Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mailbag, er, Wednesday

Bethany writes, “Ecumenical relationships. How are we to go about such relationships and conversations -- being proud of our shared heritage? Blending in and becoming more like our new friends to make them feel welcome in our worship?”

Dearest Bethany,

Ecumenical relationships have been terribly strained recently due to lack of unified vision and celebratory receptions held in honor of our great institutional decisions! 

You see, Bethany, I find the age-old trouble of ecumenism within the old hymn titled, “God’s Word is our Great Heritage.” It is terribly disheartening to see this hymn included even in the new Evangelical Lutheran Worship (BNC-ELW #509)!  The Divine Words are so often misinterpreted in thought, word, and deed that we must separate ourselves from such divisive nonsense!  There are so many unfortunate souls who rest on this antiquated notion we can come together on “God’s Word.”  How could we possibly find a means of ecumenism based on a book that was only ever agreed upon among dead church patriarchs like Origen and Athanasius and at committees like the 393 Synod of Hippo.  Even those committees were not carefully made up of a diversity of representatives including women, those of alternative sexualities, Hispanics, and liberals!  Completely untrustworthy! 
Their decisions have caused nothing but division and heartache for us. Therefore, in order to turn over a new leaf, we here at the BNC are dropping all hints of our former Lutheranism, so-called “Biblical” and “Confessional” commitments, etc.  With such things behind us we are on the cutting edge of “Reformed and ever Reforming!”  Semper Reformanda: A New Age!  Now we seek up those things of commonality among us all:

Liturgical Dance!
The Unity of Holy Eucharist!
Non-Gender Specific Pronouns!
Potluck Dinners and Coffee!

So now let it be said that Divine Tolerance, Unity, and free Love is our Great Heritage!  So it is now written, so it must be done.

We are a tapestry of bright colors of the rainbow – a people of no commitments and loads of spirituality!  We are a church committed to ecumenism based on those things we can agree on!  And, at the end of the day, if you won’t accept the views of the BNC, then it’s pretty clear who the divisive one is. 

Peter writes, “I know in the church we have all these festivals for long dead saints we don't really know, like St Lawrence or Santa Lucia, and we give the Reformers a Sunday in October, but even they have been dead for 500 years. Is there any way we could start celebrating on a denominational level some of the more recently dead saints whose contributions to proclaiming the Gospel we're more familiar with? People like Bonhoeffer, Elert and Forde and the others?”

Oh my Dear Peter!

What a fascinating question!  You are such an inquisitive member of our Brave New Church and I give thanks for your presence!
Now, there are two issues at stake here that I find of tremendous importance.
First, we do have a lovely slew of old Saints like St. Lawrence, St. Lucia, St. Olaf, St. Anselm, and the like.  But we must remember these saints of old are dead and gone.  The beauty of their absence is that we no longer have to listen to the things they said that we don’t like!  Death of the saints is a Holy Mute Button given to us by the Hand of the Divine so that we can focus most acutely on the sayings of these people that we desire to hear.  A saint is a dead person revised and properly edited so we have the appropriate role model!

The trouble with modern saints is that we have not yet achieved critical distance to the do the cleanup work necessary for use in our church liturgy.  There are still people living who actually knew Bonhoeffer, Elert, Forde, and others and the BNC is keeping a close watch on them.  We must be vigilant to note patterns of influence rendered by their body of work, life, and death!  For example, in the case of Gerhard Forde, he is a recently published author but also recently deceased.  Many of his students still speak out in support of his male-pronoun, non-inclusive, confessionally minded blather.  While we are aware that there are many in Missouri and Wisconsin Synod Lutheranism that find Forde far too liberal for their taste (which is at least a few point in the positive column), we are still concerned that he is idolized by such groups as the LCMC, NALC, and other breakaway rogue church bodies.  Obviously Forde among others have not achieved critical Mute Button distance.  So we wait. 
Until then, those modern day saints we choose to lift up include the following for their incisive work and quotable soundbites of great theological insight:

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

“To be conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey.” Eckhart Tolle

“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it”. Thich Nhat Hanh

“I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.” Bertrand Russell

“For nearly a hundred years, we have known that the material world is an illusion. Everything that seems solid - a rock, a tree, your body - is actually 99.999% empty space.” Deepak Chopra

“God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.” Joel Osteen

“We’re going to Australia!” Oprah Winfrey

If you can think of any way to include these modern figures into our daily liturgy or lectionary, your input is most welcomed!

Eileen writes, “Dear Bishop Barbie, I hope I'm not too late for the Monday Mailbag. The Brave New Church is exciting and I really would like to be active in this BNC.  There may be one problem (well, I hope it won't be a problem).  I've been reading your postings and know of your leadership in being completely accepting of all persons, especially, LGBTQAP3.  You also write that you are looking at ways to include the Narcissamory/Self-Love, Two-Spirit, and Objectum Sexuality. I happen to be a woman -  married for quite some time to, dare I say it, a man.  Yes, Bishop Barbie, I am involved in a heterosexual relationship .  Is there a place in that acronym for me?  

Also - do you do supply?  Keep expanding our horizons, Bishop Barbie”

My Darling Eileen!

I am so pleased to know of your commitment to full inclusion!  Naturally this means you, yourself, strive for acceptance in our Brave New Church and we seek to welcome you in many and wonderful ways.  There are a variety of ways you can serve us and you may take the time to print, check off, and mail the following to the BNC Headquarters for review and assignment.


Time and Talent BNC Pledge and Appropriations Worksheet
“Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness.” 2 Cor 3:12
Instructions: Listed on both sides of this form are a variety of opportunities to give of your spiritual gifts through the pledging of time and talent. If you have a question about any of the opportunities to serve please contact the BNC Home Office.  Please complete one Time and Talent Pledge sheet for each family member.  If you need extra sheets, they are available in the Church office or may be downloaded off our website ( Thank you in advance for the generous giving of your time and talent. Please join us in praying that we will all be strengthened to serve and give and appropriate your time, talents, and resources to their greater use in our Brave New Church.

Blood Type:
Donor (circle one):   Yes    No

Personal Hobbies:

Social Justice Organizations I am involved with:

I self identify as:

􀀀 Bisexual
􀀀 Gay
􀀀 Lesbian
􀀀 Transgendered
􀀀 Androgynous
􀀀 Genderqueer
􀀀 Transitioning
􀀀 Exploring
􀀀 Uncertain
􀀀 Pansexual
􀀀 Narcissamorous
􀀀 Objectum Sexual
􀀀 Other

I self-identify as:

􀀀 African-American
􀀀 Asian
􀀀 Native American
􀀀 Hispanic
􀀀 Alternative Non-European
􀀀 Combination of the above
􀀀 None of the Above

I self-identify in the following liquid economic bracket:

􀀀 $0- $2500
􀀀 $2501- $5000
􀀀 $5001- $10,000
􀀀 $10,001- $50,000
􀀀 $50,001- $75,000
􀀀 $75,001- $100,000
􀀀 $100,001- $250,000
􀀀 $250,001- $500,000
􀀀 $500,001- $1,000,000
􀀀 $1,000,000+

I self-identify as the following:
􀀀 Democrat
􀀀 Green
􀀀 Socialist
􀀀 Communist
􀀀 Peace and Freedom Party
􀀀 Pirate Party of the United States
􀀀 Prohibition Party
􀀀 Socialist Equality Party
􀀀 United States Marijuana Party
􀀀 Workers Party
􀀀 Independent
􀀀 Working Families Party
􀀀 Libertarian
􀀀 Republican
􀀀 Tea Party

Please answer the following questions
I struggle with:

I find the following verses or stories in Scripture to be of relative importance and/or I am currently wrestling with the following:

I feel the following when I see this photograph:

􀀀 Confident
􀀀 Amazed
􀀀 Accepting
􀀀 Great
􀀀 Overjoyed
􀀀 Thankful
􀀀 Peaceful
􀀀 Important
􀀀 Festive
􀀀 Playful
􀀀 Liberated
􀀀 Optimistic
􀀀 Full of Spirit
􀀀 Clever
􀀀 Jubilant
􀀀 Free and Easy
􀀀 Reassured
􀀀 Dynamic

􀀀 Helpless
􀀀 Incapable
􀀀 Paralyzed
􀀀 Pained
􀀀 Fatigued
􀀀 Desperate
􀀀 Vulnerable
􀀀 Hesitant
􀀀 Despair
􀀀 Frustrated
􀀀 Tragic
􀀀 Pessimistic
􀀀 Dominated
􀀀 Dismayed
􀀀 In a Stew
􀀀 Lonely
􀀀 Grieved

􀀀 Secure

􀀀 Attend BNC New Member Welcome Dinner
􀀀 Provide Food for BNC New Member Dinner
􀀀 Canvas Neighborhood for BNC Members
􀀀 Pie Ministry (Prepare and/or Deliver)

􀀀 BNC Glee Club
􀀀 Barbershop Quartet
􀀀 Proficient in modern instrument 
    (Electric Guitar, Bass, Drums, Accordion, or Saxophone)
􀀀 Cow Bell Choir

􀀀 Banner making
􀀀 Sanctuary Decorating
􀀀 Fellowship Hall Decorating
􀀀 Handicrafts

I am willing to participate in or lead the following groups:

􀀀 ELCA: Counting the Losses
􀀀 Friday Night Date Night
􀀀 Young Activists Group
􀀀 BNC Youth
􀀀 Liturgical Dance Team/Ministry of Embodiment
􀀀 BNC Workers Union
􀀀 Powerful Women of the BNC
􀀀 BNC Intelligence Agency (some field  work required)
􀀀 Coffee Hour Preparation


**At this time we are not accepting any new traditionally married heterosexual couples in significant leadership roles.  I do hope you understand that we strive to ensure equality at all levels of the BNC which means we must place you and your male counterpart on the Holy Sidelines for a few seasons.  As a consequence, we also find no reason to add ‘H’ to our acronym, as it promotes a medieval sense of oppression upon the masses who have alternative yet equally valid orientations – those who we find existing in the promised land of acceptance within our BNC acronym: LGBTQAP3

P.S. I do supply on occasion.  But I require a very specialized pulpit and liturgical accoutrement for the occasion.

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