The Rich Man and Lazarus

29 09 2007

Text: Luke 16:19-31; Amos 6:1-7;

We have entered into another gilded age here in the United States. If you want proof of that, we only have to look as far as the Fortune 400 list which once again for the second year in a row shows that the wealthiest people in America are all billionaires. My current job as an executive assistant at an investment bank allows me to peek in to this world of the rich and powerful. Over the years, I have to come notice that the sense of noblesse-oblige is missing. Noblesse-oblige is a sense of duty of the upper class that instills within them an obligation to lift up not as fortunate (which today includes millionaires!) and grant the ordinary citizen with access to things they normally wouldn’t have (such as art, music, a fine education, and so on).

I know two of them men on this list personally. Both of them have amassed great wealth, travel in the stratosphere of social and political realms, but they could not be more different. One of them, who admittedly is 20 years the other’s senior and ranks considerably lower on the list says, “I now have more money than what I am able to do with, or what I can leave my children. So, I shall give it all away so that the rest of the world can reap from the benefit of my hard work.” The other man who ranks much higher says, “there is no such thing as too much money. I will take my company public and literally sell myself to gain a profit. Amassing more and more wealth and living in more and more luxury is what matters. I .. got … mine.” These two men, of similar stature in the eyes of the world, could not be more different in their outlook on life.

Today’s Gospel passage is a parable about two men whose lives are even more strikingly different. One of the men is unnamed, and he is very, very wealthy. If Palestine had a “Forbes 400” list, he most certainly would have been on it. He lived in luxury and excess. If he lived in the time of the prophet Amos, I am sure that Amos would have included him in his words preaching against the self indulgence of the wealthy. Such self-indulgence and conspicuous consumption can eventually lead to complacency. These type of folks live in a bubble where they become de-sensitized to the things that happen outside of their social sphere. This is evident in how he was able to ignore Lazarus, the beggar outside his gates, and the other main figure in the parable. It wasn’t as if the rich man didn’t want to help Lazarus, it was just as if he wasn’t worth the trouble. After all, he just would come back and ask for more, wouldn’t he?

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A new blog and a new friend

29 09 2007

If you haven’t met him yet, please step over to the Doorman-Priest, another gentleman on the road for ordination, this time in the Lutheran Church in the UK.  I have been very pleased to make his acquaintance, and i hope that his blog blesses you as much as it has already blessed me.  We met by way of the Mad Priest, and any friend of the Mad Priest is a friend of mine!

Also, my very good friend Marshall Montgomery of the blog Communion in Conflict has asked started up a discussion blog on conflict in the church. It is called the Seminar of Conflict Ecclesiology. The hope is that it will form a discussion group for those on every side of the aisle in the Anglican/Episcopalian world and to foster a community of inquiry centered on the theses of Conflict Ecclesiology. While I am not fit to turn the pages of the books of the mind belonging to the likes of Marshall or the others he has invited to spread the word (such as Tobias Haller and Kendall Harmon), I am flattered I was on the “A-list” of invitees to spread the word about this forum. Please pay him a visit.

Giving it up for good — cigarettes, that is.

27 09 2007

I have smoked cigarettes off and on (mostly on) since I was 19 years old. Why now? Why today? I am tired of it, mostly. And it’s expensive. And all sorts of other reasons.

I’ve tried before (the Personal Atheist and Sista Girl know how many times I’ve tried). But this time, i’m not trying.

I’m done.

I’m just glad i never smoked in my apartment so i don’t have to come home to the smell or have it in my clothes.

The Gay in the Pew Award Goes To …

26 09 2007

My good friend Riot over at Couchstalker …. who offers i think the most realistic take on things that happened in New Orleans last weekend. Always refreshing to hear his point of view.

What Pastoral Responses to GLBTs?

26 09 2007

(What follows is an official Statement made with the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility….. )

Yesterday evening, I commented on the House of Bishops statement after it was read a few times and thought about it over a nice mandarin vodka and tonic at my favourite lounge. I believe that it represents honest and hard work on the part of everyone, and in many ways it was the best that could be hoped for.

Does it change anything? No. +Gene Robinson is still the bishop of New Hampshire, and will most likely attend Lambeth in some capacity. Incursions (I would say invasions) by foreign prelates are still happening. Blessings of Same-sex unions will still occur. And the bishops have recommitted themselves to providing appropriate pastoral response to gay men and lesbians.

Is there still a lot of work to do? YES

Particularly in the realm of Pastoral Response. Defining what form that might take would be good start. I would dare say that by and large The Episcopal Church has failed to honestly start giving real consideration to what pastoral care to gays and lesbians actually means.

We talk a great deal about providing pastoral care to homosexuals in the Church, but what exactly do we do? What about our young people? What about conservatives? What about those who were considering ex-gay camps? What about those who are recovering from those experiences? What about homosexuals who desire to be celibate? What about those who are conflicted in their affections towards those of the same gender? As much as we might with those 5 or 6 verses in Leviticus and Romans are not there, they are there. What does the church have to say to someone who reads that? “Oh you can just ignore that” doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid.

As a Church we have not done any serious theological work and made it available for discussion. I know that “To Set Our Hope On Christ” was published as a response to the Anglican Counsultative Council back in 2003, but unless you follow this kind of thing, you wouldn’t know what work has been done. We are not simply talking about a justice issue here, though that is a very significant part. It is about justice, but it is also about genuine pastoral provision and theological study.

Believe it or not, it is liberal evangelicals who have pioneered some of these things. Ralph Blair, founder of Evangelicals Concerned, is a wonderful and brilliant man. is an online community which spans the globe that has a lot to offer to young people seeking to be gay and Christian, often times where they are not welcome.

Perhaps we can take some of lessons from these grass-root organizations and apply them to what we do now? Affirmation and welcome are wonderful things, and they go a long way, but they are only a start.