhood of Leta, Jon, Chuck, and dooce. I could tell because, as this photo demonstrates, I saw a single yellow sock on the sidewalk. If you can’t see the yellow sock, you aren’t using enough investigative imagination; a self-proclaimed journalist expounded details of Mary of Nazareth’s life that rested on much less evidence than I offer here — and she was on CNN, the home of Crossfire!

Guarding My Bed

Montana Decor

Originally uploaded by AKMA.

So anyway, I got to Butte satisfactorily; Todd drove me the hour from Butte to Sheridan, and handed me over to a delightful neighbor who sheltered me (in a suite equipped with a bearskin and a first-paperback-edition copy of I, Robot) and fed me breakfast during my visit. I turned in early, and slept like a top.

On My Way

The good news is that I have a complete sermon that I’m adequately comfortable with, so tomorrow’s service won’t include long, embarrassing pauses, “ummmm”s, aimless digressions, and a wild-eyed, sweaty, manic worship leader — at least, I won’t be doing that. I won’t speak for Todd or the Bishop.

In a few minutes, I’ll head for the airport, whence I fly to Salt Lake City, the land of dooce, and from there on to Montana. By the time I get back from Montana, I’ll be permitted to sleep upstairs again. You should know that Margaret is feeling fine, apart from the awkwardness of being aware of how long one’s sitting how close to whom. We won’t know for a while whether the treatment has had its desired effect.

And I gather from the Ref that Montana is not the nodal point of broadband connectivity, so I may not be posting much till I get back on Monday. No great loss to the world, but I’ll come back with pictures and stories and probably a backlog of random thoughts waiting to be posted, including (I hope) some observations on the questions people have been asking me about ethics and anarchism.

Explains A Lot

Our household has included a lot of Tintin reading over the years, and at least one Tintin t-shirt that’s been passed down from brother to brother to sister. Thus far, I had never stopped to consider the topic of this research paper. I had wondered why our dog Beatrice resembled Milou/Snowy so much in every way except intelligence, and what might have been done about Captain Haddock’s alcoholism, but Tintin’s stature and sexuality never caught my attention.

I draw no conclusion from the correlation of this research to the fact that both Trevor and James use Tintin as buddy icons for their AIM clients.

Good Morning

Well, I wouldn’t want to sleep downstairs in the study every night, but I did get my rest, and I’m not irradiated, and I’ll be so bold as to give my sweetheart a bear hug this morning.

Yesterday’s treatment was more anticlimactic than uncomfortable. Evidently, the doctor brought the large-ish pill out to her in a lead-lined container that she carried in a lead-lined box, as though it were a scene out of a James Bond movie. Right now, the biggest hitch — apart from having to keep our distance — is that we won’t really know for a few months whether Margaret’s thyroid has given up (as it’s supposed to) or whether she’ll need another go-round of radioactive iodine. (That substance, with the safeguards Margaret has described to me, reminds me not only of James Bond. It further call to mind the original Edmond O’Brien version of D.O.A., in which somebody slips the hero a dose of the mysterious “luminous poison,” “that has no antidote and is 100% fatal within the week.” I wish I had a screen shot of the postscript to the movie that explains that luminous poison really exists! Except in Margaret’s case, of course, the radioactive iodine is doesn’t really glow, and will have salutary effects on her health.)

So Margaret’s feeling just fine, and Dr. de Villa is feeling better too, unless his desire to watch Dr. Phil implies a dangerous decay in his capacity to form good judgments. Don’t tell Dr. Rageboy.

A Dozen Or So Students

If you add up Seabury students who have taken Greek with those who have expressed an interest in taking Greek next year if they can, and throw in my son who has taken Intro Greek twice, I can think of about twelve students who should be delighted by this link.

My Glowing Bride

This morning, as I write, Margaret is at the local hospital. She’s receiving treatment for her Graves Disease, which was diagnosed a couple of years ago and which has not abated after continuous heavy anti-thyroid; she ingested seventeen millicuries of some radioactive iodine, which is supposed to circulate to her thyroid and stop it dead. Once her thyroid has shut down, she’ll take thyroid hormone supplements to provide the stuff that she no longer produces (or in her present condition, over-produces) on her own.

It’s not a huge medical endeavor, but it’s more dramatic and significant than taking a couple of aspirin. She’s not supposed to spend too much time in close proximity to anyone, not even her spouse. For the next three days, we’re instructed not to hug, sit close, sleep in the same bed, or kiss. Just when we’re reunited at the end of the semester!

It’s all for the good in the long run, but if you have prayers or candles or whatever left over after remembering Joey’s dad, please bear Margaret in mind. I’d take a picture of her, but I’m afraid that the radiation would corrode the sensor in my digital camera, and all the film in the house seems to be fogged. . . . .

It’s A Start

As I play with the words of the readings, I’m inclined to preach on the verse from Psalm 43 that reads, “Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. . . .”

Now, the figure of God’s light leading one to the Temple is clear enough; but what does it mean that God should send out the truth to guide us? The Psalmist seems to envision Truth as a sort of homing signal; but whereas most of us are equipped with eyes that function well as light detectors, experience suggests that fewer of us (and who knows just who they are?) have the use of reliable truth detectors. What good does it do us to ask God to send out Truth to guide us homeward, if we can’t know just when we’ve encountered that beacon?

I’ll have to wait and see how, or even whether, this connects to the occasion of Todd’s ordination (It wouldn’t be the first time that I prepared a full sermon, only to decide that it wasn’t just right for preaching that day — I think the sermon I finally preached at Leigh Waggoner’s ordination was the third one I prepared for that service). But that plea for an invisible, elusive signal piques my homiletical interest.

Sox and Mets

I think that in relatively short order — when Pedro is on the disabled list, while shrewd Theo Epstein has more than $30 million to spend on other players — Red Sox fans will see the Mets’ signing Pedro Martinez as a great deal for the Sox. I hate to see him go, even though the Red Sox are a rival of my own favorite Orioles, but I doubt that any team should be offering Martinez a guaranteed four-year contract at a time when both his quality statistics and his durability have been steadily declining. It’s hard to say good-bye, but the Sox get the better of this transaction.

After Courses

You might think that just because classes ended last Friday, I have my feet up in my Barcalounger, and I’m puffing a cigar, thinking about all the poor working stiffs whose work doesn’t crash to a halt two weeks before Christmas. You might think so, but — even apart from my lack of a Barcalounger — you’d be wrong.

I spent the morning talking with Kyle about his long-distance directed readings course on emergent/emerging church polity. Kyle’s put a lot of time and effort into connecting with me for this course, so I felt the least I could do was really monologue the living daylights out of him when he comes by to visit. He escaped with his sanity (more or less) intact after a long discussion of his studies, his visit to Geoff’s place Sunday morning, his visit to Willow Creek in the afternoon, and the conclusions he’s reaching on the basis of it all. It’s been a pleasure to talk through his explorations with him.

Among our topics this morning was a metaphor I threw out, that Kyle suggested I use before he stole it — so in deference to his wishes, I’m blogging it tonight. We were discussing the impetus (impetuses? impeti? impetuousities?) for emergent churches, and I compared the situation to the gradual congestion, silting up and log-jamming, of clear waterways. The water that would ordinarily flow through the mainb channels doesn’t just magically go away; it begins showing up in unexpected places (flowing down streets, cutting new channels, flooding your basement). So, when the established churches (here using “established” not restrictedly about “granted privileged status by the state,” but broadly as “constituted as enduring corporate entities”) impede the flow of the Spirit, we should look for the Spirit to make itself known in surprising places.

We also noted that emerging/emergent churches aren’t formally distinct from various modern church-start models. To the extent that emerging/emergent congregations differentiate themselves from precedent, they do so by the way they live out a distinct self-understanding. Kyle’s using “participation” as one of the key-concepts of his account of emerging/emergent polity; I wondered whether that might conceal the extent to which established churches encourage “participation” too, in ways formally quite similar to emerging congregations. These patterns clearly differ — but they differ not at the level of bare “participation,” but at the level of what that participation means to the congregation’s identity.

When Kyle finally made his way to the door, I turned my attention back to church history papers, handled some phone calls and emails, a couple of student visits, began working on the sermon for Todd’s ordination, and tackled more grading. I have an all-day faculty meeting tomorrow, and an errand with Margaret Wednesday morning. If things break well, Margaret and I may have the evening out as a treat Wednesday night — by which time it would be great to have my papers finished and be on my way ahead to the sermon.

The readings for Saturday will be Num 11:16-17, 24-5 (omitting the baffling concluding phrase), Psalm 43, 1 Peter 5:1-4, and Matthew 9:35-38. So far I have a strong intuition of where I want the sermon to get, but no clear idea of its itinerary in getting there. I’ll keep in touch as notions develop (don’t worry Ref, I’ll dig something up).

Should Be, But Not

There’s a stack of papers at my left hand, and the house is a mess — but I’m diligently making snowflakes with the online snowflake maker that Margaret and Pippa discovered. I should be grading papers or cleaning up, but instead I’m tackling another urgent, absorbing, fascinating task.