Category Archives: Administrative

Resurrecting the Blog

Easter-tide is perfect for resurrections…

It’s been a really rough year for me personally and for the blog and my writing as well. I had a job loss, some floundering, then a new job, and a new medical diagnosis lurking behind it all.

For almost the past decade, I worked in the IT department of a financial-sector Fortune 50 company. It had its pros and cons,  the biggest pros being my immediate supervisors who  were (and are) terrific people. The cons were the constant layoffs and downsizings, and eventually they got to my name on the list…

When I was told that was ending, I thought about what to do next. I had a vision of writing and programming full-time: really taking the blog and the breviary to the next level and incorporating some additional projects to make this all work. I gave that a shot. That’s when I put up the Patreon page, and tried to make a go of it. I quickly realized that—at least at this point in my life—that wasn’t going to fly.

A new attractive job opportunity opened up—teaching Computer Science (and math) at an inner-city Catholic girls school here in Baltimore. So I made the switch. And while I love it, and it’s great fun, learning the ropes of a new job, teaching a full load of classes none of which I’ve ever taught before, and trying to stay on top of all of the grading has all but torpedoed any hopes I had of maintaining all of the other side projects.

Especially the blog…

In and through all of this, I’ve been grappling with a new reality about my life. Around the same time that I was laid-off, I was diagnosed with adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). I had never thought of myself in that way before, but after the diagnosis, looking through the literature, watching videos like this one and this one and many more, and generally educating myself about the condition—so many things about my life made so much more sense!!

Now I know that typically in our culture we hide neurodiversity/mental illness. Sorry—I have no interest in doing that. It’s part of who I am. It’s not something I’m ashamed of (or proud of); it’s just me.

Please notice I used two terms in the previous paragraph: “neurodiversity” and “mental illness.” I did that for a reason. As I see it, neurodiversity recognizes a biochemical fact—my brain isn’t wired like other peoples’ brains. I lack (or have diminished capabilities in) certain executive functioning pathways and other links that occur in the majority of adult human brains. Mental illness is when my different functioning becomes pathological, and disrupts normal relationships and prevents me from working or living well with my neurotypical family, friends, and colleagues.

I’m on medication and working with strategies to manage my condition, to keep it non-pathological. (And I’m recognizing strategies and coping mechanisms I’ve always used and never realized before!) However, it’s still a challenge, especially with all of the other life changes I am wrestling with right now.

To bring this back to the blog and the church stuff, my ADHD is one of the reasons why I have so many side-projects going on—and why I have such difficulty finishing the ones I start! Part of my sanity process going forward will be to rein these in and to actually finish all of the various and sundry projects that I have started—before I start any new ones!

I have used this blog in the past as, essentially, an accountability strategy. That is, I’ve posted things here in order to keep my forward progress going forward. It doesn’t always work—but it can and has with several projects in the past. So, as one of my strategies towards sanity, I’m going to get back to the blogging, to keep you up to date on things and, hopefully, to keep moving forward with the things I need to do.

What’s prompted this now, at this particular time, is one of the many side-projects that isn’t purely self-directed. When I commit to doing projects with and for other people—people with budgets and timelines—there are consequences for falling through, like important projects I believe in and care about getting cancelled. So. In my next post, I’ll formally announce this project and work towards finishing it, and then tackle the other projects that I (and maybe you) care about too so that we can get these finished up…

General Convention + 2 Months

Now that the program year has gotten underway, we’ve starting having adult forums again at my parish. My rector asked me to give a wrap-up of the events of General Convention. I did that this morning, and it’s got me thinking again about the major things that happened there. The way that I laid it out, there were six big things that occurred

  • Budget: We passed one. $134 million over three years. And for the three main pillars of the Jesus Movement, Evangelism got $5.2 million ($.7 million less than last time), Racial Reconciliation and Justice got $10.4 million (up from $9.5 million), and Creation Care got an even $1 million (up from $650K). At such a time as this, I remain confused/surprised/bewildered that Evangelism receives so little. Sure—there is work going on at the diocesan level as well, but we need a major shot in the arm to wake the Episcopal Church up to help us talk about our faith in meaningful and important ways,and to share best practices for doing so.
  • The Return of Cuba: Cuba is back as a diocese of the Episcopal Church. This is a good thing. In making this move we have rolled back a unilateral move by the House of Bishops that, while understandable perhaps at the time, was a clear violation of our polity.
  • The intersection of General Convention and the #MeToo Movement: We finally began to make some steps to address some of the glaring gender problems in our church. But we have to make sure they keep going. This is a very personal issue for me. I have seen the ways that my wife has been treated by the church. Far too many times I’ve had to say, “That would never happen if you were a guy.” In terms of clergy, women assistants/associates are at a major power disadvantage with regard to both their rectors and their congregations which increased the potential and possibility for bad things to happen from either side. In terms of laity, because of the greater number of women lay workers than men the inequities around clergy/lay compensation and benefits disproportionately impact women. We really can’t attempt to speak a prophetic word about economic justice to others if we can’t get our own house in order. Resolutions and covenants and task-forces are a start, but are only a start unless they keep going forward.
  • Compensation for the President of the House of Deputies: This is one of the tricky technical issues that, while important, is difficult to easily convey to people in the pews. This fight is about the nature of the relationship between the House of Deputies and Bishops and the structures of authority that we have. How can we be both democratic and episcopal? What does authority at the top of our church actually look like? Convention gave a relatively nuanced answer by funding the position but not granting it salary or benefits.  I think this is a good move because it emphasizes that we are episcopal in governance yet we still recognize that our non-episcopal leaders have more than just a volunteer role and deserve to be compensated for their effort and  labor.
  • Marriage Equality: The original resolution that added the same-sex blessing materials into the prayer book and removed the need for the bishop’s permission was a hand grenade. I personally want to see these materials widely available but I also want to keep parishes and dioceses within the church that struggle with the issue. The negotiated settlement of B012 is not perfect, but at least—so far—has been able to accomplish these two aims in a way that the original resolution could not have done. I’m not even going to try to crystal-ball this one and predict how this decision will shake out through the rest of this triennium…
  • Liturgical Stuff: In my presentation, I deliberately put the liturgical stuff last because I knew that if I led with it, I’d never get to any other to other stuff, my own interests and proclivities being what they are… I called out three major things here: 1) the trial use inclusive language editions of Rite II Prayers A, B, and D, 2) the shift to TFLPBR for prayer book innovation, and 3) the sanctoral calendar.

The net effect of pulling this presentation together was to make me mad all over again about what was done to the sanctoral calendar.

The final action in the House of Bishops made a thorough and complete hash of the issue. The state of the calendar  is truly a mess, so much so that I can’t keep writing about it here—it requires its own separate post.

Ember Monday

It’s totally not a thing…

Despite what the St. Bede’s Breviary tried to tell you this morning and/or this evening depending on your time zone and when you pray the Office.

It was an algorithm error. And, since I had an action-packed weekend—complete with Back-to-School Sunday yesterday—I slept in until 6 and didn’t get to Morning Prayer, I didn’t learn about it until many friends on Facebook started wondering if Ember Monday might be a thing.

Other than a glitch—no!


The new job is great fun and very rewarding. I’m not getting a lot of writing done at the moment, although I must begin producing more and soon. Now that I’m getting in the swing of the school year, you’ll see more substantive posts arriving shortly. And, for those of you who support me on Patreon, let me know what kinds of posts you’d like to see!

Thoughts on the YouTube Experiment

Initial thoughts on three weeks of the YouTube experiment…

1. Creating graphics, writing, shooting, and editing takes more time than I expected. That’s ok when it’s a regular week. Last week wasn’t regular, though. I was on the road doing the clergy conference for the Diocese of Long Island, then doing an Inwardly Digest weekend at two parishes up there. That really threw off my timing resulting in a very late upload.

2. I’m still in the editing learning curve. There are several new things that I want to try to make the video quality better (better transitions, add music, add end cards, etc.) but with the time crunch on the previous video couldn’t spend the time to head down those rabbit holes.

3. I notice that—I’m way more fun live than recorded… I observed that during my Long Island trip. I think I’m better and more engaging when I’m interacting with a live audience than talking to the camera. Maybe it’s the narrow focus of the videos but I’m not sure.

4. My Digital Strategist believes that the videos are too long. She’s recommending a short version and then maybe an expanded cut for those people who care to hear more.

5. I’m still wondering what my best media options are between blogging, podcasting, and the videos.

I don’t know—what are your thoughts?

Home Again

I’m home again from a delightful weekend in Florence, South Carolina; The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina had me down for a one-day retreat on prayer book spirituality. I presented material from Inwardly Digest, signed a lot of books, met a lot of people, and enjoyed the hospitality there.

The next event on the books is another weekend of prayer book spirituality, this one at the Church of the Atonement in Chicago on March 3-4! So—folks in Chicago area and nearby regions, save the date and stay tuned for more information on that coming soon.

Come See Me in SC!

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina has invited me down for a one-day conference entitled “The Book of Common Prayer: A Pathway to Spirituality” in Florence, South Carolina at St. Luke Lutheran Church on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018. The cost is a very reasonable $35 that includes lunch. My portion runs from 9AM until 1 PM; after lunch will be an instructed Eucharist and we’ll wrap up by 3:30.

The presentation will be based on Inwardly Digest, but tilted with an eye towards evangelism.

Y’all come!

Episcopalians: Please comment on the Budget!

I’m head down in book writing and class prep for the upcoming semester and can’t draft a suitable post at the moment, so I’ll give you two links and a plea…

Two of my very knowledgeable friends, Scott Gunn and Nurya Love Parish, have written great posts on the problem with the budget that has currently been proposed for review at General Convention this summer.

If you want the long versions, read Scott’s post here to see what someone who has been involved in church politics for a long time thinks about this. Nurya has a different perspective since she is in the midst of trying to plant (in two different ways…) a ministry right now.

tl;dr:  The budget proposed for the next triennium reduces Evangelism spending from 4% to 2%. This is ridiculous!! We say evangelism is important and we lay down numbers like this? Really?We have until Wednesday, January 10th to go to the survey and leave comments about this. I’ve already done so—I hope you will too.

 

Happy Advent!

I’m trying to get back to the blog more, and the change of seasons serves as a good excuse to do it. I’m going to try to post at least twice a week. We’ll see how well that goes!

In any case, there are a lot of things happening here and elsewhere that need talking about. Too, the run up to General Convention always sparks some interesting discussions in the church. I don’t lack for topics—only time!

So—substantive posts to follow shortly…

Sub-Surface Churn Update

I realized this morning that I haven’t posted anything here for over a month. That’s certainly not because nothing is happening… Rather, I’m in full-on Duck Mode. All may look calm on the surface, but underneath the little feet are paddling away like crazy. Here’s a short list of stuff:

  • Just completed a Saturday all day (9 AM to 3:30 PM) Retreat on Inwardly Digest at St. Michael & All Angels in Tucson, AZ, and a Sunday Adult Forum on the same plus preaching at St Philip’s Tuscon at the gracious invitation of my friends Fr. David Hedges and Fr. Robert Hendrickson.
  • I continue to teach my class on Early & Medieval Church at the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary. We’re in the 4th century at the moment. I’m having a blast, and it seems like the students are too. At the least, most of them keep coming back to class…
  • This upcoming Sunday I’ll be teaching an Adult Forum at St. Bartholomew’s West Baltimore on Communion Before Baptism. That’s prompting me to think about some of my earlier writings on the topic and to wonder about the utility of collecting these together somehow. I realize that over the years I’ve spent writing and teaching on this stuff, my position has not changed, but the way that I think and teach about it has.
  • On October 15th, I’ll be leading an Adult Forum at St. David’s Roland Park on Inwardly Digest
  • Honey of Souls is in the final stages of typesetting and is collecting endorsements.
  • Some of you may have noticed the appearance of a page on this blog entitled “breviary test 2;” it’s currently inaccessible because it’s still under construction, but it’s almost ready to be seen. That’s part of a project I’m cooking up with Forward Movement.
  • There continues to be progress on other fronts as well including the Anglican Breviary and another Forward Movement collaboration still waiting in the wings…

 

Writing Things Elsewhere

I came to the odd conclusion that my workout schedule has been messing with with my writing… I’ve been doing more weight-training before we head into the racing season, and have not been out on the road much. I realized the other day that my lack of writing seems to be related to a lack of running outside.  So—hopefully as I start doing more outside running that’ll translate to more writing and posting here!

However, I have been doing some writing that’s appearing in other places. I have a piece in the latest issue of The Living Church; I was invited to write a piece on prayer book revision: that can be found here.

I’ve also gotten some writing done on the next volume of the Cassiodorus project. Since the subtitle of that work is “Praying the Psalms with Cassiodorus and the Church Fathers,” I begin with a discussion of what prayer is and then move into how modern people and the Church Fathers understood prayer and the overlaps and differences between the two. The first part of that has appeared over at Grow Christians and indicates the direction I’m going in: that can be found here.