Monday, December 13, 2010

BNC Christmas Address

The Bishop Barbie Who Saved Christmas                                               by Bishop Barbie

My Darling Elves, I have been considering greatly as to what I should present to you for the Christmas Message direct from the Brave New Church HQ.  Shall I offer you a Brave New Rendition of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas ala Glee?  Or should I harken back to the traditions of days past with the burning of the yule log, the decorating of the Christmas tree, and kissing under the mistletoe?

Neither seems good, right, or holy.  

The Brave New Church recognizes that you and your loved ones celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways.  You may put colored or white lights under the tree.  Some may have even kept the bubble lights from the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Maybe you keep tradition from the old world alive such as Lutefisk Suppers or wooden ornaments to grace the tree and visit Santy Claus at the mall.  Our family has come into the habit of Godiva Advent calendars – a delicious traditions to indulge!  

But I fear we here at the Brave New Church have lost the true meaning of Christmas and so I commend a closer reading of Charles Dickens immortal Christmas Tale, A Christmas Carol to you that your holiday season may be revived in due season!

It is the pagans who practiced Saturnalia and the hedonistic feasting and gift-giving throughout the middle ages which was usurped by the Roman church, anxious to capitalize on such feasting by way of reinterpretation.  But under the faithful guidance of Sir Oliver Cromwell in the late 1600’s the Yuletide festivities came under Puritan scrutiny and Christ’s Mass was realized for its true farce: a pagan festival of pure greed.  

Thankfully, Charles Dickens was a true Christian High Priest and leader for the western masses in the 1800’s.  He wrote a story about the mean Uncle Scrooge and his flunky employee, Bob Cratchit, in the spirit of the Industrial Revolution.  Those who capitalized off the wealth of the age left their employees penniless and destitute.  There arose a new hardness, a new meanness and lack of compassion among this new merchant class of society during this time.  And so, against this backdrop of selfishness and greed, a young English writer emerged who would make the written page his platform for exposing societal exploitation and cruel treatment of the lower classes, and become a significant voice for change in society, exposing unto us the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

Charles Dickens gave to us the Inspired Word, A Christmas Carol in 1843 which reinvented todays holiday, emphasizing family and goodwill and compassion.  Uncle Scrooge was visited in quick order by three ghosts – Christmas past, present and future – to scare him into good deeds and cure him of miserliness.  

You see, boys and girls, the true message of Christmas has nothing to do with sin, death or the power of the devil being overcome by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The true message of Christmas is not the coming of God’s Son into the world to redeem the world from its bondage.  The true story of Christmas is a message of social justice, where you learn to care about the Bob Cratchits of the world because it is the right thing to do (with or without your exemplar, Jesus).  

We here at the Brave New Church life up A Christmas Carol because it is a story we can all agree upon.  It does not teach creed, carol, doctrine or dogma.  Jesus never enters the story because that may be offensives.  But we also recognize that Dickens’ carol remembers Jesus’ focus on the need for social justice and always choosing the right path to keep God happy.  

The Dickens Foundation and the BNC have joined arms this year because we believe together in the importance of celebrating this holiday, because the shared love and joy could help all to become our best selves now.  Cherish your family like the Cratchit’s and learn to love unexpectedly like Mr. Scrooge.  Become the lighthouse of hope the Divine always intended you to be!  Don’t let the commercial trappings spoil your holiday.  Go in Free Love and Radical Tolerance!  

Keep Christ in Christmas!  Remember Christ’s example of justice and forget his concern with sin!  Jesus is comin’ to town and he’s ONLY concerned with whether you’ve been naughty or nice!  

Christmas is the cornerstone of living your best life NOW.  Strengthen all that is good in the world – especially free Love, radical tolerance and dedicated gift-giving to everyone you care about!

Christmas Dreams and Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,
Bishop Barbie

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Colleague-in-Chief is the Bishop of the LARGEST Lutheran church in North America, just like he points out in the first line of the tape!  

We here at the Brave New Church Headquarters were thrilled to participate in this popular movement!  In fact, in light of our many churchly woes we’re evening considering a full time partnership with the movement.  Then, all of our signs would read:

Just look at this selection of the fan mail our glorious leader of Free Love received from his amorous Facebook Fans!

        Bishop Hanson, I am so close to committing idolatry! 

               (so hawt!)

-          I love my congregation and the grater Church. 
                  (May I get you some cheddar, ma’am?)
-          Bravo, Bishop Hanson. And may God bless the ELCA. 
                  (God, we invite you into our threefold mission! Join us!)
-          Thank you Bishop Hanson, my heart is so full of love for our church. 
                  (who needs Jesus when you have the church!)
-          I praise God for the ELCA! 
                  (Our hands! Our work! Wanna join us?)
-          Like I needed another reason to love Bishop Handsome. I mean Hanson. 
                  (He’s so dreamy! Wait till you see in his pink cope I designed!)
-          God does not judge. Jesus like his father in Heaven did not judge either.He did not favor one over another but expressed Love as his father expresses Love. His love is all inclusive and does not wain upon persons or circumstance.Remember he came to set the record straight. The only true parts of the old scripture are where god is shown to be unpartial in his love. This is the heart of Jesus's message.God's love is for all his creation. 
                  (Don’t worry sir, Marcion died a long time ago!)
-          Now THIS makes me grateful to be in relationship with the ELCA!!!  

Naturally I’m surprised that I didn’t receive more fan mail since I’m obviously more in touch with the needs and popular culture at the BNC and beyond.  But either way, we accomplished our goal in determining who amongst you is the biggest Super Fan of the Brave New Church!  

As for the rest of you, if you did not add Bishop Hanson to your fanpage, speak favorably of him, "like" his video, or offer sweet lauds of honor upon his holiness, you can expect to hear from our headquarters in the next 1-3 months.


Mailbag Monday!

Jeremy writes, “Wise and inclusive leader, I thought the omission of a few distasteful verses regarding rebukes a few weeks ago had signaled redactionism for the sake of radical inclusiveness, but I fear the BNC may have missed a spot. May I direct you to the first lesson this morning, Jeremiah 14: ‘Although our iniquities testify against us; act O Lord for your name's sake; our apostasies are many, and we have sinned against you.’ These verses don't seem to fit with the message of radical inclusiveness and free love of the BNC. Would you please elaborate and ease my distress?”

My Dearest Darling Jeremy!
Perhaps I may take a moment to illumine your heart and ease your mind as to the role of the BNC and its relationship to the Divine Scriptures!  Naturally there are the occasional verses which cause us discomfort and dis-ease, and so for the sake of our Brave New Leaders we omit.  The omission is for YOUR sake more than for anyone else because we wish to achieve radical trust toward our leadership!  

Truly I say unto thee, how would the masses respond if there would be such a constant barrage of judgment from the so-called “words” of the Divine?  We must redact radically!  Reduce inclusively!  Our only purpose is to ensure the name of the Divine and Divine Representatives everywhere have a chance to spread the gifts of radical tolerance, inclusivity, and free Love.  Without omitting verses here and there, how could we possibly achieve these goals?  Reverend, you must remember that 95% of our worshipping population of the BNC doesn’t even know what a Bible IS (short of a coaster or a nice family heirloom).  Why would you seek to shatter the image we have worked so long to build up around the BNC by introducing those nasty verses?  You would only be working yourself out of a job, my darling.  

As for Jeremiah 14, while it may seem the BNC committed a tragic oversight, you must recall that we have released a new “study Bible” in the recent months with all the interpretations you could possibly need to assist in preaching preparation!  You see, our released version of scripture simply does the work of ignoring these words!  We focus instead on the key word of 14:8 of “hope!”  Hope and change, my darling, hope and change!  The BNC chooses to focus away from the law and give overwhelming preferential treatment to the Gospel of Love alone.  

The words of warning, fear and sin are always so pesky and really somewhat of a downer.  How will anyone learn to live to his, her, or its highest potential if we don’t portray all of Divinity in beautiful words of divine Love?  So, if in the future, you find yourself unable to stomach the unfortunate remnants of our revised scripture, do what I always do: Look up to the pink evening sky and think of Love!  

Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,
Bishop Barbie

Jeff writes, “Dearest Bishop Barbie, I've been pondering something ever since our Society's general retreat in Mundelein this past week: Did you travel ahead of us to re-paint the chapel in hues of red, blue, and brown, prior to our arrival? If so, what a wonderful gift and talented painter you are!
My dearest Jeff.
You thrill me with your notice of my interior design skills!  
Yet, as much as I regularly schedule my acts of mercy, grace, and free Love around the myriad of needs within the BNC, I’m sorry to say but the interior at annual Retreat was outside the pale of my generosity this year.  My usual mode of liturgical and spiritual preparations for the needs of BNC congregations everywhere and often involve the colors Pink and Purple.  The moment you spouted off the red, blue, and brown interior I knew immediately this was not the work of my personal planning or that of my staff!  
You see, my darling Jeff, you must remember that liturgical colors and settings inspire certain spiritual feelings and desires in the hearts of those present for worship!  Reds and blues are divisive and upsetting to the spiritual palette, as they remind of how so many are divided on lines of male and female gender types.  How silly and intolerant!  Browns only remind us of the earth and earthy – like the Birkenstock-wearing divas out west.  Why would we seek the earthy when the spiritual is more of our taste?  
This is why Pink and Purple is our cry and our theme!  They remind us of our royal call to radical tolerance, inclusiveness, and free Love!  Pink is now for boys and girls and others and Advent and cancer research!  Purple is the color of royalty and anti-bullying campaigns and eggplant (which is very healthy for you)*!   
So, despite my penchant for taking credit for most things, I must say that I was not part of this color palette atrocity.  Perhaps you will consider a place such as this for your next General Retreat instead:

Butterfly Kisses from Heaven,
Bishop Barbie

*Just to be clear, Bishop Barbie recognizes the “Purple Church” is also a name for the “Satanic Church.”  Bishop Barbie has no intentions of making comparisons, promoting, or encouraging the Satanic community.  Although the BNC and fellow church bodies have disputes, we would do well not to compare one another to Satan or his minions.  Instead we are called to preach our brothers and sisters back to true faith and the fold.    


Cathi writes, “Someone asked earlier ... was Her Pinkness at Mundelein for the STS General Retreat?If there was an answer, I missed it. Please re-post. (During said retreat, much speculation was going on as to HP, BB's identity and wherebouts. One of the STS brethren thought BB and I are one in the same, but I assured him that I am not Her Pinkness. The STS sistren know better! LOL)”

Oh my Darling Braaschenputtel,

I was with you at the Little Mouth in spirit and Brave New Churchiness – but not in body.  My schedule has been so crammed with speaking opportunities, receptions, and rites that I can barely find time to retreat a moment with Ken, darling!   

My goodness, such questions you ask of my Pinkness!  Of course my identity is much sought-after and considered because of my natural blond hair, beauty and saintliness!  The BNC finally hired some personal attendants to ensure I am not personally accosted by those who desire personal interviews, autographs, and the like.  It is such tough work being a BNC celebritaire’, you wouldn’t even understand.  I would much rather enjoy a quiet celebrity life in the ski chalets of Aspen than at a retreat of such assorted characters.  In fact, I shall immediately place Ken in charge of a winter getaway!  
If anyone is interested in my identity and more, here is my drivers’ license:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Divine Spearhead Installation

Service of Installation for the Spearhead of Social Services, 
Reverend Daniel Ostercamp

You are invited to come forward to the candle table before the service begins in honor of Bishop Barbie, the Brave New Church, and all who will soon be our Friends.

CALL TO WORSHIP:        A Call to Silence in honor of our Brave New Leaders


Free Love is the doctrine of this Church
The Quest for truth is its Sacrament
and Service is its Prayer.
To dwell together in Peace,
to seek knowledge in Freedom,
to serve humanity in Fellowship,
thus do we covenant Together.
We respect ALL* bound consciences

Come Join the Dance of Divinity             
ELW 412


The Adventures of Little Red Riding Hood and the Divine Scripture

AFFIRMATION – Led by our Brave New Youth

We are the Brave New Church:
A people of open minds,
and committed to radical tolerance,
boundless unity,
and free Love for all.

(young people may now go to prepare food, drinks, and service for our reception)

OFFERTORY (include your tax return in the envelope)

This is a time of sharing.
Tell us all of things that make you
happy and sad as we seek to
hear the divine within you.


From you I receive, to you I give,
Together we share, and from this we live.

RESPONSIVE READING                        (the congregation reads the bold parts)
I am a woman -
        I have no voice.
                The male-dominated world I live in has left me powerless.
                        You are a male in this culture.
                                  Will you speak up for me?

I am a child –
        I have no voice.
                The business-oriented world I live in has left me powerless.
                        You are an entrepreneur in this culture.
                                Will you speak up for me?

I am a person of color –
        I have no voice.
                The white–dominated world I live in has left me powerless.
                        You are a white person in this culture.
                                Will you speak up for me?

I am a person with physical limitations –
        I have no voice.
                The mobility-oriented world I live in has left me powerless.
                        You are a mobile person in this culture.
                                Will you speak up for me?

I am “one of the least of these.”
        I have no voice.
                The success-oriented world I live in has left me powerless.
                        You are able walk the ways of this culture.
                                Will you speak up for me?

I am all of these people.
        You have a voice.
                The Divine has called you to speak up for me -
                        The BNC has called you to walk with me.
                                Will you live into this calling for my sake?


What if God was One us Us?      
By Joan Osborne  
By Her Holy Pinkness Bishop Barbie

STATEMENT OF FAITH (we read together)
We who profess the beliefs of the Brave New Church:

We declare that there are many interpretation and sources of sacred scripture and but one source from which our religious convictions are reflected and that Jesus of Nazareth is our spiritual guide, leader, and head of our church as he teaches us about the Divine within and practices of free Love.

We declare that God (the Divine) is within each of us and that Jesus the Christ is God's anointed and best Child.

We declare that Divine revelations to humanity are revealed in a holy myriad of ways; therefore, we should search for Divine truth, wisdom, and Love within the pages of our holy books, the world's many sacred scriptures, and our everyday spiritual and scientific explorations to know and commune with the Divine and one Another.

We declare that apart from our rituals and rites, our brothers and sisters of the Divine are free to interpret their Divine notions according to their own personal conscience, understanding, and religious schools of thought in which they belong,

Do you, Name of Spearhead, take this job, to love honor and cherish the Brave New Church now and forevermore?  To bring all peoples to the BNC that they might come to see true Divinity within and without?

I will, with the help of Bishop Barbie
I, Name of Spearhead  take you, the BNC, to be my Spirit Friends.  To have and to hold from this day forward, for demographic fortitude and rainbow ribbons, in health and prosperity, and to seek one nation, in free Love, under Divine watchfulness, indivisible, with unity and tolerance for all.


A special stole is brought forward
 Bishop Barbie places the stole upon the Holy Reverend Spearhead

BB: As a token of mutual fidelity, radical tolerance, unity and free Love, receive this token as an outward sign that the BNC owns you, your talents and abilities.”


Please receive the Holy Spearhead with tithes and applause

CLOSING HYMN           
Stairway to Heaven                       
By Led Zeppelin


O dear God, thank you.  You are such a good God to us, a kind and gentle and accommodating God and we thank You, O sweet, sweet Lord of hosts for the smorgasbord you have so aptly lain at our table this day and each day by day.

Day by day by day.

O dear Lord, three things we pray: To love Thee more dearly, to see 
Thee more clearly, to follow Thee more nearly… day by day... by day.

Amen. Amen.

SOCIAL HOUR on the upper patio; all* are welcome.