I've done a lot of business with Shutterfly in the past, which is why I'm still on their mailing list despite all my projects having been relegated to the back burner for quite a while, due to time and priority issues. This was in an e-mail that come about a month ago.

On its face, this could be thought of as simply a considerate move on the part of the company. The fact is, however, that Father's Day is the only time for which I've seen such an offer. For Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, "Pride Month," or any other occasion about which someone might take offense, the (reasonable) expectation seems to be that customers will understand that Shutterfly is happy to promote any occasion that causes people to spend money, and exercise their option to participate, or not.

What is so especially offensive about fathers? Every single person who is or has ever been on the face of this earth has a father. You can't get more inclusive than that. You may not like your father, he may have been abusive, he may have abandoned you. Perhaps you are grieving because your own father has died, or because a child of whom you are the father has died, or because you want desperately to be a father yourself but are not, or because you are estranged from your own children.

However, the simple, inescapable, biological fact is that you have a father. Without him, you would be literally nothing.

(Will that always be the case? I've seen enough changes over the past seven decades to rule out nothing. What am I saying? I've seen enough in the past four years to be skeptical of anything that begins, "It can't happen...". If you, yourself, are a clone, or the product of some manipulation that didn't start off with an egg and a sperm, let me know. I don't promise to believe you, but you might have an interesting story.)

Honor Your Father made the top-10 list of imperitives, along with Don't Murder, Don't Steal, Be Faithful to Your Spouse, and other rules that make life worth living.

It is popular, for reasons complex and no doubt at heart diabolical, to diminish the importance of men in general and fathers in particular. Don't fall for it.

Honor your father.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 10:19 am | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous]

I have nothing to improve on the Memorial Day posts I have made in the past, except this thought that has been on my mind lately.

Perhaps the best way we can honor those who stood bravely "between their lov'd home and the war's desolation" is to stop taking for granted the freedom they gave their lives to protect. Let's not defile their sacrifices by treating lightly the present-day assaults on our sacred liberty and Constitutional rights, but work to preserve what was gained at so great a cost. 

Oh! thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 27, 2024 at 9:03 pm | Edit
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Category Politics: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Random Musings: [first] [previous] [newest]

The U.S. News & World Report has come out with another ranking, this time of U.S. states, based on factors such as education, economy, public infrastructure, safety and the environment. I don't usually care much for such lists, based as they often are on factors opposite to what I would like (e.g. "family-friendly" countries being those with free daycare, instead of economies that allow families to live on one income). Sometimes they might even be outright harmful, which this one could be considered.

Why? Because New Hampshire is ranked #2, and Florida #9. What's more, Florida ranks #1 in the categories of Education and Economy. (New Hampshire is #1 in Crime, i.e. lack thereof.)

That's a good thing, you say? Well, yes and no. But neither New Hampshire nor Florida needs some magazine to tell us we have it good. We know that, and I'm not at all sure we should want to let those from other states in on the secret. I used to argue with the many people who say, "I could never live in Florida; it's too hot and too buggy; there are hurricanes and alligators." Now I don't bother. We love to have people visit—tourism is a big part of our economy—but we don't need any more permanent residents. You voted for the policies that made your state unliveable; don't come here and mess up ours. As the New Hampshire bumper sticker says, "Welcome to New Hampshire; Don't Mass it up."

(In case you're curious, the #1 state overall is Utah.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 13, 2024 at 6:30 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

You need to get out of your comfort zone.

How often have you heard that advice? Or given it?

It sounds good, as do most dangerous ideas that contain a bit of truth. 

Doing hard things can lead to physical, mental, and spiritual growth. But it can also break you. Children grow best when we give them plenty of opportunity to stretch their abilities—not by subjecting them to the rack. That goes for adults, too.

Here's the thing: For many people, living ordinary, daily life is out of their comfort zone, and they get all the growth opportunities they need just making it through the day. Let me say that again.

For many, daily life is out of their comfort zone.

I guarantee that you know people for whom that is true. It may very well be true for you; if not all the time, at least on occasion. The catch is, none of us knows where someone else is in this. We have no idea how hard someone may be working to make it seem as if his life is easy—or even bearable. And that's okay. Life is hard, and growth comes out of the struggle. As long as we remember that it's not our job to push someone else out of his own comfort zone. I know a woman who learned to swim by being thrown out of a boat in the middle of a lake. A lake with alligators. She lived, but I don't recommend the method.

In my experience, when someone tells another person, "You need to get out of your comfort zone," he's less interested in helping that person grow than in getting a particular job done. And hoping that a combination of guilt and the prospect of personal growth will push the reluctant victim to accept. Don't do that.

Push yourself? That's great. Reaching, stretching, working hard, and overcoming difficulties can be good for you and for the world—and it usually feels fantastic (in the end; not always in the middle). But when someone else insists you need to get out of your comfort zone, take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes pain can indeed lead to gain, but it is more likely to lead to injury. And for sure, don't say such a thing to others.

Comfort zone? Comfort zone? Where does that idea come from, anyway? I'll take a poll: Who here are feeling relaxed and comfortable with their lives? Raise your hands. I didn't think so.

There's work to be done in this world, and duty calls us all. Difficult tasks and decisions come to us every day, nolens volens. This is not a call to shirk our responsibilities, but to know ourselves and to respect the needs of our fellow-strugglers.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at 10:44 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Here's another observation from reading my father's journals, this one from April 1963.

About 11 a.m. I went out to the car to go out to the Research Lab and the car ('57 Ford) wouldn't start. It was not firing at all. I spent the better part of the lunch hour convincing myself there was no spark. Blackie (the guard at the Building 37 gate) called the man from the GE garage who diagnosed it as a bad condenser.

Since he was not in a position to make repairs, I called the AAA for the first time in years. On the telephone I told the girl that it was not a dead battery and that the trouble had been diagnosed as a bad capacitor. I had hoped this would at least forewarn the man who came, even though he would no doubt want to make his own diagnosis. So in about half an hour he showed up with the question, "What's the matter? Dead battery?"

All he would do was to diagnose the trouble as a bad coil and tow me somewhere. I had him tow me to Dorazio's service station where I left the car to get yet another diagnosis.

Fifty years later and customer service experiences don't look much different. Especially if you try to give them information or ask them to go off-script. After much phone time and several questionable attempts at a fix, a well-known bank is still sending us multiple copies of each e-mail, and they are not interested in hearing what we already know about the problem.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 7:23 pm | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Glimpses of the Past: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Looking over old medical records, something caught my eye: our left-handed child's first tooth was the lower-right central incisor, and our right-handed child's first tooth was the lower-left central incisor.

Two data points don't tell you much, so I expanded the question to those of our grandchildren for whom I had that data. This raised the sample size to nine.

Person

Handedness

First Tooth

1

left

lower right

2

right

lower left

3

right

lower left

4

right

lower right

5

right

lower left

6

right

lower left

7

left

lower right

8

left

lower right

9

right

lower left

As you can see, in every case but #4, there is an inverse correlation between the side of first tooth eruption and handedness.

Nine is still a very small sample size, but it was enough to send me to the internet. Here's what a brief search unearthed.

  • The writers of scientific papers need some serious help in their use of language.
  • Some of them also appear to have a problem with arithmetic.
  • Apparently, the idea of a correlation between first tooth eruption and handedness is indeed a thing, and not just my observation.
  • It is true that there seems to be a statistically significant correlation between first tooth position and handedness.
  • However, the correlation does not match my observations, since the researchers found it to be a direct correlation, rather than inverse.
  • It's possible that our grandson Noah (#4) is the only normal one among us.

Well, that was a bit of fun, but in all seriousness, it's one more nail in the coffin of my faith in the reliability of our scientific publications. This is nothing knew; it began when I worked in a university medical research laboratory. (I have all of one published scientific paper to my name, though several others have my fingerprints on them.) There I observed first-hand the politics and good-ol'-boy networking that goes into getting a paper published. Subsequent years and experience have only made the situation more obvious.

In this case, I have neither the scientific nor the mathematical expertise to critique the science, nor do I want to spend much time trying to understand the papers. But it didn't take more than a few minutes of reading to catch some glaring errors.

Thanks to Automated Idiocy, scammers are getting more proficient. Do you remember when the e-mails informing you that you could gain access to a million-dollar inheritance, if you'd only send a small fee of $50 to someone in Nigeria, were easily distinguishable by their terrible spelling and grammar? Finding this kind of error in a scientific journal makes me want to send it to the spam folder.

Granted, the authors of the papers may not have English as their native language. And the errors in arithmetic may be simple typos. But how were these obvious faults not caught in peer review? And where were the editors? A journal is only as good as the papers it publishes, so it should be in their best interest to vet carefully what they choose to print.

Something doesn't add up here.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 11:38 am | Edit
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Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 5, 2024 at 10:46 am | Edit
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Books, sermons, and debates on the problem of unanswered petitionary prayer have been around for as long as people have been praying. To my simple mind, the answer boils down to this:

  1. A cosmic-vending-machine god would be a horror, speeding the world to hell even faster than we're already racing.
  2. Capricious gods are basically humans with superpowers—think ancient Greece and Rome—and can almost be dealt with: you try to keep them happy, you rejoice when they do what you ask, and you shrug your shoulders when they don't. You win some, you lose some.
  3. An all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful god who describes himself as a father will act more like ideal human parents, who know that bringing up children requires sometimes saying yes, sometimes saying no, and sometimes weeping when your response causes horrific pain—like parents who put a tiny child through the torment of chemotherapy because the alternative is so much worse.

I leave out the option that prayers aren't answered because there's no one to hear. Those who pray—and "thinking good thoughts" is also a prayer—believe someone or something will hear their heartfelt cry. The only question is what, or who.

It really comes down to a choice between (2) and (3). Choosing (3) requires that we accept that even our best, most unselfish, and most desperate prayers will sometimes seem to be ignored. Thus, I've come more-or-less to terms with the problem of unanswered prayer. It's the problem of answered prayer that seems to me to be sorely neglected.

We blithely sing,

Have thine own way, Lord!
Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter,
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me
after thy will,
while I am waiting,
yielded and still.

But have we ever really considered the perspective of the clay? The process that results in a beautiful vase sees the clay being slapped, kneaded, pushed, prodded, spun on a dizzying wheel, cut and trimmed, and fired in a blistering-hot oven. Is this really what we're asking for?

Stupid me, I keep praying, regularly and earnestly, "Make me into the person you want me to be." Apparently my Potter is taking me seriously. This is where I feel like pleading to be an ordinary, sun-dried pot, shaped by gentle hands and soft nudges. Who wants to be a Ming vase anyway? But it's been a potter's wheel kind of year.

Be careful what you ask for. Your prayers just might be answered.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 4, 2023 at 4:57 pm | Edit
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Once again, the CATO Institute has come out with its assessment of relative personal and economic freedom among our states. I'm always suspicious of all those surveys that purport to measure "best state to live in," "happiest city," "most family-friendly country," and such, because so often their criteria are not only different from my own, but even polar opposites. But the CATO Institute appears to have done a good job, and they're open about their criteria and how they calculate their rankings. It goes without saying that there are "freedoms" considered here that each of us would be happy to do without. I'm actually rather pleased that Florida ranks #37 in "gambling freedom," although I understand why that's included in the calculations. They even have an appendix for high-profile issues, such as abortion, that make a generalized assessment of freedom difficult.

Here is the definition of freedom that undergirds this ranking:

We ground our conception of freedom on an individual rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This understanding of freedom follows from the natural-rights liberal thought of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Robert Nozick, but it is also consistent with the rights-generating rule-utilitarianism of Herbert Spencer and others.

Here is an image of the overall freedom rankings. I encourage you to go to the website, however, where you can find much more information.

Way to go, New Hampshire and Florida, the gold and silver winners!

The dubious distinction of coming in dead last goes to my birth state of New York, where I lived until I was 15 and came back again for college and several years thereafter, home of my beloved Adirondack Mountains, and birthplace of our children. I still love New York and pray for it daily, but can no longer imagine—as I once dreamed—of returning to live there. However, your mileage may vary. One man's liberty is another man's license, and New York may be just where you'll feel freest in the areas that matter most to you. (If so, please stay there and enjoy it. Don't move to Florida for the weather or the low taxes and then do your best to make us like New York.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 5:56 am | Edit
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Category Hurricanes and Such: [first] [previous] [newest] Politics: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

Here's an interesting video about toilet paper I just came across (17 minutes @ regular speed, language warning). It begins with the extreme statement that the average American uses 141 rolls of toilet paper a year. You may recognize that as a useless, inflammatory statistic. First of all, I question any statement that tries to give itself credibility by being more precise than justified. To say 141 conveys no more information than "around 140" but looks more scientific because of the extra significant digit. But I'm quibbling. The real issue is that toilet paper rolls come in a variety of sizes, so that number could easily be off by a factor of three, even if you only count household use; office and public bathrooms often use industrial-sized rolls. So all this number really means is that Americans use a lot of toilet paper.

This makes me suspect the other numbers in the video as well. So why am I posting it? Well, the history of toilet paper, and toilet paper alternatives, is interesting. Though come to think of it, I quarrel with some of that, too. The idea that excrement is "gross" was not the invention of clever marketers, as any reader of the Old Testament will attest.

Still, it got me rethinking the idea of a bidet, one of the ones that attaches right to your existing toilet. Actually, I've been envying the Japanese their fancy toilets since we visited there in 2006, but that's both more money and more work than I'm in the mood for. But I always thought of a bidet as a luxury item for occasional use; it never occurred to me that it could replace toilet paper. (Think how handy that would have been in 2020.) And I'd never heard of "bidet towels," which make a lot of sense. I mean, you don't save toilet paper if you use it to dry off afterwards. Then again, Japanese toilets do the drying for you, too: wash, flush, and blow dry.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 8:33 am | Edit
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Category Random Musings: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] Conservationist Living: [first] [previous]

This year's Veterans Day tribute is to all the U.S. (and pre-U.S.) veterans among our direct ancestors.

Pequot War, 1634-1638: Thomas Barnes, Jonathan Brewster, Thomas Bull, Nathaniel Merriman

King Philip's War, 1675-1678: John Curtiss, Isaac Davis, Isaac Johnson

Queen Anne's War (part of the War of the Spanish Succession), 1702-1713: Giles Doud

French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years' War), 1754-1763: Samuel Chapman, Moses Whitney

Revolutionary War, 1775-1983: Jonathan Burr, Erastus Chapman, Agur Curtiss, Nathaniel Fox, Nehemiah Gillett, Christopher Johnson, Anthony Jones, Stephen Kelsey, Seth Langdon, James Pennington, Oliver Scott, Joseph Scovil, Henry Shepard, Elihu Tinker, Benjamin Welles, Moses Whitney

Civil War, 1861-1865: Phillip Barb, Anson Bradbury, Robert Bristol, David Rice, Nathan Smith

World War I, 1914-1918: Howard Langdon, George Smith

World War II, 1939-1945: Alice Porter (Wightman), Bill Wightman. I give honorable mention to Warren Langdon, my father, who served during WWII on the Manhattan Project. I like to say that his work helped save the life of Porter's father, who, being a medic, would have been one of the first to hit the beach should an invasion of Japan have been necessary.

I'm sure there are more whose names I don't know. I have not as yet found representatives from the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, nor the Spanish-American War. I know there were also those who served during peacetime.

I'm sure they weren't all always completely honorable, because they were ordinary people. They didn't even always fight on the same side. But one thing, I'm certain, they all had in common: They gave their bodies, their lives, their health, and their futures to stand "between their loved home and the war's desolation." For that I thank and honor them, and those who still make the sacrifice today.

That said, I'm going to put in a plug here for the all-volunteer military, which I think no longer gets the respect and support it deserves. We are too far removed from the 1960's and 70's, when the military draft cast a long, difficult, and painful shadow on the country. In that respect it is much better to be young today. A career in the armed services can be a very good choice—but it should be just that, a choice. It’s better for families, for society, and for the military as well.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 6:28 pm | Edit
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Why haven't I left the Episcopal Church? I know many who have, from individuals, to churches, to in one case an entire diocese. Certainly I have no loyalty to its national organization, which I'm afraid I find heretical in many ways—as well as narrow-minded and unkind. Besides, I've always had more attachment to the Church as the Body of Christ as a whole than to any particular denomination. Still, I'm most at home in the Anglican form of worship, and have been part of Episcopal churches for over a quarter of a century.

Why stay in what I believe to be an openly heretical denomination? For one thing, no denomination I've ever experienced has not suffered from errors, often egregious ones. Not even "non-denominational" or independent churches. What matters much more is the particular, local church, of which there are many in the Episcopal Church, and especially in the larger Anglican Communion worldwide, that remain faithful.

For another, the nature of an Anglican service makes it more difficult—though not impossible—for a church to go too far off the rails. Even when the sermons are openly heretical—we've been there—the Scripture readings, prayers, creeds, and rubrics tend keep the worship itself in line.

Nonetheless, the policies and struggles of our denomination are painful and discouraging at times. So it was with enthusiasm and hope that I learned about the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal, a grassroots movement of young people working within the Episcopal Church for restoration and renewal.

Where I encountered them was through their Ninety-five Theses to the Episcopal Church—a deliberate nod to Martin Luther—which I reproduce below. I can't say I completely support (or even understand) all 95 of them, but for almost all I can say an enthusiastic AMEN! They pretty much nail where the Episcopal Church has gone off track.

On a personal note, it may be the "least of these," but being an enthusiastic hymn singer, I'm particularly enamored of #57 (emphasis mine): The words of Scripture, the Creeds, the liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer, AND THE HYMNS are not to be changed to insert "gender-inclusive"  or "gender-neutral" language. To be clear: when a woman sings "Thou my great Father, I Thy true son," she is not committing gender dysphoria. I speak as a woman, an Episcopalian, and a prescriptivist.

All hope is ultimately in God, but I'm also feeling especially hopeful because of these young people who are determined not leave their church, even though the church has left them. I love their quote from C. S. Lewis:

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

The following statements are coming from parishioners and priests of the Episcopal Church who are committed to its flourishing and faithfulness. In true Protestant fashion, and in honor of our faith tradition, they will be framed as ninety-five theses in hopes that, unlike the Roman leaders during the Reformation, the Episcopal Church will honor the call to return to the traditional values of the English Reformers, the Doctors of the Anglican Church, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Homilies, the Church Fathers, and the Creeds–Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian. Additionally, the three Anglican authorities: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

  1. Christian bishops, priests, deacons, and other ministers must not be permitted to deny that Jesus is truly God and truly man.
  2. Christian ministers must not be permitted to deny that Jesus physically and bodily rose from the dead.
  3. Christian ministers must not be permitted to deny that Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  4. Christian ministers must not be permitted to deny the Second Coming of Christ.
  5. Christian ministers must not be permitted to deny the reality of Eternal Life.
  6. That since the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds affirm all the above doctrines, Christian ministers who publicly recite them in their churches, while privately or subtly denying them, are liars.
  7. Christian ministers must affirm the authority of Scripture as the Word of God. Any denial of Scripture’s authority in the determination of doctrine and administration of discipline shall not be tolerated.
  8. Christian ministers must affirm the authority and divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and avoid questioning it on the basis that it is a culturally relative or historically unreliable text.
  9. Christian ministers must readily affirm the promise of Eternal Life after death in the New Creation, so that the faithful may be given true hope in Christ.
  10. Christian ministers who attack the authority of Christ, the Apostles, the Church Fathers, the English Reformers, or the Doctors of the Church attack the very ground they stand on.
  11. Christian ministers must affirm the existence of miracles, as Scripture testifies.
  12. The Church must affirm the reality of original sin.
  13. The Church must affirm the reality of God’s judgment upon sin.
  14. The Church has no authority to explicitly deny the existence of eternal damnation, given that Jesus Christ spoke so plainly of it. 
  15. The Church must affirm that God is all-powerful, or omnipotent.
  16. The Church must affirm that God is all-knowing, or omniscient.
  17. The Church must affirm that God is all-good, or omnibenevolent.
  18. The Church must affirm that there is only one true God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as described in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
  19. The Church must affirm that Christ is the only way to God.
  20. The Church must affirm that Christianity is absolutely true and the only way to salvation.
  21. Given that the foundational documents of the Anglican Church, principally the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571, uphold all of the above doctrines, the Church does not have the authority to deny said doctrines.
  22. While liberation theology and the social gospel contain elements of truth, they cannot take the place of the Biblical Gospel, as they change its message from redemption of sin and eternal life into belief in an earthly utopia.
  23. Pantheism is heretical as it denies the true nature of God. All those who teach the doctrine of God as all-encompassing spiritual oneness are heretics and should be condemned as such.
  24. Process Theology denies God’s absolute, eternal nature and replaces it with pantheism; therefore, it should not be taught in Christ’s church.
  25. While we can unite with other religions in earthly matters, such as promoting understanding and the common good, we cannot unite with them in spiritual matters.
  26. Agnostic, Atheistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, Satanist, or otherwise occultic religious beliefs, practices, symbols, rituals, and idols are to be utterly rejected and should never be allowed in Christ’s Church.
  27. There is only one God in the Old and New Testaments and to deny that is to make God relative, changeable, and not absolute.
  28. The purpose of studying theology is to approach the absolute truth about God and reflect on what he has revealed to us.
  29. Our theology should not relativize absolute truths about God that have been revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
  30. Ministers whose theology is essentially Unitarian Universalist should stop calling themselves “Episcopalian” or “Anglican” and recuse themselves from positions in the Church.
  31. The Church should be much quicker to discipline ministers who deny the divinity of Christ than to discipline ministers who will not bless same-sex “unions” or who decline to ordain women to the priesthood.
  32. Everyone should be held to the same standard of Christian sexual ethics regardless of orientation or personal situation. Hypocritically condemning some sin while ignoring others is not righteous.
  33. Churches should spend more time talking about Eternal Life in Christ than about contemporary political issues.
  34. The aim of priests should be to teach their congregations Christian doctrines, rather than casting doubts about such doctrines into the minds of the faithful.
  35. The Church should be more dogmatic about theological doctrine than about political and social ideologies.
  36. The Church should be united in essential theological beliefs and grant individual Christian liberty in non-essential beliefs, rather than the inverse.
  37. Preaching about God’s love without preaching about God’s holiness and wrath toward sin is just as bad as the inverse.
  38. To make sin merely about systemic injustices reduces the Gospel to an ineffective political message with no spiritually redemptive power.
  39. Social justice is an important part of the Gospel but not the whole of the Gospel, and it too often has become a euphemism for a partisan political agenda.
  40. Priests should never give their congregations the impression that God makes no moral demands of them.
  41. Parishes should hold their members to high personal moral standards.
  42. Priests should not hesitate to preach against personal sin.
  43. Incumbents should not be denied the tenure of the office of Rector. Bishops should abolish the office of Priest-in-Charge for all but interim situations.
  44. All parishes should present a clear theological message consistent with Scripture, the doctrines of historic Anglicanism, and the example of the Early Church.
  45. Homilists should not hesitate to preach theological dogma from the pulpit.
  46. It is crucial for every parish member to be directed toward having a vibrant, living faith in Jesus Christ. We need to get to know Him for who He truly is, as was taught in Scripture.
  47. There should be limits on theological diversity within the Church, especially when it reaches the point of denying the essentials of the faith as defined by our historic creeds.
  48. Children are to be taught the Scriptures, theology, and Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer so that they know why they come to church, what to do whilst in church, and how to live their faith outside of church.
  49. Parish leaders should teach Christian apologetics to children and adults so that they know how to defend the Christian faith before others.
  50. Confirmands are not to be confirmed if they do not profess belief in the essentials of Christianity.
  51. People with Agnostic, Atheistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, Satanist, or otherwise non-Christian beliefs must not be admitted to or allowed to remain in positions of leadership, teaching, or authority in the Church.
  52. Priests should not invite non-believers to receive the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist "lest they bring judgment upon themselves."
  53. The Church does not have the authority to prevent the Eucharist from being offered to believers in its churches on any grounds other than excommunication or lack of Trinitarian baptism.
  54. Churches and their congregations should regularly engage in evangelism.
  55. The point of missionary work should be to address people’s spiritual needs by telling them about Christ and the Good News of his Resurrection, in addition to attending to their physical needs.
  56. The Church must do social justice work on its own terms, not on the terms of any secular political factions. Christ and His true Gospel are to be the primary motivations for the charity and social justice work done by the Church.
  57. The words of Scripture, the Creeds, the liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Hymns are not to be changed to insert “gender-inclusive” or “gender-neutral” language. Nor should the rites of Holy Matrimony be rewritten to insert “marriage” between two men, two women, or anything else outside the union of one man and one woman into one flesh.
  58. All are to be baptized in the name of the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit [or Holy Ghost],” not in any alternatives such as “Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer;” nor should feminine pronouns be applied to God in these texts, as that renders their baptism invalid and ineffective.
  59. While the divine essence of the Lord has no gender, God has revealed Himself as “He,” so He is to be referred to as such. Jesus Christ was, is, and forever shall be a man; thus, He should always be referred to in the masculine, as doing otherwise denies his historicity and humanity.
  60. We should be more concerned about our worship language being offensive to God than it being offensive to our worldly culture.
  61. The Church must not make alliances with any secular political factions.
  62. Scripture, reason, tradition, and natural law–not contemporary culture and politics–should be the sole authorities for the Church’s stances on issues of sexuality and gender.
  63. The Church must strongly condemn adultery, extramarital sex or fornication, polygamy, sexual activity involving minors, incest, rape, and bestiality.
  64. The Church must strongly condemn pornography.
  65. There must never be risqué or sexually-themed displays in the Church.
  66. Due to not only the teaching of Holy Scripture, but also scientific advancements such as ultrasound technology, it is obvious that abortion is the direct taking of a human life.
  67. The Church must support societal efforts to protect the safety of innocents, including the unborn, as well as encourage the upholding and following of secular laws consistent with Scripture and Christian righteousness.
  68. Christian ministers are to model Biblical morals for their congregations and dioceses and to be held to a high standard of holiness.
  69. Bishops should not wield episcopal authority to discipline churches, priests, bishops, or parishioners who have not explicitly rejected the doctrines and practices of Anglican Christianity or who have otherwise done nothing wrong according to Biblical morality.
  70. Bishops should use episcopal authority to discipline ministers who misuse the sacraments, perform un-Christian ceremonies, teach heretical beliefs, or lead notoriously sinful lives.
  71. The use of legal action to seize the property of dissident parishes is petty and poor conduct by Church ministers.
  72. The Church should continue to condemn drunkenness, drug abuse, excessive gambling, and all self-destructive vices whilst providing support to those struggling with them.
  73. The Church must not ignore the voices of those who call the Church to repentance, as the Prophets did in the Holy Scriptures and the Reformers did during the Protestant Reformation.
  74. The Church should allow itself to be corrected by evangelical churches and thinkers in certain aspects, as when John Wesley inspired Anglicans to correct some of their errors.
  75. In order to revive itself, the Church should adopt a more evangelical mindset and elevate the role of personal conversion, evangelism, discipleship, and confession.
  76. The Church will likely die out if it continues to drift away from the historic faith.
  77. The Church has a commitment to diversity yet is not itself diverse, due to its lack of evangelism and its de-emphasis of Biblical theology.
  78. Despite its progressive ideals and desire to “dismantle and heal white supremacy,” the Church remains one of the least diverse religious groups in the United States.
  79. Progressive Anglicans claim to want to elevate non-white voices, yet ignore the cries for repentance and calls to obedience to God's law from overwhelmingly non-white Anglicans from the Global South.
  80. The Church claims to uphold the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Anglicanism, yet tolerates countless theological errors that the foundational Anglican texts such as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Homilies explicitly declare to be heretical.
  81. The Church bears the name of “church,” yet tolerates theological errors that the Church Fathers explicitly declare to be heretical.
  82. The Church speaks constantly of inclusivity, yet largely fails to create an environment inclusive of those who hold orthodox Biblical views.
  83. The Church usually calls for justice only in ways that are acceptable to the political left and theological liberals.
  84. The Church’s rhetoric on social issues and current events is frequently indistinguishable from that of progressive political commentators.
  85. The Church is quick to criticize evangelicals for conflating faith and politics, yet dedicates a far greater share of its rhetoric to political issues than do evangelicals.
  86. In offering solely a progressive political message, the Church offers people nothing they cannot get from secular culture, which is one reason why it gains so few new members.
  87. The progressive faction of the Church is seldom self-critical, except to repent of not being progressive enough.
  88. The Church keeps pushing for more and more alterations to Christian doctrine, despite the risk that they will further divide the body of Christ and cause more schism.
  89. Convicting people of sin and showing them their need for a Savior, as opposed to making people feel affirmed, should be our focus; convicting people of sin, when done in a spirit of love and charity, is healthy and will help us to grow in our faith in God.
  90. Bishops, priests, deacons, and other ministers who claim the title of Christian while rejecting the essentials of the faith risk facing God’s judgment.
  91. Bishops, priests, deacons, and other ministers who lead their congregations astray risk facing God’s judgment.
  92. Seminary professors who make it their goal to replace the godly values of seminarians with heretical beliefs and political ideology risk facing God’s judgment.
  93. Seminaries must not make affiliations with any group that affirms heretical beliefs or practices lest they risk facing God’s judgment.
  94. Bishops, priests, deacons, and other ministers who not only tolerate but affirm and encourage what they know to be sin according to Scripture for the sake of not offending people risk facing God’s judgment.
  95. Bishops, priests, deacons, and other ministers who lie to the public and claim to represent Christ while denying His humanity, divinity, commandments, and teachings are using the Lord’s name in vain and risk facing God’s judgment.

We would like these concerns addressed at the next General Convention. This is part of our commitment of being God’s servants to restore the Church we revere. This document will be sent to as many congregations and leaders in the Episcopal Church as possible, and posted on the doors of as many Episcopal churches as possible. We follow the philosophy that retreatism only leads the Church to falter more, thus we are not trying to form a new Anglican denomination, we are calling for reform within the Episcopal Church.

Let us return to the Lord and long live the Episcopal Church!

Having now posted their Theses on my own "door," I will also say that I like their sense of humor, since they preface their list with, "Signed and composed by the Episcopal Fellowship for Renewal, under the patronage of St. Jude."

St. Jude, as you might know, is the patron saint of lost causes.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 9:21 pm | Edit
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We commonly go to lunch with some of our choir friends after church on Sundays; recently we were at our local Outback Steakhouse. The meal was notable for four reasons:

  1. We were seated immediately, as there were very few other patrons eating there, a sad phenomenon reflective of many problems the once-packed restaurant has had in a new building and under new management.
  2. It took a full hour from being seated to the appearance of my Outback Burger. I was beginning to wonder if they'd had to slaughter the steer first.
  3. Once the meal came, it was one of the very best hamburgers I've ever eaten. (One of the messiest, too. I don't understand why restaurant burgers are usually too big to eat graciously.)
  4. It was the first of October, and the restaurant was extravagantly decorated for Hallowe'en.

It is the last that inspired this post. If I needed any proof of the power of the Name of Jesus, and the respect our society pays—albeit in a backhanded way—to Christianity, this season would supply it.

Businesses that would never at Christmastime dare to feature a crêche, or even call the holiday by its name, show no such reticence to decorate with witches at Hallowe'en. Which religion, then, is taken the more seriously? Which god the more feared?

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at 5:00 am | Edit
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Back when girls of my generation were swooning over those upstart musicians from England known as the Beatles, I couldn't have cared less. My heart was given to David McCallum.

The show was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and I did my best to catch it on television every week. (Remember, in those days if you missed a show, it was gone forever—unless you managed to find it in summer reruns.) McCallum's character, Illya Kuryakin, easily upstaged the show's main character, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn). I wasn't the only one; as Kuryakin, McCallum received more fan mail than any star in MGM's history.

I didn't write fan letters, and I didn't scream and swoon. What I did was buy and treasure his music. David McCallum was the son of musicians, and a classically-trained musician himself. I still have this record: Music: A Part of Me. McCallum plays the oboe on this excerpt, which he also composed.

I don't remember when we started watching the TV show N.C.I.S., though it was after it had already been on air a number of years—we eventually caught up via Netflix. Porter was the initiator, and I steadfastly resisted—until David McCallum, as the character Donald ("Ducky") Mallard, drew me in. Yep, he was still fascinating, 50 years later. Here's one of my favorite scenes:

I confess we stopped watching N.C.I.S. a few years ago, so the departure of Ducky from the show has less impact for me. He was the last-remaining member of the original cast, and although his role had been reduced for quite a while, at age 90 he was still planning to continue on with the work he loved so well.

As we say in the Episcopal Church, 

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 9:17 am | Edit
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Since we always buy used cars, I may not live long enough to get a cool car like the one my sister-in-law just bought. It has some impressive features, such as using facial recognition to know which of its regular drivers is sitting in the driver's seat, and adjusting the seat and mirrors accordingly. It has camera vision all around the car, and if in spite of all that you are about to back into an obstacle, it applies the brakes for you. It does many more cool things, including getting you from Point A to Point B, the last being pretty much where it and my own car intersect.

Recently I read an article that somewhat cooled my auto-envy: Modern Cars Are a Data Privacy "Nightmare," Says Study, in the International Business Times. If you're happy with your fancy modern car, don't read it. Elon Musk-haters will probably get an ironic kick out of it. It's a short article. Here's a teaser:

"Modern cars are a privacy nightmare" at a time when "car makers have been bragging about their cars being 'computers on wheels'", said Mozilla, which is best known for its privacy-conscious Firefox web browser. "While we worried that our doorbells and watches that connect to the internet might be spying on us, car brands quietly entered the data business by turning their vehicles into powerful data-gobbling machines."

Tesla was the worst offender, according to the study, with Nissan coming in second and singled out for seeking some of the "creepiest categories" of data, including sexual activity.

The study found that a staggering 84 percent of car brands admitted to sharing users' personal data with service providers, data brokers, and other undisclosed businesses.

Today's connected vehicles not only mine data from driving, but track in-vehicle entertainment and third-party functions such as satellite radio or maps.

Enjoy your next ride!

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 5:49 am | Edit
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