Trumpocalpyse Now


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.


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!


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.)


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.++

A smaller crowd means a shorter service. Now let’s plan on a bigger crowd.


We just finished this morning’s Daily Office webcast, and Gwen remarked on its brevity. Attendance was only 14, including one visitor. Lower attendance than usual is what made it shorter, even though it was 2 minutes longer than it’s supposed to be.

But every day we get new people trying us out. The site itself is growing by leaps and bounds, especially because of Facebook and Twitter, and now I’m wondering what we’d do with twice as many people. We need to start expecting them.

Clint led a smooth service today, and even called on me to help read the psalm. I don’t usually read because I’m producing, and we want everyone else to participate as much as possible.

He and I have always worried a bit about how long the service runs. People are busy in the morning, whether they’re with us live or watching later; it’s very common that someone who’s joined us live has to leave before the end of the service, which is perfectly okay. We’re glad every time someone joins us for any portion of the service.

There are several ways to look at the question of service length. The first is that it takes however long it takes. So no apologies.

But the longer it runs, the less likely that someone will join us at all.

Of our 5000 followers, only 0.5% have ever attended a live webcast on any given day. We’re very glad, therefore, that we can record the service and make it available for streaming immediately. H/t Adobe Connect.

We know that a 9 a.m. start time is too late for the East, while a 5 a.m. service is too early for the West. This is a big continent, and no single time will work for everyone. If we had the staff to run four webcasts, starting each one at 7 or 8 a.m. per time zone, that would be ideal. But we don’t have the staff for that, and with only 25 people joining our “big” national webcast, trying to run four services per morning is impractical.

Having said that, I remain a bit frustrated that we run long every day. And my annoyance is compounded by my sad lack of diplomacy and tact, because I don’t feel I can say anything to speed us up without someone getting their feelings hurt.

If we had a 30 minute slot on radio or TV, the management would pull the plug on us at 28 or 29 so the next show could come on. I admit I’ve had fantasies of doing that at times. But this isn’t radio, so we do run on.

Then my frustration builds up until I feel like a diva about to have a tantrum.

Miss Ross, about to give a peon the what-for.

Miss Ross giving a peon the stare-down.

Any number of glitches can slow us down. When we first started webcasting, we spent weeks replaying that old cell phone commercial, Can you hear me now?

Time and technology finally solved that for the most part. Some newcomers actually arrive now knowing more or less how to turn on and mute their microphones. (Thank you, newbies!)

Others just show up, and no matter how hard we try, we may or may not be able to teach them how to participate. We lose a lot of people because they don’t know what a System Preference is. They get frustrated or embarrassed and leave. It breaks our hearts.

We ought to run sound checks on everyone every day before the service, but the regulars are so busy gabbing (including me) we never get to do that. So we end up with Marlene, who’s WAY TOO LOUD, and Pedro who’s …


Gabbing, of course, is half the fun. This isn’t radio, it’s church. Seeing each other is part of why we come.

Starting tomorrow I’m implementing two new policies: at 5 minutes before the hour, we do sound checks. The Officiant will announce it and start calling on people in alphabetical order to speak one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. After each one s/he’ll say, “Too loud, too soft, just right.”

We won’t catch latecomers this way, but it will greatly improve our quality. It will also be a reminder that we’re here for God first, each other second, and the public third – let’s not leave out the public, who are sitting there watching the playback and thinking, “Why don’t they make Pedro speak up?”

But the real issue is something else. (I’ve been working my way up to this, see.)

I never planned, when I first started, that we would spend any time on extemporaneous intercessions. I think it was actually Clint’s idea, and now I’m glad he did it, because it adds a lot to the service, knowing what’s on each person’s mind. Some people come specifically because they’re worried and need to speak their prayer before God and other people. We are glad for every prayer like that. Clint was right.

But when we first started saying individual prayers, I assumed each one would be very brief, like they are in church when the congregation is invited to add their own prayers. In church, people whisper, one on top of the other, and God hears every one. But we can’t do it that way, we’re all mic’d up, so we take turns. Otherwise it’s cacophony. We’ve learned to take turns.

Still, the more people, the more prayers and the longer the service. How do we balance this, when we start having 50 people someday?

Some of our members are very good about keeping their prayer short and sweet. It’s a skill, and they’re thoughtful about it. (You know who you are.)

Some people just let it spill out. That’s fine, we’re not judging the economy of your prayer. It may take you a few words of explanation so we know what you’re really praying about; go ahead, tell us so we can pray along.

But please, no orations from anyone. If someone is sick, just say their name and get it over with so we can move on. Please put the rest of it in the Chat box, once the Suspension period is done:

*Tonya has a new doctor, and she always hates it when she has to see someone new.*

By the way, Clint, that Suspension period (for prayers only, no chatter) is really excellent.

Reminder: do not violate anyone’s privacy. It’s easier to do than you think, even if you don’t say their last name. If you have friends in real time who know that you’re close to Kurt, they’ll know exactly who you mean with this (parody!) prayer: “Oh, Lord, Kurt’s come down with the clap again, so I pray that his penicillin shot will work…”

Say what?

Say what?

I’m also making a structural change in our liturgy starting immediately. Our video hymn will come before the final blessing, which will be pronounced by a priest or deacon if one is present, or by the Officiant.

This is a theological matter as well as a liturgical one. Since it’s my job to watch over both, the change starts now.

Our webcast recording will end with the liturgical blessing, and nothing further will be said. We should send people away with the blessing, and not more mindless yabble from us.

We’ll still bless each other as we depart, but that will take place among friends.++

Commission Proposes Deleting Some Saints, Adding Others

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church, is a faculty member at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. (CDSP photo)

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church, is a faculty member at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. (CDSP photo)

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church has proposed, in a report to the General Convention upcoming in July, that commemorations of the following saints be dropped:

Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burma, 1850
John Muir, Naturalist and Writer, 1914; and Hudson Stuck, Priest and Environmentalist, 1920
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Writer and Prophetic Witness, 1896
Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala and Ecumenist, 1931
Conrad Weiser, Witness to Peace and Reconciliation, 1760
Toribio de Mogrovejo, 1606 [retaining Martin de Porres, 1639, and Rosa de Lima, 1617, Witnesses to the Faith in South America]
Prudence Crandall, Teacher and Prophetic Witness, 1890
Nikolai Grundtvig, Bishop and Hymnwriter, 1872
Soren Kierkegaard, Teacher and Philosopher, 1855
William Carey, Missionary to India, 1834
Karl Barth, Pastor and Theologian, 1968
John Horden, Bishop and Missionary in Canada, 1893
Robert McDonald, Priest, 1913
William Lloyd Garrison, 1879 [retaining Maria Stewart, 1879, Prophetic Witness]
Lillian Trasher, Missionary in Egypt, 1961
Charlotte Diggs (Lottie) Moon, Missionary in China, 1912

I would hate to see most of them go – especially since they don’t propose getting rid of Sarah Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” or the utterly depraved theologian John Knox.

The Commission proposes adding these saints:

Gladys Aylward (1/3)
Amma Syncletica of Alexandria (1/5)
Caesaria of Arles (1/12)
Marcella (1/31)
Scholastica, Religious, 543 (2/10)
Katherine Drexel (4/3)
Mary of Egypt (4/3)
Kateri Tekakwitha (4/17)
Maria Gabriella Sagheddu (4/22)
Marie de l’Incarnation, Educator and Spiritual Teacher in New France, 1672 (4/30)
Helena, Protector of the Holy Places, 330 (5/21)
Olga of Kiev (7/11)
Bridget of Sweden, Founder of Bridgettine Order, 1373 (7/23)
Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (8/12)
Paula and Eustochium (9/28)
Mother Theodore (Anne-Therese) Guerin, Religious, Educator, Prophetic Witness, 1856 (10/3)
Elizabeth Fry, Prison Reformer, 1845 (10/12)
Catherine of Alexandria (11/5)
Elizabeth of the Trinity (11/8)
Gertrude the Great and Mechtilde of Hackeborn (11/16)
Dorothy Day (11/29)
Ella Baker (12/13)
Emily Ayckbowm, Founder of the Sisters of the Community of the Church, 1870
Kate Harwood Waller Barrett
Etheldred Berry
Mary McLeod Bethune
Louise De Koven Bowen, Hull House
Josephine Butler
Anna Bessant Cassey and Henrietta Lockwood
Rosa Judith Cisneros
Florence Converse
Ella Cara Deloria, Native American Poet and Writer
Helen Fuller
Ann Gream
Angelina and Sarah Grimke
Sister Margaret Hawk, Church Army, Native American Activist
Addie D. Waites Hunton
Satoko Kitahara
Susan Trevor Knapp, NY Training School for Deaconesses
Eva Lee Matthews and Beatrice Henderson
Victoria Earle Matthews, Author and Settlement House Worker, 1907
Eleanor Laura McMain
Harriet O’Brien Monsell
Maria Montessori
Anna Newell, St. Margaret’s House, Berkeley
Phoebe Palmer
Katherine Parr
Ellen Albertina Polyblank [Sister Albertina] & Elizabeth Ann Rogers [Sister Beatrice]
Richeldis of Faverches
Eleanor Roosevelt
Dorothy Sayers
Mary Kingsbury Simkovitch, Greenwich House, NYC
Therese of Lisieux
Adeline Blanchard Tyler
Ruth Elaine Younger (Mother Ruth, CHS)

I don’t know enough about most of them to have an opinion, but as a “Church Army man” I am well acquainted with Sr. Margaret Hawk. I would rather have her described as an Evangelist or Lay Minister than “Church Army,” which is not a title, or “Native American Activist,” which is obvious from her biography.

This Catherine Parr? One of Henry VIII's many wives? (attributed to Master John)

This Catherine Parr? One of Henry VIII’s many wives? (attributed to Master John)

You’ll notice that all the new names are women. The Commission says this proposal would mean women make up one-third of the new list – which is a worthy goal, although it also sounds almost like a quota system.

The Commission is right to point out that the “classic approach” to designating saints skews heavily toward the clergy, and since women have only been ordained in The Episcopal Church since 1974, that leaves 2000 years of female believers out.

On the other hand, the Commission itself reflects a clerical bias, as well as a penchant for grandiose naming, which makes TEC sound full of itself to anyone under the age of 90.

But to get to one-third women, they delete Karl Barth, Soren Kierkegaard, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison?

Others on the proposed hit list are saints recognized by other Churches and Communions, including St. Toribio, John Horden and Robert McDonald.

I've never thought of Eleanor Roosevelt as a saint, but at least she'd be someone we could talk about - unlike most of the others on this list.

I’ve never thought of Eleanor Roosevelt as a saint, but at least she’d be someone we could talk about – unlike most of the others on this list. (Speaking at the UN, 1947)

Let’s stipulate this: that the Commission is made up of good people trying to do a good job; that a case can be made for everyone on both the add and delete lists, whether I happen to like them or not; that any such list has political overtones, since Anglicans always need to balance their Protestant and Catholic constituencies; and that genuine sainthood is up to God, not up to us – so what we do when we collectively make such a list is, as the Commission rightly notes, telling “family stories” to each other, of which there are more stories than can be told.

The real problem here is too many Dead White Englishmen – worthies all, but not very meaningful to people today.

That’s what gives rise to the female quota. The Commission doesn’t have the guts to cut any DWEs, so it suggests we scrap some current newbies in favor of an all-women slate of newer newbies.

A Montessori class; well, maybe.

A Montessori class; well, maybe.

We really ought to ask, “Who among the saints make the best role models for today, in the United States, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and all the other nations where The Episcopal Church currently operates?”

As the Commission’s proposed new book, A Cloud of Witnesses, suggests, we’ve got plenty of role models to choose from. Who are the best ones for today?

The DWEs offer us a primer on Anglican church history, and yay for them. But they don’t help anyone live today. They should be taught in seminary, every last one of them, and in church history classes. Who helps us spread the Good Word today?

One obvious answer is the more recent the saint, the better. The closer to home, the better. The more like “me” and like us, the better.

We are becoming a browner church – so let’s X out St. Toribio? He campaigned against the enslavement of Latin American Indians!

St. Toribio: quick in, quick out.

St. Toribio: quick in, quick out.

Should we eliminate Harriet Beecher Stowe, the “little lady who caused our Civil War?” Why? That war freed our slaves, and no one can question that her motives were entirely Christian. Same with William Lloyd Garrison, even though he’s a Dead White Guy.

Where is Rosa Parks? How about Dorothy Haight, Fannie Lou Hamer, Viola Liuzzo and Coretta Scott King?

The Commission has a terrible job, and I thank them for their efforts. And yes, we’re all entitled to grouse if our favorites don’t make the list while someone else’s faves do. The right to boo comes with every paid admission to the ballpark.

But I’m afraid an all-female class will only provoke divisions, which we don’t need more of. It feels like one more needless insult, precisely because it fails to answer the question, “Who are the best saints for today?”

That question would no doubt yield a lot of women! I think we’d all want it to. Every woman in the Church, every girl coming up, every prospective member of either sex needs to see more women. After all, Frances Perkins won Lent Madness a year or two ago; there’s a definite market for more women role models in this Church.

I don’t think an all-female list, most of whom we’ve never heard of, is the way to go. Refining the question, “Who should be included and why?” is a better way.

Know this: our Daily Office sites will abide by whatever decision the General Convention makes.

But I do note that the Standing Commission in 2015 made no attempt to solicit the views of communities like ours, who live with the Calendar every day, or of any congregation that isn’t tied to the brick-and-mortar parochial system, online or in person. There are many “emerging church” congregations, but this clergy-dominated Commission has made no effort to engage any of them, beyond its commendably open invitation for anyone and everyone to comment.

They’re stuck in the past, and so is this list.++

Adding Mother Guerin just slays me. She was given RC sainthood just a few years ago after a janitor at her convent claimed a miraculous healing after he prayed to her. No joke, the guy's still alive and living in Indiana. (So much for the RC claim that they don't pray to saints.)

Adding Mother Guerin just slays me. She was given RC sainthood just a few years ago after a janitor at her convent claimed a miraculous healing when he prayed to her. No joke, the guy’s still alive and living in Indiana. (So much for the RC claim that they don’t pray to saints.)

Scholarships Help Make Retreat Affordable

The Daily Office has received three donations so far to defray the cost of attending our retreat this August in southern Indiana. Thank you, thoughtful contributors!

Donations are tax-deductible for U.S. citizens and will be kept anonymous. (We can use more, too.)

We are re-examining costs, $700 currently, to make sure we keep the retreat affordable. One possible target for cuts is the two side trips we currently have planned, which add $100 to the cost for bus transportation. I would hate to lose them – a trip to nearby Columbus, Indiana, which is world-famous for its modern architecture, including many churches, and a longer trip to Terre Haute to meet Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor and tour her CANDLES Museum, focusing on Josef Mengele’s infamous medical experiments on identical twins; Eva and her sister Miriam were two of his victims. Eva has the most remarkable insights on forgiveness that I’ve ever heard; but maybe we can show the documentary about her, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” instead.

ForgivingDrMengeleMrs. Kor is not a religious person; she came to a point where she had to forgive Mengele just so she could survive and not be imprisoned by the past. But hearing and watching her story, including the controversy her forgiveness generated, helped free me from the worst thing that ever happened to me, domestic violence at the hands of my father and enabler/mother, so I figured that a spiritual retreat that focuses in part on forgiveness could be really valuable to some people.

I forgave my parents on December 21, 2010, when I was 59, thanks to Eva Mozes Kor. I still have a sign on my wall reminding me about it, which has come in handy when more recent provocations have arisen.

As for the architecture, we can make that optional. The town is open on Sundays, of course, while the CANDLES Museum is not. I can head over to Columbus with anyone who wants to go when we’re done Sunday afternoon.

“Transformations” by Howard Meehan, on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, Columbus, Indiana. (

Why include the side trips at all? I wanted to let participants know that Indiana has more going for it than people expect, and since this is my home state, I wanted you to experience two unique offerings. But I don’t believe retreats should be expensive and I encourage anyone who would like to attend but thinks they can’t afford it to speak to me privately; my e-mail address is on every page of The Daily Office.

Our honorary deacon Clint Gilliland set the pattern for us when we started webcasting a year ago and found people really need to use a headset to participate. They only cost ten or twenty bucks, but what church would stop everyone at the door and say, “You can’t come in without these earphones”? So we decided that we would give headsets to anyone who can’t afford one; they’re paid for from our general fund. Jesus didn’t charge people when he fed the 5000 and neither do we. If you need a little help, speak to the Vicar – and don’t be offended if he speaks to you, not knowing your financial situation.

We don’t have our retreat leaders signed up yet, but tonight I contacted an experienced retreat leader in my parish, Amy J. Paget, and I’ve spoken to others about it; Deacon Lani is tentatively on board. I also want an experienced male leader but haven’t found one yet.

Once everything is settled we will open registrations – which is good because Waycross is wanting a deposit.

I close with this tip of the biretta to Steve Helmreich, who took me to Indiana Beach once and knows that…

Beach CrowI still have the coffee mug I bought that day; sometimes I sip from it while we’re reading Morning Prayer.++

A Word from the Rosebud Reservation: Wopila

Rosebud children at the annual Vacation Bible School conducted for the past 12 years by members of Christ Church, Bethany, Connecticut.

Rosebud kids enjoying the GLORY youth activity series with Mother Lauren. Those looks are priceless!

Josh, following is the message I sent to Bishop Catherine [Waynick of the Diocese of Indianapolis] a few minutes ago. I waited so I could tell her how the money was spent, and want you to know as well. Blessings!

Dear Bishop Catherine:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing today to thank you for your part in helping us here on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Last month, sent $400 to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West) to help our people here with heating propane and firewood. Your gift alone helped two families receive propane and three other families sufficient firewood to heat their homes.

We cannot thank you enough for the assistance. As you may know, the Rosebud Reservation is one of the poorest counties in the United States, with 87 percent unemployment, nearly 100 percent of our children receiving free breakfast and/or lunch at school, and more than 60 percent of all residents receiving aid of some kind from the federal government, the state, or the Sicangu Lakota Tribe. With few prospects for development, more crime than we want to admit, and a high incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction, life on the Rosebud can be very difficult. It is part of the mission of the Episcopal Church here to help as many people in need as possible. We can only do so through help from Dioceses such as yours, and from numerous friends throughout the United States who serve as Ministry Partners.

On behalf of the families who were helped by your Diocese’s generosity, we say Wopila (Lakota for “thank you from the heart”).

Blessings and peace,


The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley
Priest-in-Charge, Rosebud Mission West
Rosebud Reservation
P.O. Box 256
Mission, South Dakota, 57555-0256

Our Community Network Build Has Now Begun!

Lovely as this is, it is not a church.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris (Wikimedia)

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris (Wikimedia)

It is a dazzling building erected for the glory of God and the edification of persons.

This is a church.

Members of the Diocese of Chicago playing with members of the Diocese of Southeast México, 2013.

Members of the Diocese of Chicago playing with members of the Diocese of Southeast México, 2013.

You can “have church” anywhere. You can “be church” only with other people.

This, so far, is The Daily Office version of church:

Some of my favorite people: a screen grab after one of our webcasts last year. We get together online five mornings a week, plus Friday nights.

Some of my favorite people: a screen grab after one of our webcasts last year. We get together online five mornings a week, plus Friday nights.

Community is everything. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together, I am in the midst of them.”

I am not the vicar of a website, or three websites, or a Facebook group. I am the Vicar of 5000 followers, most of whom do not know each other, but do know that they are part of an intentional community, and value their connection.

To remedy the fact that few of us have met, we’re holding a retreat this August in southern Indiana. But for years I have worked to bring us together in more ways – and now at last it appears my dearest dream is about to come true.

I’m so excited I could run around in circles like the Verger!

Luke resting at my knee a few days after I got him; he runs around in circles every day when he knows we're going outside. I call him the Verger because he likes to tug on his leash and show me where to go.

Luke resting at my knee a few days after I got him; he runs around in circles every day when he knows we’re going outside. I call him the Verger because he likes to tug on his leash and show me where to go.

To promote community – people knowing each other, sharing their lives, and working together for holy purposes – I have long wanted to develop a social network. John M. came up with the idea for us years ago, and I have struggled ever since to make it happen – made phone calls to developers and coders and marketers, written e-mails, asked for grants, raised money – all to no avail, until now.

But as of Friday, the work has begun!

Here is the person who’s finally making it happen – in one fortuitous conversation, by hooking me up with a web professional she knows.

Former journalist and television news producer Kathy Copas of the Diocese of Indianapolis.

Former journalist and television news producer Kathy Copas, Communications and Evangelism Officer of the Diocese of Indianapolis.

We met in a private chat on Friday with Tony Schlisser of Pages & PCs in Louisville, Kentucky. Tony is IndyDio’s main computer whiz, responsible for 50 or more individual websites under the diocesan umbrella, including our donation page. Lately he’s been helping me develop a new, unified “landing page” for our three Daily Office sites (Americas, Asia-Pacific and Oficio Diario in Spanish). We are the Daily Office Network now, with a logo and everything. You’ve seen our logo; I should put it on this blog too, but I only now thought of it. Our logo’s gotten rave reviews.

daily office logo

In the course of developing this landing page, where all our sites will converge under the roof, I happened to mention on Friday what all this is leading toward, our own social network. Somehow this was the first Tony had heard of it – though I thought surely I had mentioned it before; I’ve been talking about it so long I think everyone I know has heard of it. But he hadn’t. And then…


He solved it in five seconds!

(Cue the rat terrier turning triple axels.)

Tony knew what Kathy and I didn’t, that WordPress, our bloghost, also offers a social networking application called BuddyPress. Thus one problem that’s stymied me repeatedly – what platform to use – he solved instantly.

What’s significant is that our current blogs must integrate seamlessly with the social network, so that you can go from one to the other with a simple click without ever leaving our site.

We’re not looking to do a churchy version of Facebook here, but to use the strengths of social networking to “be” the church.

The most fun part of our Morning Prayer webcasts happens after we pray; we move into our virtual Parish Hall, where we can see everyone’s face much better, and we chatter like magpies.


We have the beginnings of a timeline now for our long-awaited site makeover and expansion. We hope to have our new landing page debut on Easter Day. It will feature much bigger, widescreen art on the title page, with 3 buttons so you can choose which site you use for prayer; maybe we’ll use that photo above from Sainte-Chapelle so you can see it in all its glory. Every day I want you to see a photo or painting that gets you in the mood to enter into God’s presence. Every day when you come I want you to say, “Yes, this is the right place.”

Shortly after Easter Padre Mickey’s Oficio Diario site will be moving to WordPress; all three sites will have new URLs (probably subdomains of, including automatic forwarding so nobody has to change their bookmarks right away. And then, later in the summer we’ll open our new social network, which I haven’t named yet.

Dana Carvey on "SNL."

Dana Carvey on “SNL.”

I have gotten to know hundreds of you in the ten years since I founded our first site. You are great people, incredibly engaged with Jesus Christ and working hard to bring Good News to a hurting world. It’s time you met each other.

As I said, I don’t expect our social network to replace Facebook; after all, we have 2600 members there and dozens more arriving every week. But I hope, once you look us over, you’ll also join our network and make new friends for socializing, sharing, writing, linking, laughing, weeping, praying and working. It should also be a great place to let other people know what’s going on in your parish, diocese and neighborhood that may interest them.

My greatest hope is that we will use it for mission purposes. Publicize your concert, your trip to Haiti or South Sudan, your prison ministry, your health services. Spread the Good Word!

It will be essential that our core group of 5000 decide to join and make it work. So you can expect that we’ll be promoting it heavily. Here’s why.


When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, just one year after we launched our Daily Office site, thousands of people died, including Vera Briones Smith. Hundreds of churches were damaged or destroyed. Whole cities were ruined. I tried to compose a prayer that could begin to express our collective grief and loss and confusion.

And because our site is oriented in part toward praying about the events of the day – not just your personal piety, like other sites – we had a huge jump in traffic. People needed to pray, because we felt so helpless.

In the days afterward, thousands of Christians and other citizens from all walks of life rushed to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to help survivors rebuild their lives. Our site raised money for Episcopal Relief and Development.

And while the teevee focused so much on New Orleans, our members knew that Mississippi was devastated just as bad if not worse – because we showed pictures of churches, where the only thing left was the bell that used to hang in the steeple but then was sitting in the front yard. Ocean Springs, Pass Christian – we learned the names of these places – Pensacola, Bayou La Batre, Bay St. Louis, Metairie and more.

As recovery began, we showed that too – worship the following Sunday, with everyone gathered around the rubble and the bell.

We stayed on it for weeks, while our competition kept acting as if nothing happened. When the Bishop of Mississippi wrote a prayer, I took down mine and put up his.

Today, if we’re able to create a viable social network for Episcopalians and Friends, we’ll be much more able to respond to the next disaster.

That’s the kind of mission work I’m talking about – along with the everyday emergencies of war and peace, homelessness, hunger, ignorance, hatred, materialism, scapegoating, imprisonment, environmental degradation, racism, injustice and everything else that God abhors about human beings.

How God’s able to love us through all of this I’ll never understand. But then God is God, and I am not. Thank God!

Famine is spreading in South Sudan tonight. Episcopalians are going hungry along with 150,000 of their fellow citizens. I want us to get food to those people, along with celebrating every birth and birthday, graduation and new job, accomplishment and disappointment, illness and healing, life and death. That’s what a Christian social network can uniquely do, so that’s why I want one.

Our friend Deacon Letha used Facebook this weekend to publicize a concert at her church, Midway Baptist in Midway, Kentucky, a fundraiser for one of their frequent mission trips to Haiti. They raised $2100 while the town was covered in two feet of snow!!!

[UPDATE: Letha says that a Haitian couple, now living in Louisville, Ky., saw a notice about this concert on social media and drove 75 miles to little Midway so they could attend! A bit of virality started up, which is what social networks are so good at. That’s how the Church first got started, you know; Jesus went viral.]

It was a "Love/Haiti" thing last night at Midway Baptist Church in Kentucky. (Letha Tomes Drury on Facebook)

It was a “Love/Haiti” thing last night at Midway Baptist Church in Kentucky. (Letha Tomes Drury on Facebook)

The thing is, it’s easy for this kind of event to get lost in the vastness of Facebook, with all its celeb news, politics, hookups, advertising, gaming and cat videos. What a person gets out of Facebook depends entirely on who their friends are – and for everyone, those friends are a diverse group. I’m tired of fighting an insatiably greedy, privacy-crushing mega-corporation over the contents of my news feed. I don’t care that you just won at Crazy Birds, bought a tractor at FarmTown or found a clue at MurderMystery. I don’t want to see racy pictures of you and the person you’re dating. I’m not going to shop at my nearest Chick Fil-A, Pizza Rot or Walmart. And if I never see another racist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Obamacare, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant rant I will like that just fine!

Yes to pictures of the “grandcubs,” the books you’re reading, the songs you recommend, the food you cooked, the flowers you grew, your concert for Haiti – and double-yes to Tim’s 40-second video of one-year-old Jackson’s first steps.

Taking Jackson for a ride.

Taking Jackson for a ride.

I just figure that Christians have a need to hang out with each other sometimes, even if our conversation is less than pious. And the chance to do a little good isn’t something I want to pass up.

Get this – the Diocese of Indianapolis will host our network for free. Unlimited bandwidth and storage, Tony says; just tell him what I want and he’ll try to find a way.

Kathy Copas is worth her weight in frankincense!

So watch for all these changes, and if you can spare a prayer please give us one.

Thank you, Lord, for making me a home in the Diocese of Indianapolis.

Think of this: if our new social site works for Episkies, it will work for progressive Christians of all colors.++

The Daily Office Retreat Is a “Go”

This week we polled our members to determine interest in getting together for our first retreat, and now we have results: enough interest to move forward, experts to guide us in planning our program, a wonderful location in scenic Brown County, Indiana and tentative dates, Thursday through Sunday, August 20-23, 2015.

We even have a pledge for some scholarship money, because we want our retreat to be affordable.

The idea grew out of discussions we had with our Daily Office missioner, Dr. Maria L. Evans, a seminarian in the Diocese of Missouri. After 10 years and almost 3,000,000 hits, we’re happy to claim some 5000 faithful, fascinating people as our own in Christ. We want to meet them in person! This will be our first chance, in what we hope will become an annual event.

It will be held at Waycross, the camp and conference center of the Diocese of Indianapolis, located about halfway between Indy and Louisville, Kentucky.

The main building at Waycross features 37 hotel rooms, several meeting spaces, lounges, artwork, dining hall and a souvenir shop.

The main building at Waycross features 37 hotel rooms, several meeting spaces, lounges, artwork, dining hall and a souvenir shop.

Brown County, Indiana is one of the top travel destinations in the Midwest, thanks to its beautiful landscape, which in the early 20th century attracted the Impressionist painter T.C. Steele, who built a cabin and painted many scenes. Other artists followed and an Indiana School of painting developed, known as the Hoosier Group.

Brown County is still rustic and rural; slow down around the hairpin curves, because you may find yourself hard upon a Mennonite buggy. Nashville, the county seat, is the only organized town, with a population of 900. There are 19 art galleries and studios; bluegrass legend Bill Monroe’s annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival runs for 8 days in June and is located just a few miles away, not far from St. David’s Episcopal Church.


Midwest Living magazine offers this 60-second video tour:

While Waycross and Brown County are attractions in themselves, the real reason for attending is the chance to meet other people with a deep commitment to God in prayer. Though I hesitate to call them “good Christians,” because we’re all sinners and at best are only doing what Christians ought to do, I believe very strongly that the daily habit of prayer makes a big difference in our lives. These are people who know, better than I do, that when we pray the Daily Office, twice a day for 30 days, we’re bound to get closer to God – not because of any merit of our own, but because God is generous in allowing us to get to know him. The Holy Spirit uses the time we give to bring us closer to herself; and the more we know her, the more we trust her and are able to follow where she leads.

What we want to accomplish on our retreat is to develop our prayer lives beyond our current practices. Thus we want to offer instruction and practice using other methods besides the Daily Office, including meditation, centering prayer and the work of our hands. Though we’ll have some spiritual experts to guide us, the main teachers we’ll find are each other. That is what we’ve found this past year with our core group of webcasters – but it surely is equally true of the 5000 other people who follow our sites. We’re not holier than anyone else, but having taken on this discipline and applied it daily, we maybe find it a little easier to conform our lives to God’s will.

Constant prayer reduces our resistance to God. We mortals always resist, we can’t help it; partly out of selfishness and ignorance, but also out of fear. What happens to those who have a spiritual discipline is that God greatly reduces our fear.

For instance, I used to be afraid that giving myself wholly to God would mean that “I” would cease to exist as a separate being. I was afraid that God was like a spiritual vampire waiting to consume me. But it isn’t so; God is the opposite of a zombie, and I’ve become more like myself, not less.

Now multiply my paltry insight times 25 people and you might have a weekend worth coming to!

It’s six months away, but already I’m getting excited. We’re going to Waycross. We’re going to meet each other!++

Annual Meeting Approves Tithe for Mission Work, New Logo

Annual Mtg View Here

Click here:

(UPDATE: Some graphics displayed during our webcast may not be visible in the recording.)

Gwen moved and Clint seconded that we devote $2000, or 10% of our annual budget, to Episcopal churches in these places:

• Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission, South Dakota
• Episcopal Diocese of Bor, South Sudan – famine relief
• Episcopal Diocese of Lui, South Sudan
• Rosebud Episcopal Mission, South Dakota – emergency heating assistance
• St. Andre’s School, Mithon, Haiti – student lunches

It isn’t much but it gets us started in mission work – and we couldn’t do it without the generous support of our members. Thank you.

We chose these recipients because they offer us the chance to engage in mutual ministry; we expect to benefit as much as they do. “Church” is a community, and communities are built of relationships. We’ve already heard from the priests at Rosebud and Mithon, and communications channels are well-established with all five.

Our other big news is internal to us, our new logo. We operate several associated websites – prayer sites in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Spanish language, as well as our Facebook group, Twitter followers, the Progressive Church News and even this blog – and now they’ll all be labeled the same:

daily office logo

Hope you like it. And stay tuned, we’ve got more plans up our sleeves.++

Announcing “The Progressive Church News” on

We now have a presence on, a news aggregator customized for us, and I suddenly understand the value of it. We’re calling it Progressive Church News.

It features a prominent link to our site, but you already know about The Daily Office, so what makes this new thing worth your while? It contains a lot more than just our stuff, newsy things from around the Church and the world that you may not see otherwise.

What does is to pull links from our Twitter feed and give them more prominence. You’ll see stories from church and society, in the U.S. and around the world. Check it out here.

The current edition (it updates twice a day, morning and evening – get it?) contains stories from Chris Hayes, several Episcopal seminaries, Mother Jones magazine, HuffPo, The New York Times, Trinity Wall Street, Episcopal Migration Ministries and more – photos, videos and news. And none of that “I’m sipping latte at Starbucks” or “I won a pig at Farmerama” trivia.

The folks at have figured out how to add value to Twitter, by expanding the links placed by others; the key to it is who and what we follow. I don’t use our Twitter account for personal friends, only for Daily Office purposes, so we get a feed of what’s worth knowing around the Church and the world, from street ministries to major institutions, Episcopal and otherwise. Here’s a screen grab:

Prog Church News

It’s laid out like a newspaper site, thus the name. And since we follow clergy, dioceses, lay leaders and various news outlets – from Diana Butler Bass to the Diocese of Mississippi – we get a more complete look at the Church and the world than we would otherwise.

I came up with a slogan for Progressive Church News, too – Things to Know & Pray About.

I hope you’ll check it out and consider subscribing. We are always looking to expand our reach and usefulness, and this is looking like a cool new thing.

As you know, we work hard at all this. Why?

(The Daily Office)

(The Daily Office)

Our Advent “Ember Day” Letter to the Bishop: Late but Newsy

Right Reverend Ma’am:

This is the Advent Ember Day letter from, late as usual. I’m happy to report that we have achieved nearly all our goals for 2014.

• We celebrated our 10th anniversary and 2,800,000th visitor.

• We completed our first year of live webcasts, a total of 313 daily services. Our live congregation has grown very close to each other; it makes all the difference to be able to see and hear each other. We incorporate new webcast members easily, too.

Average attendance remains small, only 15 per day, perhaps because it is held too late in the morning for the East Coast. That is something to examine in the future, because we have unlimited attendance capacity.

We also make the webcast recordings immediately available once the service is over, and though we do not get the most useful statistics from Adobe Connect, we know that our most popular services attract 2-3 times the number of live participants, or 30-45 per day. When our regular webcasters have to miss a service, they go back and watch it later – but so do others. That part of our congregation is invisible to us, but we reach out to them and bless them every single day.

We may be the only religious congregation anywhere doing daily webcasts like these.

We bought a parish register this fall, because our webcasts feel like real church services. I’ve quickly fallen in love with that book, which of course hasn’t changed formats since I was a teenaged acolyte in Lafayette.

• As of Advent 1 our Spanish language Office site, Oficio Diario, is operating smoothly under our banner and Padre Mickey Dresbach’s tutelage. However, we’ve had to let go of our local “vicar” in New Zealand. He did a great job for a month, and then decided it was too stressful, citing some church-related rejection he went through in 1969 when he was a kid. I guess such things happen sometimes, and all we can do is try to support the person.

Our strategy was provably right, though; that blog doubled its e-mail subscribers to 500+ in just one month – which may seem small, but that’s 350,000 services arriving in Inboxes per year.

• With your help, we launched a fundraising drive which has exceeded our modest goal of $18,000. Thank you!

• We produced our first introductory video, “How to Get Closer to God,” which is located here if you haven’t seen it:

It’s also posted on our About page. It’s not quite perfect, but we’re happy with it. I’m very proud of our members’ enthusiastic participation; 16 people had a hand in it, recording a few words of greeting and prayer, and I got my first experience in writing and production. Now if I could find a better editor than yours truly, we’d be in business.

I also completed a “Video Christmas Card” with art, music and no text, and now we have a Daily Office Channel on YouTube. This video started out as a learning project so I could familiarize myself with the editing software. I’ve decided there’s no longer any reason to lick stamps!

• We attended diocesan convention; I got to meet people I only knew online, as well as a very sharp Daughter of the King and many members of the Youth Steering Committee – one of whom described Waycross as “my favorite place on earth.”

• We have our first advertising materials, with the same graphic on a 9-foot vinyl banner and running at the top of all three websites. Kathy Copas has hooked me up with a logo designer, who expects to have the final version ready for inspection soon. I am delighted with all Kathy’s help.

• And through it all we have maintained a pastoral focus and an unwavering commitment to social justice.

Heading into 2015

This year I intend to concentrate on three areas of growth: producing more videos; beginning “remote” webcasts from the chapel at St. John’s, Lafayette; and our long-awaited site redesign.

I’ve written two video scripts, on evangelism methods and technology as an evangelical tool, and I’ve recorded some footage that I haven’t put together yet. Getting “Daily Office 101” completed turned out to be massively fun, but also a big drain on my time. So I gave myself the rest of December off and will take up those projects in the new year.

I also have plans to shoot video of a house church in Little Lake, Michigan, where one of our webcasters, the Rev. Gwen Hetler, is on the clergy team. Holy Innocents’ is a long-established smalltown church which a few years ago was asked by the late Bishop Jim Kelsey to move its building to the new diocesan camp and conference center nearby. After Bishop Kelsey was killed, the diocese went through turmoil and ended up selling the camp, with Little Lake’s church still sitting there. They lost their building but they didn’t close, and I think there’s a great faith-story in it.

Fr. Bradley in Lafayette has given me permission to webcast from the St. John’s chapel, if we can get their internet router problem solved. I think the longterm future of our webcasts probably depends on relocating to a visually richer setting – the opposite path from Little Lake’s. Once the novelty of new technology wears off, we’ll want to show something besides a few talking heads and a thousand-word liturgy printed in a PDF.

Webcasting is not a lot different from the FaceTime call you and I’ll be having in a few days; the webcast has more “callers” from more places, a few pictures and a recorded video at the end, but the rest is very similar to Skype. Spiritually our webcast is much more enriching than saying the Office by oneself, but it doesn’t begin to be as good as going to church, where we don’t just sit, read and recite, we also look around at the beautiful holy things; if there’s music it isn’t recorded, it’s live. As Episcopalians we believe God is revealed to us in our senses; our webcasts need to become more visual. Bradley and I will be getting together for lunch soon.

Site redesign: We are approaching the end of the useful life of our blogs as currently configured: free (or nearly so) and presented using a simple template. Blogs are built for words, not for images; “blog” is short for “weblog,” a written diary of thoughts, opinions and experiences. The Daily Office is always going to offer (and rely on) the written word, since that’s what the liturgy consists of, but we’ve nearly maxed out what WordPress can do at this level of inexpensive technology. But getting to the next level has always depended on having enough money to upgrade the visual presentation. Now, for the first time, we have the ability to do that because of our fundraising. Praise the Lord!

Kathy is going to put me in touch with some site designers she trusts. I’m not just talking about getting a new website; that’s a common enough activity, and as she points out, parishes can and do spend thousands of dollars on a new presentation and often end up with something that isn’t much better than they had before. What the Daily Office needs is both simple and revolutionary, at least within the Church. We need to move in the same direction as some other media companies are starting to do: widescreen dramatic visuals that illustrate our words.

We don’t need flash; we don’t need “ease of navigation,” although we’re going to have that too. The first thing I want – and it will be simple to do, even if some complicated coding is involved – is to wow people with the beauty of the Lord from the moment they land on our site.

From there they’ll have only a few choices to navigate. But I want them with us the minute they walk through our door.

We exist to provide a prayer service; an experience of the Holy One. That is a simple remit. If we can learn to do that well, we’ve done our job and will grow inevitably because of it.

Every single day we must be visually stunning – but do it quietly, because God is not a shouter.

Our “landing page” will consist of a single, gorgeous photograph, painting or sculpture. We’ll put our name in the upper left and offer a few little buttons: Western Hemisphere, Spanish, Asia-Pacific. Nothing else.

You wanna pray, or just find God? It starts the minute you land. One day a Botticelli, one day a NASA photo from space, one day Canterbury or the annual Vigil for the Homeless at Christ Church Cathedral, Monument Circle.

“Bring Back Our Girls.”
“Here Lies Vera.”
“Black Lives Matter.”
Children evacuated from Peshawar.
The new St. André’s School in Mithon.
Libby Lane, the new Bishop of Stockport.
Or the faith, joy and courage of refugees in the Diocese of Bor.

I want the person who lands on our homepage to say, “Yup, this is the right place.” Then they’ll choose a button and begin to pray.

Once we’ve got that landing page we’ll add our social media site with all its possibilities for interaction, ideas, mission plans and just fun.

I believe, based on certain shivers surrounding my body a couple of days ago, that this is where God wants the Daily Office to go. So 2015 is the year and this is where we will go.

Personal Check-In

My best personal news this past year away from our sites happened at the St. John’s/LUM Food Pantry in Lafayette; I discovered the joys of mission work, and I’m already hooked for life.

They started opening up on Saturdays this summer, to offer weekend hours and to take advantage of unsold merchandise at the farmers’ market just down the street. I got to volunteer almost every week and had a blast. The people are a lot of fun – the staff, yes, but especially the customers. I loved them and they loved me back.

Now I know why our Missioner, Dr. Maria L. Evans of the Diocese of Missouri, is forever gallivanting off to foreign parts – Niobrara, Haiti, the Diocese of Lui, or just driving her pickup to the local supermarket and challenging the whole town to Fill Up The Ford with food donations.

We often speak these days about Christ’s “preferential option for the poor.” That’s theological talk for something really basic: Jesus just enjoys them, even as he understands exactly how they came to be where they are.

Whether they’re happy, sad, hurting, angry, sick, confused or afraid, they don’t try to be someone they’re not. They let me see them as they really are, with all their needs, joys, strengths and weaknesses. They wear their humanity on their sleeves, and all I have to do is recognize them, be present and real back with them. They’re more tolerant of other people, and more willing to take in information they didn’t have before. They like to make friends; every Saturday when I arrive at the church I don’t go inside until I’ve said hello to everyone waiting outside for us to get this show on the road. We recognize each other now, we joke around, I talk to the kids and the old folks, I make sure everybody gets some face time; then I go inside and help us get organized.

The payoff isn’t just when they leave with groceries and say profuse and heartfelt thanks; it’s that they recognize my humanity too. So we have a great time, and the next week I can’t wait to see them again. Sure, we count the number of families and individuals served, and think about the people who will eat whom we do not see; they’re who we’re in business for. But the real impact on me is the customers’ faces and the echo of their voices as I drive home. If I manage to say one thing that honors their dignity, that becomes the currency we exchange; the old disabled veteran, the bright immigrant child who can translate English into Hindi for his mother, the middle-aged man who worked all his life until the company closed, the younger guy with mental illness trying to keep it together amidst all the stimulation. Give them just one moment where we’re equals, and they’ll be your friend for life.

I wouldn’t miss it; I’m already a food pantry lifer.

So the next time you ask me what I do for fun, it’s that; I hang out with poor people, we have a great time together. I may be the one handing out the food, but they’re the ones handing out the love.

Why did I get those shivers a day or two ago? I think it’s because what all this is leading to is mission. That is a joyful thing, despite the overwhelming sorrows of this life. We’re in this together and for the most part, “the kids are all right.”