28 October 2007

Collect (Prayer) of the Week: Pentecost, proper 25

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

26 October 2007

Dual booting: PCLinuxOS 2007 and Ubuntu 7.10

As you all know, I am a HUGE PCLOS fan. It is my distro of choice. However, with Dell selling systems with Ubuntu pre-installed, I know I will be getting some calls about what to do. So, I figured I would install Ubuntu and see what I can figure out. I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu (7.10, ‘Gutsy Gibbon’) and burned it to a CD. I then rebooted my laptop (an old Compaq) and launched into the Live CD. Everything seemed to work pretty well. (Except my wireless card. But I'm used to this.) So I clicked on the ‘Install’ icon and went about the install process. I wanted to make sure I could keep my PCLinuxOS install intact so I made sure Ubuntu installed on the remaining free space on my hard drive. This is one of the greatest features of Linux, IMO. I can take a small 30GB hard drive (small by today’s standards) and install two operating systems and still have plenty of space for all of my documents and pictures. In fact, I have the exact same on both partitions with room to spare. (For those of you who don’t know, what I’m talking about here is dividing the hard drive up into small drives. The OSs (Operating Systems) looks at the different divided drives as two separate hard drives. On one drive I have installed PCLinuxOS 2007 and on the other, Ubuntu 7.10. Now, isn’t that about as clear as mud?) Of course, to make this possible, I didn’t copy over my music library from the external drive (that takes about 60% of the whole 30GB drive).

Anyway, the install went just fine. When I boot my laptop now I can choose between PCLOS or Ubuntu. So, I chose Ubuntu. And it took FOORRREEEEVVVVVEEEEEERRRRRRR to get to the login screen. After I selected Ubuntu, there were three errors: ‘ACPI: resource is not an IRQ entry’. Then, when I finally got to the login screen, and logged in, I noticed a floppy drive icon in my navigation window. The reason this is weird is because my laptop doesn’t have a floppy drive! Hmm... Next, I saw that there was an icon flashing in the upper right corner alerting me that there were updates. So I clicked on that icon and installed the updates. After that, there was another flashing icon telling me that there were drivers available for my wireless card. Cool. I clicked on that icon and it downloaded and installed the driver for the card. Then I clicked on the network icon in the system tray and selected the wireless connection. I was given a list of wireless networks in my area, including my own. I selected my network and typed in my encryption key. Within a couple of seconds, I was connected to the wireless network. So I unplugged the wired connection and launched Firefox to go check out the Ubuntu forums for my error messages.

I had to search around for a little bit, but I found answers and fixed the problems. Now, Ubuntu boots a lot quicker and before where I had just a blank screen, I now see the Ubuntu artwork. Oh, and I don’t have a floppy drive listed anymore. Ain’t help wonderful!

There are a couple of things that I wanted to install, one being Avant-Window-Manager. This is a dock very similar to Mac OS X’s Dock. Another trip to the forums and I had AWM up and running in no time.

At this stage in the game, I rebooted my computer and selected PCLinuxOS from the menu. I wanted to see if the Ubuntu install borked my PCLOS install. It didn’t. Everything was just where it should be and everything was working just fine. I logged out and rebooted into Ubuntu to continue configuring it to my tastes.

There are a couple of new features in Ubuntu. One is Deskbar and the other is Compiz-Fusion. Deskbar is a search applet that sits in the panel. You just select it and search for anything on you computer. A great feature that’s very similar to Spotlight on Macs and Search in Vista (if you have an older system, like Windows XP, you can get Google Desktop to function in similar way). It will take it a little bit to index your computer but once it’s finished you can search for anything on your system even the meta information. For example, I can do a search for text contained within a PDF file and it will show me the document.

Compiz-Fusion is a step up and beyond the Beryl project that comes with PCLinuxOS. At one time, Beryl and Compiz were one company but they split up to work on different things. Later the re-joined forces and Compiz-Fusion was the outcome. Compiz-Fusion is a 3D environment that allows the user to enjoy a little ‘eye candy’, as they say. I don’t think it’s eye candy, per se. One of the features that is extremely helpful is that of virtual desktops. Now, Linux has had this feature for as long as I can remember but with Compiz-Fusion you get a really enjoyable way of seeing your different desktops. I use this feature every day and when I switch over to my Mac, I wish it was there (However, with Leopard, Apple’s new OS, this feature is there. They call it Spaces.).

All of the other standard apps are here that let you browse the Internet, check your email, instant message your friends, manage you music and pictures, and watch movies. And like PCLOS, Ubuntu is completely free. All-in-all this has been an enjoyable experience; much better than my last venture into the world of Ubuntu. So, for now, I’m going to continue using Ubuntu and see how it goes.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

21 October 2007

Collect (Prayer) for the Week: Pentecost, Proper 24

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

14 October 2007

Collect: Pentecost, Proper 23

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

12 October 2007

Different Expressions

'What if well-funded megachurches decided to see some home-based faith communities as partners in ministry, so they could overlap and share resources and not see one another as enemies or even alternatives, but as two expressions of the same thing? That takes us in the direction I think we need to go, and will be good for the whole range of faith communities.'

Brian D. McLaren

I find that quote very exciting. I have never looked at other denominations in this light before and it brings a whole new view from which we can all work together. The problem comes, of course, when we see 'our church' as the 'right' way of 'doing church' instead of a different expression of people who are trying to following Jesus.

What would happen if we tried to follow this model? I think we would be closer to what Jesus prayed in John 17:
I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

'...that they may become completely one...' I see in this phrase the notion that there will be differences with each other. And that's natural because we are all different. So, this to me, shows that the different expressions of the church becoming completely one is a process. It's going to take time. But the question is, are we working toward that completeness? Are we making strives to show the 'world', i.e., those outside the church, that we are all actually different expressions of the same thing? That we accept different Christian traditions as our brothers and sisters? I pray that this is so.

I can almost hear the cries now. 'But they believe in predestination!' Or, 'They believe in free will!' Or, 'They believe in speaking in tongues!' Or, 'They don't believe the Eucharist actually becomes the body and blood of Jesus!' Or, 'They don't even call it the Eucharist!' And the list goes on and on and on ad nauseam. But do you notice what these are? These are all secondary issues. What we have done is we have taken secondary issues and promoted them to primary issues. Therefore, because of our sudo-primary issues have been looked down upon, we feel we have the right to split the local church; to mutilate the body of Christ. What we must do, family, is remove this pride in ourselves and realize that those sudo-primary issues are just that -- false primary issues. We need to get back to the real primary issues. What are they? The Nicene Creed contains the primary issues. If there is an expression of Christ's body that believes that, then everything else is a secondary issue. Sure, the secondary issues can be debated over, and should be. But they should never, never, be used to dismember the precious body of our Lord Jesus. Those secondary issues, those differences, are there to help the body of Christ reach the world. They should not be seen as a dividing line. Through the Providence of our Lord, those secondary issues have been given to the church to help implement God's kingdom on earth.

So instead of letting those secondary issues divide us, we should see them as different expressions of the same thing and work toward becoming completely one.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

11 October 2007

All Authority?

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Matthew 28.18-20

I have been thinking about this passage for a few days now and I am still contemplating verse 18. Jesus said, 'All authority...on earth has been given to me.' What does this mean?

Some have stated 'all authority on earth' means:

Clarke -- '[To] convert sinners; to sanctify, protect, and perfect his Church; to subdue all nations to himself; and, finally, to judge all mankind.'

Henry -- [Having] prevailed with God, by the sacrifice of atonement, he prevails with men, and deals with them as one having authority, by the ministry of reconciliation. He is indeed, in all causes and over all persons, supreme Moderator and Governor. By him kings reign. All souls are his, and to him every heart and knee must bow, and every tongue confess him to be the Lord. This our Lord Jesus tells them, not only to satisfy them of the authority he had to commission them, and to bring them out in the execution of their commission, but to take off the offence of the cross; they had no reason to be ashamed of Christ crucified, when they saw him thus glorified.

Gill -- '...not only to the saints, whose King he is, and who are made willing to serve him; but to all flesh, to kings and princes, who rule and reign by him; and even to all the wicked of the world, who in some shape or another are made to subserve the ends of his mediatorial kingdom and government: and this is not usurped power, but what is given him, and what he has a right to exercise; having finished sin, abolished death, overcome the world, and destroyed the devil; and must reign till all enemies are subject to him...'

So, I guess my question here is: is this just in the 'unseen' world? I don't know if I buy that. Jesus' whole ministry was about bringing heaven (i.e., the realm of God) to earth (the realm of humanity). He instructed us to pray 'Your kingdom come...on earth as it is in heaven'. It seems to me that his whole ministry was concerned with the whole person, with all of creation, not just some platonic dualism where the 'really important part' is in the unseen world.

No. The whole verse seems to counter just that type of thinking. Jesus was given authority 'in heaven' -- so he has spiritual authority. But then he says he was also given authority 'on earth'. This can't mean he was also given spiritual authority 'on earth'. That doesn't make any sense. No. This seems to be saying that Jesus has been given the same type of authority on earth that he has in 'heaven'.  So what does this look like?  Can you think of some examples where Jesus' authority is manifested 'on earth'?

Peace be with you.

+ OD

05 October 2007

The editor formally known as 'P'

For those of us who aren't aware, 'P' (which stands for priestly) is a member of the Documentary Hypothesis. He is seen as the last source (or next to last source) in a line of four editors who compiled the Pentateuch (Genesis -- Deuteronomy). Supposedly, this source was composed and edited circa 550-400 BCE while in exile during the Babylonian captivity. 'P' is said to see God as a 'distant and unmerciful' god and uses 'Elohim' for God's name. Also, 'P' is supposed to be saying that God didn't create the cosmos ex nihilo, i.e., from nothing, because Genesis 1.2 states, 'The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.'. This (supposedly) indicates that there was something already here (the deep waters) when God started the Genesis project.

Some of you are going, 'Wait. What?' I know. I have some issues with this, too. Here are a few things that I want to point out.

First, concerning the author/editor of the Pentateuch:
Deuteronomy is pretty clear that Moses wrote and compiled the Pentateuch -- 'When Moses had finished writing this entire body of instruction in a book...' (Deut. 31.24). Also, 2Chronicles states, '...Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses' (34.14). In the New Testament, Jesus made several statements that leads one to believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (e.g., Matt. 5.17; 19.8; Mark 12.26; etc.) Over and over we read things like 'Moses said' or 'the Law of Moses' or 'Moses wrote'. For centuries both Jews and Christians believed that Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch. Some have concluded that while Moses was using some other material in some places, he still wrote or edited the Pentateuch.

It may come as no surprise (it didn't to me) that the Documentary Hypothesis started in the Enlightenment. Thomas Hobbes started the debate that Moses couldn't be the author and gave a bunch of 'proof texts'. This was then taken on by a lot of other people. (The list is too lengthy to mention here. If you are truly interested, you can read the link provided at the top.) Needless to say, it came to be accepted by some that there were probably at least four different original source documents to the Pentateuch -- J, E, D, and P -- with P being the latest. There are still scores of people -- theologians, scholars, and laity -- who don't feel the 'evidence' is quite that solid. This leads me to the next point.

Second, concerning P's use of 'Elohim':
If we were Jews, living in exile in Babylon, we would have to ask why we're there. Over and over again in 'The Law of Moses' we would have been warned of the consequences of our actions if we did not follow the covenant. Specifically, we were warned that if we followed other gods, we would be driven from the land. So, if I was a priest, living in exile in Babylon, knowing that we were driven from the land for following other gods, and was writing about how the God of Israel created the world, what name would I give God? YHWH. Without question. I mean, think about it. We are in exile for worshiping 'Elohim' -- 'godS'. I most certainly would not write a opening for our Scriptures that had any reference to Elohim! That would be scandalous. And it might further our exile if I didn't give YHWH glory for what YHWH had done. Especially if this addition 'forced' others to continue in that idolatry. Does that make any sense? (So why was Elohim used? I don't know.)

Thirdly, concerning the cosmos not being created ex nihilo:
Verse two does state most clearly that the 'earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters'. However, instead of saying that this proves that something was already here and that God just retooled it for God's own purposes; what if we see it as the first part of the creation process. I mean, one of the ways of translating verse one is, 'When God was creating the heavens and the earth; the earth...'. To me, this gives the impression that this is what God started with. Furthermore, again, the New Testament is quite clear that God created the cosmos from nothing:
John 1.3 (NLT): God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

1Cor. 8.6 (NLT):
But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.

Col. 1.16 (NLT):
for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

Hebrews 11.3 (NLT):
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

From these verses, as well as several hundred years of traditional understanding of these verses, we see that God created everything including the deep water in Genesis 1.2. In fact, another way of translating the phrase is, 'When God began creating the heavens and the earth, the earth...'

Thirdly, concerning God was 'distant':
This is unfounded, imo. Look at the text and see where God is very much active in a 'hands on' kind of way. They text uses three different ways of referring to the creation of the cosmos: God created, God said, and God made. Each of these are different words in Hebrew and, if we focus on 'made', we see that God was very much involved in creation. The word made gives the impression of taking existing material and forming something -- like cutting down a tree and making a table. The Psalmist poetically declared that God placed the stars in their places by 'the work of [God's] fingers' (Ps 8.3). We also have God 'blessing' aquatic and human life with sexual intercourse and 'telling' the humans what they and the rest of the animal kingdom were to eat (btw, it was only a vegetarian diet).

Lastly, I want to say that I enjoy the challenge of new ideas. It is always important to question why we believe what we believe. And, it doesn't really bother me that there were probably different editors (redactors) of the Hebrew Scriptures (just like there were of the Christian Scriptures). What bothers me is when we start with a premise or our own ideas and thoughts and read that into the text. This is called eisegesis. Our job as students of the Bible and followers of Jesus is to engage in exegesis, i.e., of digging out what the text is actually saying and have that challenge our thoughts and ideas.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

01 October 2007

Eucharistic Visitor

I have been appointed as a Eucharistic Visitor.  I have this honor for three years and the privilege of serving the community of St. John's.  I had to attend a training class and fill out some paper work but my 'certification' was issued by Bishop Moody on August 18th, 2007.

So what is a Eucharistic Visitor?  Good question!  What we do is extend the Eucharist to the parish family who can't attend the public service.  We take bulletins, altar flowers, the Lessons, and a little Eucharist kit to people who are in the hospital or home bound for whatever reason.  We receive our kits right after the rest of the body has partaken of the elements and go directly to the other members.  This extends the worship for those people who can't attend.  It's such an honor to be able to do this.  It is also very humbling.  And I have been twice.  The first time, I went with someone else to see how it's done.  (I found out a couple of weeks later that the gentleman we saw had died.  It changed the way I saw the EV ministry.)  Yesterday I went solo and visited a nice lady at the Veteran's Hospital.  We talked briefly and then shared the Eucharist.  It was great.

My only regret is that I wished I had been able to do this with my Mother.  I never got the opportunity to share the Meal with her while she was in this realm of existence.  I know that we celebrate it every week, that she is at the table with me (as well as the rest of my family that has gone 'to be with the Lord') but I it would have been nice.

If you have something like this at your local fellowship, I would highly recommend getting involved.  If there isn't, perhaps you could 'plant the seed' and get one started.  It is a very important ministry.

Peace be with you.

+ OD