Trumpocalpyse Now

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Protest at Trump Tower in New York Saturday. (Christopher Lee/The New York Times)

It is the Friday night after Election Day as I write this, and I’ve just finished hosting our Video Evensong webcast. It has been a difficult week for millions of Americans, including me and most of our webcasters – as accustomed as we are to praying our way through bad news all around the world. This election was, metaphorically speaking, like this time, Hurricane Katrina blew through all our living rooms and trashed the place. Almost all of us felt personally devastated; and those who might not have voted the way we did, or had the same reaction to the results, knew very well how much their liberal friends were hurting. We’re a great group that way. Since we get together 11 times a week, we know each other well, and everyone is full of both faith and empathy. So we had some discussions among ourselves a time or two after the webcasts. I’m proud of how we all handled ourselves. No one was burdened, the hurt was mostly left unsaid, but did come out as needed – and we saw that while we agree on most things, we don’t agree about everything, and we have no trouble living with that fact.

So I’m happy with my band(width) mates.

But I’m not happy, not at all; Tuesday was one of the darkest days of my life. Our fellow Americans elected the worst imaginable president. We have been let down by our fellow citizens, including members of our own coalition. (“Hillary’s not Barack, so I’m staying home.”) When have we ever seen post-election violence before?

We haven’t, not in our lifetimes. According to historian Douglas Brinkley, the last time was 1860 after the election of Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.

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Portland, Oregon had a small riot late Friday, after most protesters had dispersed. Police blamed anarchists; one person was shot. (Cole Howard/Reuters)

In my mind the voters have destroyed America. I have no belief in the place anymore; the very idea of America has left me. The country we used to have would never have elected this sleazeball. But that country no longer exists. That is a very, very big deal!

California, here I come – at least the thought passes through my mind. (Now would be a good time for me to leave Indiana once and for all.) But I live in relative poverty and could never afford to live on the West Coast. On top of that I hate earthquakes.

The election of you-know-who fell on me like a ton of bricks; I was peaceably strolling by last Tuesday, minding my own business, when the Big One hit and that apartment building fell on me. I’m still in shock.

I keep returning to the thought that we’ve failed our grandchildren – and I don’t even have any. I visualize my grandparents in heaven grabbing me by the lapels and asking me, “How did you let this happen?”

Hey, don’t blame me; I went Democrat when I was 13. That was the year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I campaigned for the entire Democratic ticket. Barry Goldwater rejected the Civil Rights Act and I rejected the politics of where I’m from.

Now, 52 years later, every one of them spent in political activism, I quit.

I will do whatever I can to help the poor and oppressed, but I don’t believe in the United States anymore. No more politics for me.

Eight years ago I was Barack Obama’s county coordinator, and we carried Indiana! Now, I just don’t have the time. Y’all do what you want. Spread your nuclear arms all over the world, I’m done. Pollute the air and water, make big money!

Demonize Jews and Muslims? No. I despise every last human on the face of the earth who voted for that.

The racism. The misogyny. The personality disorder!

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Los Angeles a few days ago. After the election in 2000, when the Supreme Court made George W. Bush president, I said “Not my Supreme Court.” Many people today say “Not my President.” I’m past all that; not my country. We’ve just declared political war on tens of millions of our fellow citizens, and I won’t be part of that. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

And the fundamentalists who ate it up like Post Toasties. I have to laugh at their faux Christianity. They’re such frauds, Jesus told us all about it. On some level, I finally find them comical. Better than demonic, I guess; they know not what they do.

Now this language may surprise you, so don’t take me the wrong way and I’ll try to be clear. Here’s what the election said to me as a religious person. I believe the United States is now under God’s judgment. We’ve avoided it for 250-odd years despite genocide and slavery, but this week da shit done hit da fan.

For me personally, I think the message is that I must not idolize the government I happen to live under, despite the nobility of its stated ideals. Jesus didn’t idolize the Roman Empire and we mustn’t deify our version of it either.

In the lectionary we’ve been reading a lot of prophecy lately, as opposed to history; that’s one way to tell that Advent’s coming. And with the OT prophets we also get the Divine Vision of John, that which shall be revealed. He writes vividly of the Fall of Babylon, and as we read those passages last week I couldn’t help thinking of the USA. The city’s biggest sin was greed, and that reminds me of us.

Trump isn’t going to restore jobs in coal country, Detroit or Gary or my hometown. The rich will get richer and the rest are just screwed.

That’s the way it’s always been, Christians know, but for a little while America seemed to promise otherwise.

I’m not hurting particularly for Gay people yet, but I want to mourn with African-Americans. And the disabled and Mexicans and refugees and teenage beauty queens who didn’t deserve to have a future president of Babylon walk into their changing room, because he owned the place and thought he owned them.

What is my mother going to say? That’s what I wonder. My grandparents were always nice to me; my mother’s going to be so ticked off.

She might even have voted for Hillary this time, and then complained about it constantly for four years. She wouldn’t have been able to stand the mention of That Man’s name in her presence. Diehard Republican, my Mom. She put Bruce Willis to shame.

She wouldn’t have recognized this idiot as a member of her party. She’d have been totally irate that she paid taxes while he didn’t. She was a capitalist; I am not.

I bet she started raking coals in hell when Trump insulted that Gold Star family because they’re Muslim. She’d spare the Muslims and throw Trump in once she got her fire going real good.

This all becomes so personal; here I am talking about my ancestors, and above I was talking about my friends.

God’s judgment is firm; I feel comfortable claiming this, that God does not permit without consequences the demonization of vast social groups by politicians, governments, churches or countries.

I think we’re under the judgment; and I think we’ve just witnessed the beginning of the Fall of Babylon. Does this sound extreme to you, alarmist?

If I’m right, other countries will take our place; China’s the most logical one. Way to go, Rust Belt!

This certainly is a time for robust Federalism on the West Coast. I’d think an American decline, if it happens, would hurt Silicon Valley and educated, innovative people everywhere. Discrimination costs money; inclusion makes money. We can’t have a scientist who would cure cancer shut out of school because she’s Black or Muslim or an immigrant. If that’s how we’re going to operate, other countries will pick up the slack, and so will their companies.

The idea of America depends on its living up to its ideals. If we don’t have those, we don’t have the overwhelming advantage they’ve given us.

I’m still weighing whether I have to give up newspapers now, to avoid the normalization of Trump as if he’s just the latest in a long line of presidents. I have no interest beyond the headlines in anything he says or does, much less the climate change denier he’s putting in charge of the Environmental Pollution Agency, or who’s the next secretary of Bombing the Middle East.

If somehow Trump turns out better than I expect, I will celebrate that – but there’s virtually no chance of it, considering that two days after he was elected to be world strongman, he went on Twitter to  denounce the demonstrations against him as the work of “professional protesters.” They’re mostly high school and college kids, but the first words out of his fingers were a lie!

He’s not going to change once he gets sworn in; his narcissism and disorganization will consume him. I spent years on the front lines in mental health; the last person you want in the White House is a personality disorder. Psychotic Nixon would make Trump look good. Next election, let’s restrict the franchise to psych nurses.

Trump has no core at the center of his personality; that’s why he’s so grandiose, to fill up the emptiness inside. The man has no friends; the day after he’s sworn in he’s going to say to himself, “Is that all there is to being president?”

Don’t blame me, I voted for Hillary, even though I don’t like or trust the witch. (I haven’t indulged my tempting Sanders fantasy; the fact is we’ll never know how he’d have matched up against this fool. Thank you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and assorted media scum.)

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San Diego, and dozens of other cities, marching against bigots and climate change deniers in the White House. (Sandy Huffaker/Reuters)

As for my congregation, I close with this: we’re right to make fun of churches with American flags in the sanctuary. We’re right not to worship America’s PR machine. There’s only one God and we must have no other before him, or even near him.

As I get older I’m really letting go of a lot of things, including some of my own shameful delusions; now it turns out I have to give up politics too as any kind of answer. Justice is rare in this world; injustice is more common.

Keep fighting injustice, never give in to it, but our fellow citizens have let us down, which is where the betrayal naturally comes from; the Founders warned us and countless others since. Now it’s happened, we are betrayed, and God has allowed this to happen (along with millions of non-voters).

Our special status as a nation is gone, at least to me. Instead, our help is in the Name of the Lord.

I’ll give Mother Mary the last word. Her song isn’t sweetness and light, it’s a curse and a cry of liberation.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever. Amen.++

Facebook & Twitter: Remember Your Loved Ones Here

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Some people donate flowers for the altar; given to the glory of God and in honor of, or memory of, their loved ones. That’s a great thing to do.

For a small donation The Daily Office offers a chance to remember them throughout the year. We pray for all our donors, and their intentions, every Sunday.

We invite our 3400 Facebook & Twitter followers to enter into a deeper relationship with us, beyond just Likes and Favorites. Twice a day, every day, we invite you to pray with us. Now, we invite you to enter into mission as well. We are an evangelical outreach of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, reaching thousands of people in 200 countries all over the world – in English and Spanish – with the Good News of God in Christ.

We reach the alienated, the isolated, the lonely, rich and poor, young and old, every race, gender, sexual orientation and church affiliation. We proudly welcome Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Orthodox – and unorthodox! Whether you have arthritis or tattoos, the love of God reaches everywhere, and that’s what this season is all about.

Every day we send out 6000 copies of Morning and Evening Prayer to our subscribers, and welcome another 1000 visits online. This equals 2.5 million prayers a year! Yet our budget is only $30,000. The prayers are free, but web services aren’t.

We know you like us; now will you help us? Please make a donation of any amount by clicking here. It’s the perfect gift for people who have everything – and the perfect remembrance for those who gave everything they had for you.

Thanks. God bless you always. Keep the faith.

Snoopy.Hug Them With Prayers

Proposed 2016 Budget

Fund Thermo 12.7.15

Dailyoffice.org
Proposed 2016 Budget

EXPENDITURES

Site Production Costs

Hardware (Contingency):
27-inch iMac 3.2 GHz, 1 TB memory      1800.
Video Production Equipment        200.

Web Services:
Webcasting        500.
WordPress storage, domain names        300.
Coding, maintenance and repairs        200.

TOTAL SITE PRODUCTION       3000.

Liturgy, Evangelism & Personnel Costs

Liturgy & Editing, East & West sites (Josh)    15,100.
Liturgy & Editing, Spanish site (Michael)      2,400.

TOTAL LITURGY, EVANGELISM & PERSONNEL    17,500.

Promotions

Diocesan Convention        500.

TOTAL PROMOTIONS        500.

Missions

Bor, Brasilia, ERD, Liberia, Lui, Mithon, Redbud      3500.

TOTAL MISSIONS      3500.

Annual Retreat

Van Rental (2)        300.
Materials        200.
Staffing      500.

TOTAL RETREAT       1000.

Debt

Debt Retirement, Josh Thomas       1000.
Unpaid Personnel       3000.

TOTAL DEBT       4000.

TOTAL EXPENDITURES    29,000.

INCOME

Fundraising     30,000.
Additional Non-Pledge Gifts       4000.
Diocese of Indianapolis       1000.
TOTAL INCOME    35,000.

Surplus or (Deficit)       6000.

November 15, 2015

Lunches & Lessons at Mithon School in Haiti, built in 2015 by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Many of these kids don't get enough food at home; these hot lunches enable them to learn. The Daily Office is a leading sponsor of this school. (Fr. Jean Michelin St. Louis)

Lunches & Lessons at Mithon School in Haiti, built in 2015 by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Many of these kids don’t get enough food at home; these hot lunches enable them to learn. The Daily Office is a leading sponsor of the school. (Fr. Jean Michelin St. Louis)

Diocese of Georgia Videos: Evangelism How-To’s – and How Nots!

Just released this week for their 194th diocesan convention. This first guy with the hot sauce is Bishop Benhase.

People do evangelism every day:

Some methods honor the other person’s humanity, beliefs and experience, and other methods don’t.

Tips for what works:

Kelly Steele got mad when somebody listened well and she didn’t have a good comeback:

So what are you evangelical about? What would make you comfortable about inviting someone to try your church?

The advantage I see to this wonderful series from Georgia is that it starts by acknowledging that we don’t want to do evangelism badly, like a lot of others do it – and then goes on to show that we shouldn’t be afraid of the word evangelism or the idea of it.

Have you ever eaten Cincinnati chili? It’s the best stuff!

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November 13, 2015

Gallery: Daily Office Retreat

We held our first Daily Office retreat August 20-23 at Waycross Camp and Conference Center in the Diocese of Indianapolis, where the Rt. Rev. Catherine M. Waynick is the Bishop; she also serves as our Episcopal Visitor. We enjoyed being there and the food was good!

Meme for Thursday morning's webcast, August 20, 2015.

Meme for Thursday morning’s webcast, August 20, 2015.

Amy Paget, our retreat facilitator, asked,

Amy Paget, our retreat facilitator, asked, “What are your hopes and dreams for this retreat?” Her cloud poster put us in mind of members who couldn’t attend. (Sister Julian, C.G.)

Amy came ready with a timeline marked with milestones for both our Office site and the wider church in the 20th century, then asked us to add some of our own personal faith events. Several of us wrote dates for marriages, births, went to seminary, etc.

Amy came ready with a timeline marked with milestones for both our Office site and the wider church in the 20th century, then asked us to add some of our own personal faith events. Several of us wrote dates for marriages, births, higher education, etc. Our first Daily Office website debuted 11 years ago, almost to the day; our first blog, which is today’s main site, premiered two years later. (Sister Julian)

Writing down our own faith events was one thing; reading everyone else's was another.

Writing down our own faith events was one thing; reading everyone else’s was another. (Sister Julian)

Maria & Sr. Julian working on their Living Compass questionnaires. (Linda G. Barry)

Maria & Sr. Julian working on their Living Compass self-evaluations. (Linda G. Barry)

There may have been some divorces on that timeline too, as well as jobs we've held that affected our faith.

There may have been some divorces on that timeline too, as well as jobs we’ve held that affected our faith. (Sister Julian)

Our timeline provoked conversation.

Our timeline provoked conversation between Scotty and Mother Gwen. (Sister Julian)

The sitting area off the lobby at Waycross was our favorite gathering place; we often used the internet there and participated in Friday morning's webcast.

The sitting area off the lobby at Waycross was our favorite gathering place; we often used the internet there and participated in Friday morning’s webcast. (Sister Julian)

Gwen, Scotty & Sr. Julian during the Morning Prayer webcast. (Linda)

Gwen, Scotty & Sr. Julian during the Morning Prayer webcast. (Linda)

David & Jerry during the webcast. (Linda)

David & Jerry during the webcast. Also the photographer’s finger. (Linda)

Joan tuning in; I'm not sure where this was. Several of us found we couldn't use our phones or e-mail, but others had less of a problem.

Joan tuning in next to the entrance to conference room A, the biggest at Waycross. Several of us found we couldn’t use our phones or e-mail, but others had less of a problem. (Sr. Julian)

Maria gathered us together to send get-well wishes to her Bishop, Wayne Smith of Missouri, who was undergoing a surgical procedure that day. He is a big believer in the Daily Office as a discipline, and as a postulant for ordination in his diocese, she was hoping this selfie would cheer him up. We heard later that it did!

Maria gathered us together to send get-well wishes to her Bishop, +Wayne Smith of Missouri, who was undergoing a surgical procedure that day. He is a big believer in the Daily Office as a discipline, and as a postulant for ordination in his diocese, Maria was hoping this selfie would cheer him up. He wrote her back and said it did!

An exhibit at Eva Moses Kor's CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, which some of us got visit; everyone got to watch the documentary of her visit to Auschwitz,

An exhibit at Eva Moses Kor’s CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, which some of us got to visit; everyone watched the documentary of her trip to Auschwitz, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele.” (Amy J. Paget)

Eva Kor on forgiveness. The museum, which she started on a shoestring with a focus on Mengele's infamous twins experiments, has gained considerable community support over the years, survived an arson fire that destroyed it, and been rebuilt better than ever. (Amy)

Eva Kor on forgiveness. The museum, which she started on a shoestring with a focus on Mengele’s infamous twins experiments, has gained considerable community support over the years, survived an arson fire that destroyed it, and been rebuilt better than ever. (Amy)

Maria with a GoPro video camera strapped to her head Friday night before our first-ever Eucharist. She only got a few seconds of video before the connection quit; Josh should have been manning his laptop to restart it, but he was more into worship mode than production. Mother Gwen celebrated, and after the visit to the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, the worship was both somber and exquisite. (Linda)

Maria with a GoPro video camera strapped to her head Friday night before our first-ever Eucharist. She only got a few seconds of video before the connection quit; Josh should have been manning his laptop to restart it, but he was more into worship mode than production. Mother Gwen celebrated, and after the visit to the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, the worship was both somber and exquisite. (Linda)

Building Anglican rosaries in our meeting room Saturday morning. Maria was a great teacher who came prepared with lots of different beads and crosses to choose from. It helps to have an experienced professor who knows how to lead a classroom. (Linda G. Barry)

Building Anglican rosaries in our meeting room Saturday morning. Maria was a great teacher who came prepared with lots of different beads and crosses to choose from. It helps to have an experienced teacher who knows how to lead a classroom. (Linda)

Josh was terrible at stringing beads and cussed for half an hour before he finally traded beads with tiny holes for others that were a little bigger. Mr. Pious he was not. (Linda)

Josh was terrible at stringing beads and cussed for half an hour before he finally traded beads with tiny holes for others that were a little bigger. Mr. Pious he was not, while next to him, Jerry was a one-man assembly line. (Linda)

Joan & Scotty beading away. (Linda)

Joan & Scotty beading away. (Linda)

Our finished rosaries. Some were taken home as gifts, but Josh ended up with an extra ten to send to members who write in with prayer requests. (Linda G. Barry)

Our finished rosaries. Some were taken home as gifts, but Josh ended up with an extra ten to send to members who write in with prayer requests. (Linda)

The director of Waycross, Van Beers, led us on a nature walk Saturday morning; Linda took this shot of Josh & Gwen.

The director of Waycross, Van Beers, led us on a nature walk Saturday morning; Linda took this shot of Josh & Gwen.

Waycross hosts a variety of events all year for the Diocese of Indianapolis and many other groups. Its summer camps for kids are well-known and the grounds are filled with fun things to do. When Maria came across this tree swing she couldn't wait to try it. (Linda)

Waycross hosts a variety of events all year for the Diocese of Indianapolis and many other groups. Its summer camps for kids are well-known and the grounds are filled with fun things to do. When Maria came across this tree swing she couldn’t wait to try it. (Linda)

A few feet away a more conventional swing set provided fun to Gwen and Scotty; Maria was the instigator. Scotty toughed out the whole weekend despite a severely broken arm that kept her in pain. (Linda)

A few feet away a conventional swing set provided fun to Gwen and Scotty; Maria was the instigator. Scotty toughed out the whole weekend despite a severely broken arm that kept her in pain. But that gave rise to our impromptu meme; whenever one of us said something weird, everyone else chimed in, “It’s the drugs!” (Linda)

David trying out his Flying Wallendas act on the rope course; fortunately it is low to the ground. (Linda)

David trying out his Flying Wallendas act on the rope course; fortunately it is low to the ground. (Linda)

Linda found this shale formation above the creek bed interesting and said,

Linda found this shale formation above the creek bed interesting and said, “We don’t have this back home.” She’s retired from the oil and gas business, and knows that shale formations often hold natural gas. Van explained that a very large formation of top quality Bedford limestone is located a few miles south of Waycross, and Josh, a native Hoosier, bragged that Bedford stone built the Empire State Building and the Lincoln Memorial. (Linda)

Close by the creek and play area is Waycross's indoor chapel, with its wall of windows to bring in the outdoors. (Linda)

Close by the creek and play area is Waycross’s indoor chapel, with its wall of windows to bring in the outdoors. (Linda)

 

Jerry was one of the readers for our Saturday night Eucharist. I'm not sure he understands to this day how important he is to us; he's soft-spoken but not a shrinking violet, with a depth of faith and experience that we love, but don't always tell him about. (Josh)

Jerry was one of the readers for our Saturday night Eucharist. I’m not sure he understands to this day how important he is to us; he’s soft-spoken but not a shrinking violet, with a depth of faith and experience that we love, but don’t always tell him about. (Josh)

 

Sr. Julian, CG, gave the homily Saturday night at Mass. (Josh)

Sr. Julian, CG, gave the homily Saturday night at Mass. It was good to see her in that role. (Josh)

 

We were quite pleased with Sr. Julian's sermon. She came prepared and looked comfortable. An important principle of our retreat was to draw on the leadership abilities of each person. (Josh)

We were quite pleased with Sr. Julian’s sermon. She came prepared and looked comfortable. An important principle of our retreat was to draw on the leadership abilities of each person. (Josh)

 

Just because we have three pictures of Sr. Julian preaching doesn't mean she went on at length! A homily is generally fairly brief, just one or two good thoughts well stated; the Eucharist is the main event. Sr. Julian came through just fine. (Josh)

Just because we have three pictures of Sr. Julian preaching doesn’t mean she went on at length! A homily is generally fairly brief, just one or two good thoughts well stated; the Eucharist is the main event. Sr. Julian came through just fine. (Josh)

 

At the offertory we placed our gifts on the makeshift altar: our handmade rosaries to give to others, some of our brother Tom's letters to his guardian angel, and "forgiveness" slips, with a few words about troubling acts by those who trespassed against us, which we were ready to reconcile and be done with. (Josh)

At the offertory we placed our gifts on the makeshift altar: our handmade rosaries to give to others; some of our brother Tom’s letters to his guardian angel; and “forgiveness” slips, with a few words about troubling acts by those who trespassed against us, which we were ready to reconcile and be done with. (Josh)

Mother Gwen leads the prayer of consecration during the Saturday night Eucharist, our second, as Sr. Julian looks on. The Holy Table is crowded with rosaries she blessed; letters by our webcaster Tom to Frank, his guardian angel; and notes of forgiveness and healing we wrote; later we burned those notes in the fire. Gwen's rainbow stole is knotted in remembrance of a same-sex couple whose wedding she solemnized earlier in the month, the first such wedding performed openly in her diocese. (Josh Thomas)

Mother Gwen leads the prayer of consecration during the Saturday night Eucharist, our second, as Sr. Julian looks on. The Holy Table is crowded with all our gifts; later we burned those forgiveness slips in the fire. Gwen’s rainbow stole is knotted in celebration of a same-sex couple whose wedding she solemnized earlier in the month, the first such wedding performed openly in her diocese. (Josh Thomas)

 

Burning our forgiveness slips. (Josh)

Burning our forgiveness slips. (Josh)

After Scotty instructed us in the fine points of roasting marshmallows for s'mores to a delicate golden brown, Maria grabbed one of those puppies, jammed it onto her stick and torched it. S'mores makers always divide into two camps like this, gourmands and gluttons. (Linda)

After Scotty instructed us in the finer points of roasting marshmallows for s’mores to a delicate golden brown, Maria grabbed one of those puppies, jammed it onto her stick and torched it. S’mores makers always divide into two camps like this, gourmands and gluttons. I’m with Maria, there’s nothing subtle about graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars. (Linda)

Scotty demonstrates how marshmallow roasting is done at Downton Abbey. (Josh Thomas)

Scotty demonstrates how the Dowager Countess roasts marshmallows at Downton Abbey. Gwen tries to follow protocol but singes her sugarballs anyway. (Josh)

 

S'more Gwen! (Josh)

S’more Gwen! (Josh)

Sunday morning we traveled a few miles to St. David's, Beanblossom for church; it sits at the corner of two state highways in the tiny village. (Diocesan photo)

Sunday morning we traveled a few miles to St. David’s, Beanblossom for church; it sits at the corner of two state highways in the tiny village. (Diocesan photo)

Sunday morning we traveled a few miles to worship at St. David's, Beanblossom with the Rev. Kelsey Hutto. Liturgy, music and preaching were all outstanding. Notice Joan hiding out in the back. (Sr. Julian)

After worship at St. David’s, Beanblossom with the Rev. Kelsey Hutto, also a member of our webcast group. Liturgy, music and preaching were all outstanding. Notice Joan hiding out in the back, while Josh was playing hooky in the garden. (Sr. Julian)

“Oh wait, be sure to get the dog in the picture!” (Sr. Julian)

After church was the mandatory coffee hour; St. David's has a lovely building and grounds, located at the corner of two state highways in the village. (Sr. Julian)

After church was the mandatory coffee hour; St. David’s has a lovely building and grounds, and the people showed us Hoosier hospitality. (Sr. Julian)

The Vicar’s Brain Is Made of Chinese Noodles

And he can’t get them untied!

ChineseNoodles

There are a lot of excellent things happening with the Daily Office. That’s the place to start this post.

But I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed by chaos, too, and boy, do I hate that. Like anyone, I tend to get immobilized when too much is happening at once.

The solution, of course, is order. First restore some peace and quiet, then take one issue at a time. If you’ve got a house full of screaming kids, separate them, send them to their rooms.

Unfortunately all the chaos is happening in my brain. So I’ll try to sort things out here. Start at the beginning; great things are happening.

This morning during our webcast, Clint called on Sister Hilary-Grace for the Lord’s Prayer – and out came a gorgeous original chant she wrote awhile back for her religious order, the Community of the Gospel. Twenty jaws dropped as we listened to her sing.

She’s pretty new to our webcast congregation, just a week or two, and in that time we have gotten an inkling that she has a lovely singing voice – but we didn’t know the half of it. What a joy it was to hear her this morning! When I posted the recording immediately afterward, I listed her chant as the number one reason to watch.

We’ve also been getting more and more new people the last few weeks – and oh, what a delight that is. Ever since I started posting a daily link to How We Webcast, more people have been giving us a try – and many of them are coming back on a regular basis. This is happening during the summer, when church attendance usually falls! If this keeps up, by autumn we’ll be having 30 or 40 people on a regular basis.

That makes me wonder if we should start up a second daily webcast at 7am for the East Coast; our current 9am ET/6am PT draws mostly people from the West. It wouldn’t cause much extra work or cost us any money, and there are a lot more Episcopalians on the Eastern Seaboard. We’re not serving them as well as we could; people want Morning Prayer early, before they go to work.

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Our Facebook group passed 3000 members over the 4th of July. (I always like it when the first digit changes.) That’s more than the Episcopal Dioceses of New York, Virginia, Chicago or Los Angeles. Our 3000 don’t all see our posts every day thanks to FB’s pesky algorithms, but we get daily Shares which extend our reach, more comments and Likes than we used to (which boost us in the rankings), and I’ve started changing up the introductions so we’re not always following a boring formula.

We’re growing on Twitter too; we post three times a day now, the standard links placed by WordPress and, after the webcast, a pithy quote plus a photo. We’ve got a long way to go to catch up to where we should be on Twitter, but I’m encouraged that we’re getting more followers, dialogues and favorites than before.

Then there was this.

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Today on Facebook, a friend tagged me with a link to an article on the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Practices blog, “Getting to Know the Daily Office.” Turns out we are mentioned, along with a priest’s introduction to the Office and another site that does something similar to us without our live congregation.

Read it here.

Last month The Living Church magazine did a similar piece mentioning us and other Office sites.

That Facebook link caused this comment from one of our regular Evening Prayer members:

“Josh Thomas and his team have, to put it simply, enriched the life of my family profoundly.

What a wonderful thing to say. I replied, “You can imagine what the Daily Office has done for me. God’s kindness and generosity are beyond anything a person can express.

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Our twice-daily posts, of course, are our bread and butter, and I’ve been really proud of some of them lately. We got a lot of response on the 4th of July, when secular holidays on a weekend are a terrible time for web traffic; people enjoyed all the artwork as well as the lessons and prayers. And every time we have an original theme we get good feedback. This morning we had a photo and lengthy (for us) story about Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who saved 669 children from the Holocaust. Every time I can tell Gospel stories from real life, people pay attention.

My next thing is adding more videos at night, especially longer ones that aren’t suitable in the daytime.

In each of these examples, I find that changing my thinking and getting away from formulas yields more growth. We have 2300 followers on WordPress now, as well as our daily traffic.

Should I start a daily podcast? What about more webcasts on other Christian topics? I’d like to get into internet radio at some point. There is a lot more we can do!

Meanwhile there’s the fusilli.

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We have a retreat coming up in six weeks, and I don’t feel on top of it. Many people are helping and I’m confident of the content, but I’ve run into problems I don’t know how to solve in our relationship with the Diocese of Indianapolis.

I’ve lost control of the content of our auxiliary sites, which means I can’t change the content whenever I want. I have to go through two or three other people. They take forever to fix things, and I’m getting stressed out over it.

I’m used to being able to change content quickly, as soon as events warrant or I get a new idea. I can still do that on our East and West sites, but our Support and Retreat pages are effectively owned by others. I can’t function this way. I’m an entrepreneur, I want to run my own shop; I don’t want to have to get permission from the corporate office, or wait on them (sometimes months) to implement the changes I deem necessary.

They’re doing us a big favor accounting-wise. But I had to wait six months to get all our donations ($3700, or 14% of our annual budget) that had been routed through them. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I e-mail or call; I think the problem has been solved, but it doesn’t stay solved. There is always someone else to consult, and it’s a small organization. The Bishop doesn’t have any extra staff, it’s not like there’s a bureaucracy to wrangle with; three-fourths of the battle is getting schedules aligned. It’s not their fault – but I experience them as a tremendous roadblock.

The latest thing is this: besides PayPal donations, I want to be able to start taking micro-donations by text message. But the diocese is wanting to get some kind of super-mechanism going that will benefit all diocesan ministries – which would mean waiting another six months or a year to get it all coordinated. Meanwhile we’re missing out on all the $5 hits we could be getting!

They’re good people providing us real services, but they exhaust me and I don’t know how to approach them. Organizations demand diplomacy; I’m no good at that. I don’t want to blow up at them, but I’m getting very frustrated; even the simplest changes seem to involve mass quantities of decision-making.

We were supposed to have a new landing page by Easter. It’s now seven weeks after Pentecost with no landing page in sight. At this rate it will be years before we take the next step, which we should have had five years ago – our own social network, so that we’re completely interactive.

I don’t code. I buy templates off the shelf, like WordPress. If I need code it might someday arrive on a slow boat from Istanbul. Meanwhile every 12 hours I’m posting new stuff!

So now I have to write a letter to Indy and see if, once more, I can get something straightened out.

I don’t know the answer. But these people are driving me nuts and I don’t have time to wait. A few years from now I’ll be dead, and Tony will still be coding my landing page. Enough already!

Lord, help me figure out how to get these people off the dime. And while you’re at it, please give me patience yesterday.

July 8, 2015

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Retreat Fees Announced: $400 Per Person, Double Occupancy, before June 30

We’ve set the final costs for our upcoming Daily Office Spiritual Retreat at Waycross in southern Indiana August 20-23, 2015, and they’re lower than expected!

Fees are $500 per person, double occupancy (single occupancy $600), with an early-bird discount of $100 for registrations and deposits received by June 30.

That means $400 for the most popular option, double occupancy, if you act soon.

Some scholarships are available; write to the Vicar at joshtom (at) mediacombb (dot) com.

Deposits ($250) are due with reservation, with final payment due August 1. Cancellations will be accepted and refunds made, minus a $50 cancellation fee, before June 30.

Watch for the registration form soon to appear on this site, including full particulars. Deposits can be paid through PayPal or by check to the Diocese of Indianapolis, marked Daily Office Retreat.

Take a look!++