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A minor


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Orleans
I'm writing from New Orleans. We're staying at the hotel where my training/meeting is today, which is nice and convenient. The hotel is great - everything I look for, except when it comes to parking. The hotel's only parking is contracted valet (for over $20/day plus tax and tip) and the garage is 6 blocks away. Since all of the $20 overnight parking lots reset at 7am, I decided to risk it last night and park on the street at a meter. They don't check the meters between 6pm and 7am, but the signs are all over the place, and you never really know if you're legally parked or not. Thankfully I emerged unscathed this morning and promptly moved to the lot by the hotel. I don't want to press my luck risking another night on the street. (I got a parking ticket nearby when we were here a couple months ago.)

We need to come up with something to do once I'm out this afternoon; I'm sure the room will be getting smaller and smaller by that time. I reserved a suite - but like the genius I am, I reserved it for next week, so Hollie now gets to spend the day cooped up in a regular room with the boys. Hopefully the aquarium tomorrow will make it all worth it. At least we just had a couple days sans kids; we celebrated our sixth anniversary this weekend, and Hollie's parents kept the boys for us. We went to Bossier City on Saturday, shopped, ate, took it easy, stayed the night, went to the cathedral, shopped some more, came home, saw a movie Sunday night, and hung out with Annie & Jonathan, who incidentally was activated today to help patrol New Orleans following this weekend's killings, rising gang activity (e.g. MS-13), etc.

Update: I talked to Jonathan after he was briefed tonight. He said we shouldn't notice anything different where we're staying on Magazine Street, or anywhere around Magazine, which runs 6 miles/80 blocks from the French Quarter to the zoo with a range of shops (from high-end boutiques, interior design and antiques to vintage clothing and tattoo parlors), restaurants, bars, galleries, studios, etc; see magazinestreet.com. After my meeting, we drove down Magazine and ate at The Original Italian Pie, drove back and walked from the hotel to the Riverwalk, rode the free ferry across the Mississippi to Algiers and back before sunset, walked back to the hotel and took the boys swimming before bed. We did each of these things on a lark - we'd stumbled across the Italian Pie in Metairie last time and just heard about the one on Magazine this weekend, and we likewise stumbled across the free ferry ride today - but we couldn't have had a better afternoon/evening if we'd planned it. I'm sure Hollie will be posting pictures soon on the boys' blog.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, June 9, 2006

Parish Questions
I really enjoyed Anthony Bradley's article linked below. I'm a big believer in the church's geographical, community-oriented mission, having grown up in a genuine community church - where at one time nearly twenty member families lived in the neighborhood around the church, all within walking distance - and having been taught to appreciate the parish model by George Grant (see his lectures on Chalmers), Douglas Wilson (see Mother Kirk, pp 222-227), and James B. Jordan, among others. I recently linked our church newsletter from last month, in which Pastor Steve Wilkins wrote an article on the parish model, beginning: "The Session has determined to divide our congregation into 'parishes' for the sake of promoting community, fellowship, and service to our respective neighborhoods and communities."

Having said all of this, the parish model still raises as many questions as it answers for me. Grant, Wilson, Jordan, Wilkins, et al, suggest that congregations create sub-parishes in order to own and minister to their communities, but what if a bunch of churches in town all started doing this independent of one another? Would we really be owning and ministering to our communities through such a cacophony of parishes? (Or could the overlapping and interweaving of parishes be more like a symphony - complex but coherent?)

Bradley suggests that we adopt his stance: "As a rule, I generally attend the church in my denomination that's closest to my house NO MATTER WHAT." But what if we live in a place where there's no church in our denomination, or where there's only one and it's not in our neighborhood? Should we simply move, abandoning our neighborhood community for the one by our church? Should we help plant a(nother) church in our neighborhood? In the comments to Anthony Bradley's post, someone named Paul Stadig asked a rhetorical question that I wanted to ask in all seriousness: "Why not go to the church closest to your house regardless of denomination?"

I've come to share John Frame's distaste for denominationalism (cf. Chapter 4 of his Evangelical Reunion, "What's Really So Bad About Denominationalism?"), and I have virtually zero denominational loyalty. When I consider the geographical, community-oriented mission of the church, I sorta feel guilty about the fact that there are several churches much closer to my house than the Presbyterian (PCA) church of which I'm a member - there's a Church of Christ on the street in front of us, an Assembly of God on the street behind us, a United Methodist church and Southern Baptist church down the street a few blocks (right beside each other), a tiny little Apostolic church and an African Methodist Episcopal chapel back behind us about a mile, an Episcopal church across campus (we live by the university), and two Roman Catholic parishes within a mile or so. All of these churches are within easy walking/biking distance, but we drive 10-15 minutes to the only PCA church in town. It's the church I grew up in, and it's where my wife's family and many of our friends are - and I think it's the best place for us right now - but I still feel sorta guilty about driving past all these other churches to go to the place that's best for us.

To use Bradley's terms, why isn't going to the closest denominational church just another way of worshiping the idol of personal preference? Should I feel remorse about driving past all these other Christian churches in my neighborhood on the way to closest church in my denomination - the church that best suits my family and me? And how do we adopt a parish model that serves and anticipates a reunited citywide church (i.e. in New Testament language, "the church in Monroe")?

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Two Good Posts on Ecclesiology
These posts are different, but they're both on ecclesiology - and have long titles:

1. Joshua Gibbs, "We Are Not Actually That Controversial Or Thought Provoking But Will Probably Still Manage To Piss Off Friends On Both Sides Of The Calvin/Arminius Divide: Thoughts On Cults And Christ Church" [links: Christ Church, Pooh's Think: Cult?]

2. Anthony Bradley, "Why I Go To My Church: It's 2 Miles From My Kitchen and I Don't Worship the Idol of Personal Preferences" [links: Bradley's Covenant Seminary faculty bio, his Acton Institute staff bio; cf. Jordan and Wilkins on the parish model]

jon :: link :: comment ::

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The Ministry of Healing
In light of a post below, some have asked about the ministry of healing. I would encourage anyone interested to start by looking at this excellent introductory resource from the Society of Archbishop Justus. Also, the AMiA gives the following answer to the question, "Why do Anglican churches provide healing services?"
Anglicans hold healing services because of the many who need healing, because God heals through the laying on of hands and prayer and anointing in the name of Christ when and where He chooses, and because Christ commended the Church to do so. Healing services are not in opposition to the healing God works through the medical profession, but are complementary to it.
Theologically, the basic idea is God heals, but He normally chooses to so through human means or channels. These means/channels include traditional & natural medicine, professional & pastoral counselling, prayer, the laying on of hands, and anointing with oil, also known as unction. Of course some are more gifted/trained/called/fit as channels than others. Just as some are gifted/trained/called/fit to be medical professionals, some are gifted/trained/called/fit to be ministers of healing. In this way, both medicine and Christian healing can be seen as spiritual gifts or charismata (from the Greek for "gifts").

Practically, the ministry of healing typically includes a liturgy of prayer, the laying on of hands, and unction. It is not uncommon for Anglican churches to offer a weekday Eucharist with a liturgy for healing. The way this is done for instance here at St Thomas is that the liturgy for healing is held immediately following a regular Eucharist, although some churches observe the liturgy for healing in tandem with the eucharistic liturgy. Here at St Thomas, after communion, those who want to participate in the liturgy for healing go forward (again) and kneel or stand around the altar. The priest asks the first person how he or she needs healing of body or soul - or, if the person is seeking healing on someone else's behalf, how that person needs healing. The priest then lays his hands on the individual and prays for him or her (aloud, but in an appropriately low voice), while the people beside and behind the person also lay their hands on him or her. When the priest finishes praying, he dips his thumb in consecrated oil and anoints the person's forehead in the sign of the cross while pronouncing a benediction, and then moves to the next person. The first person joins in laying hands on the next person, and so on.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, June 5, 2006

Why Hospital Chaplaincy?
I've noted here and elsewhere my growing interest in pursuing hospital chaplaincy. I grew up around medicine, hospitals, etc. My dad is a pharmacist and sometime medical business owner who's worked in hospitals, retail, and home health. I considered a career in medicine - was a biology/pre-med major for a year or so and enjoyed my major courses but enjoyed my Latin courses more - and ultimately I couldn't escape a sense of calling to ministry. However, I don't feel called to a traditional solo pastorate, at least not anytime soon. I had hoped to become a National Guard chaplain, but military chaplaincy seems to be out for me due to the fact that I have to take daily (thyroid) meds. Still, I'm drawn to hospital chaplaincy for many of the same reasons I was drawn to military chaplaicy, and others besides.

For instance, I'm accustomed to and sympathetic toward medical and health issues. I have a natural curiosity to learn about the body, its diseases and disorders, and its regenerative abilities. Hollie, who went through college on a biology scholarship, always asks me to give diagnoses and explain treatments, medications, dosages, etc. Also, I have no fear of death, and I believe I could help comfort the dying and their loved ones. I can think of few things I'd rather do than offer support to the suffering. And, not to put too much stock in childish impressions, but every time I go to the hospital or watch House or ER, I'm struck with a sense that I ought to minister in such an environment. Slightly more objectively, I've been encouraged by more than one hospital staff physician who's said I have the right personality for chaplaincy. We'll see what happens.

jon :: link :: comment ::

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