Monday, September 13, 2010

Mailbag Monday!

Elizabeth of Hungary writes, “As a seminarian who looks to my leaders for examples of a godly life, I was very dismayed to find you blogging on Labor Day.  I have been taught in seminary that Jesus loves the poor and oppressed, and in America, these are obviously the blue-collar union workers, whose sacrifices Labor Day commemorates.  I had my hopes set high that the ELCA would take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers and religiously observe Labor Day.  I know that Matthew 12 teaches that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, but I have a hard time believing that he would support us failing to stand with the marginalized in this country - nay, the world - by working on Labor Day.  Are you aware of the impact you are having on impressionable seminarians who now feel free to blog on federal holidays?
My dearest Ms. Hungary,
In celebration of the theme of your letter, I postponed writing to you until after I had taken adequate rest!  During the days following your utterly delightful tome, Ken whisked me away to an all-expense vacation to the Dominican Republic!  Naturally we had the opportunity for a few photo opportunities in neighboring Haiti, but how difficult is it really to pose for a snapshot?  Our days were filled with sun-kissed swimming and our evenings with all-you-can eat buffets and dancing!  Thankfully, we staffed the home office with adequate Desk Facilitator Specialists to manage the phone and News Release desks.
During my holiday jaunt in your honor, I had time to consider your central message – such a bold preacher of justice at such a tender age!  You shall serve our Brave New Church with finesse, my lovely! 
Now for matters of Holy Rest and Justice:
Our Lord gives us words of Law and Gospel in Divine Scripture and it is up to us to decide which words we serve us best at any given time!  As your Brave New Bishop I must tell you that your time of rest is rather at the behest of your superiors – those of us with special dispensation by virtue of our ordination. 
I urge you to continue working tirelessly for the Brave New Church for from you labor shall flow boundless unity, radical tolerance, and free Love!  The Wellness Wheel promoted by our offices offer wonderful ideas for Healthy Leaders, but really the central message is holy sacrifice for the sake of Unity and Love.
The central work of the Brave New Church is to work tirelessly for victims of injustice.  Our Fair Trade workers, unionistas (like fashionista’s, only filled with Unity!), federal czars, and countless others must work even through federal holidays because without their daily work, could they possibly find a sense of fulfillment and joy?  Furthermore, their labors bring in fair wages and they would not want to lose their jobs, would they? 
This is indeed the reason why many at our churchly publishing house to continue to toil daily and nightly without any hope for pension: it is a holy work!  You see, Elizabeth, when it comes to matters of Justice and free Love, all work is necessary and holy – no Labor Day, no pension, no rest required!
I hope that by virtue of my blog on Labor Day you might realize the power of your position to work for unity, justice, and Love for all – especially on your day off.  After all, Jesus didn’t come to give you a day off, did Jesus? 
Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,
Bishop Barbie

Don writes, “Bishop Barbie; 2 questions: What kinds of insightful suggestions to you have for bringing young adults into the ELCA and do you have any plans to meet with Lady Ga Ga anytime soon”

My Dearest Darling Mr. Wright!

What an insightful question for such a Brave New problem so many church bodies face in these dangerous times!

I have long prayed over and considered your question and would like to offer a brief answer (really, a complete answer would include full on ministry application

First, young adults today crave modern language and they will not be attracted to our events and lifestyle choices unless we sound like them! 

For example, an OLD PASTOR (read: unenlightened and past expiration date) would say:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…”

A welcoming and attractive NEW PASTOR would say:

You are welcomed by this community and by the Divine, who embraces you not because of the longings of your heart or because you box yourself into some articulation of faith, but because the Divine Loves you and we Love you and accept you as you are! Welcome, because this is a faith that believes in you!”

Notice the difference, Mr. Wright?  To be part of the Brave New Church is to always to be in relation to others and not set apart from others.  The greatest sin both in scripture and in modern society is to be different.  You must be unique, just like everyone else!  The key to attracting people of all ages is BELONGING – nothing more, nothing less.

Second, programs are the way to bring in the young people of today. 

Invitations to worship is boring.  Sunday school?  Get a life!  What you need is something revamped, renewed, and re-levant.  Ditch all the God-talk and embrace community!  It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, so long as you’re together! 

The resolution to this is: programs, programs, and more programs!

Start with a modern young person who can lead with charism and individuality!  Your leader must show that the Divine welcomes all people regardless of appearance, identity, life decisions, moral dis/interest, and personal choices.  Recently I ran across a fantastic new program produced by a branch of our Brave New Church.  I deeply believe this will satisfy the deep spiritual longings of our people! 
This new educational resource is perfect for young adults of all ages and experiences and will address the fine art of living as people of Justice, Light, and Free Love.  Section 1 covers: 
·         Feelings
·         Self-Concept and Self-Esteem
·         Friendship
·         Team Building
·         Problem-Solving
·         Healthy and Loving Choices
·         Speaking up for Justice
Again, in an effort toward relevance, the weekly group activity will put the spotlight on:
·         Focus and Empowerment
·         Organization and Study Tips
·         Positive Attitude
·         Community Involvement
·         Serving the Divine within and in the community
For those who seem advanced in their spirituality and learning, you may want to create small groups!  One idea tossed around by my specialty team is to create a Round Table, with the Leader as King Arthur!
·         The group will join in at the Round Table with King Arthur and his knights as they learn about chivalry, bravery, and courage.
·         They will pow-wow with Native Americans while creating a 6-foot-high group totem pole that showcases that animal nature of each member.
·         Group members will turn into fantastical superheroes who work together to save the day.
·         Learn alongside Samurai masters as they learn the art of peace.
·         They will "journey" to England to study the Magician's Code that binds the Brother and Sisterhood of Magicians.

OLD PASTORS and the OLD CHURCH would invite people to church services or maybe a youth choir. 

NEW CHURCH LEADERS and the BRAVE NEW CHURCH coordinate missional efforts toward involvement in practices of inclusivity alongside rich tapestries of Justice and Love!

Our Brave New Church is working tirelessly to adapt the Boy/Girl Scout model to our needs.  Structured leadership, belief in values that best fit the general movements of the culture, and freedom to expand the walls of Justice and free Love will bring the masses to our door!  We are also considering merit badges for exceptional character traits.   

We must lead our youth toward recognizing communal wholeness!  This is the deepest longing of their hearts and our Brave New Church is working around the clock to provide you with all the materials to make that possible!

It’s like God-Caffeine for your tired old religion!



Eileen writes, "Bishop Barbie - I am preparing the 2011 budget for worship supplies.   Is the new logo a download for bulletins and all other supplies or is it purchased.  I couldn't find anything with the logo on the A-F site.  Thank you!"

Dearest Eileen,

What a treasure you are!  I am so thankful for team players such as yourself who are also willing to provide tithes and offerings for the sake of our Brave New Church! 

The new logo is not yet available for purchase because of public concern that it may reflect other popular commercial logos.  Instead we are nearly ready to post a Logo Contest for our Brave New Church!  Surely many minds are better than one – and short of the College of Bishops, there is certainly no ‘I’ in “Team!”

Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,

Bishop Barbie



Lisa writes, “Does the BNC have a social statement on the use of hallucinogen drugs? I must confess that I have difficulty with openly and freely loving all sheep in my local fold equally. Seems like illicit drug use helped the "Make Love - Not War" movement of the 60's. Maybe during the "Healing Service" a passing of the pipe could be added.”



My Darling Lisa,


I regret to say we do not yet have a Social Statement regarding the use of hallucinogenic drugs!  However, I believe it is better to refer to this as a “Hallucinogenic Opportunity.”


We here at the BNC HQ are aware the this is a serious issue of justice.  For example, you can read about how Spiritual Leaders recognize the important cash cow families require, hence we are required to support smokable ganja. 


Hallucinogenic properties and other opportunities promote spirituality, my dear Lisa!  For instance, I have a family member who sought clarity on personal matters and enjoyed a weeklong Native America Vision Quest in the American deserts!  While traversing the desert, this family member brought neither food nor water, but instead lived off of spiritual desire.  To quell the perturbance of physical nutrition pangs, peyote and other herbs were consumed and smoked as fire was available.  Once this period of quest and spiritual journey came to completion, a long term committed relationship and child was produced! 


It is a Justice and Spiritual concern you address, really.  Our committees are well paid and working around the clock to consider Hallucinogenic Opportunities as both sacrament and healing. 


We here at the Brave New Church notice there are many cultures throughout all of history using the wonders of hallucinogenic and other opportunities aides.  We support this in order to enjoy the creation of the Divine and to learn all the Divine would have us realize!


Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,

Bishop Barbie




Tom writes, "Dear Bishop!  Greetings in the Name of Free Love!  Question:  There's a UCC pastor in our area who wants us all to get together to discuss our "Christologies."  How can this event best free people from fear and let them know that their Jesus is just as good as anyone else's Jesus, because, you know, the One Jesus and His/Her/Its love is so many different things to so many different people."


Dearest Tom,


What a fascinating topic for discussion! 

The joy of this topic is located precisely in the term “Christology.”  That is, “Christ” comes from the Greek, Χριστός (Khristós) (which is co-opted from the Hebrew, מָשִׁיחַ) meaning only “anointed one.”  Where I believe you are becoming terribly confused and befuddled is to think Jesus is the only Christ!  I am so pleased this pastor from the United Church of Christ is gathering so many representative of denominations and faith communities to share their individual understandings of “Christ!”
Remember, the Bible says somewhere about becoming “little Christ’s,” and it sounds to me like you are about to be presented with so many wonderful options about what that means!  Jesus was a wonderful example of what it means to be a “Christ,” because Jesus was so full of Love and Justice at every turn.  But chances are, Jesus may not be the only one able to show you the Way!  Listen carefully to the moderators and suggestions offered during this discussion.  Please share your findings!  The love of the Divine is indeed one of the Anointing – a practice which we can enjoy in oil anointing, remembrance of baptism, and other liturgical gymnastics.  

In an unprecedented effort at supporting you, your Brave New Church chooses to stick with broad terms and focus our efforts entirely upon adjectives! 

For example: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.


By referring to the Divine using only adjective we make space for all people’s conceptions of the Divine!  We do not wish for any of our church members to be held back by notions of gender exclusivity or the bonds of race, creed, ethnicity, or religion!  After all, the BNC’s primary mission and ministry is one of inclusivity!    


We recognize language such as: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is offensive to many and places the Divine in a box.  The Divine is so much larger than gender, history, and specificity!  I urge you to avoid such language, especially in the context of this UCC hosted discussion.  Naturally, offering gender and specific terminology when discussion anointing and other benefits of religion will grow our BNC – and rating are everything, my Love!   


My concern is over matters no different than the term, “Allah!”  In this delightfully multicultural word, we find the ability to overlay any understanding of the Divine we choose!  We Christians are no different than Muslims, let alone Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons or even Agnostics!  We are all on the journey of searching for the Divine within and without! 


Join us in our Brave New Church on the Brave New Search for Divinity!  I, for my part, cannot wait until we hear more from you about your delightful and illuminating conversation with our UCC brothers and sisters in Christ!


Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,

Bishop Barbie

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