Sunday, November 27, 2005


or What Some Folks Do on Sunday Morning

My Dad came to visit Karen and I last weekend. He has wanted for a while now to come down and see some "Real American Football," so we got tickets to see both The Big Game on Saturday and the 49ers game on Sunday. And yes, we did see some Real American Football.

The games were great fun to watch, but what was even more fun for me, an inveterate people-watcher and eavesdropper, was the human drama. I learned that Real American Football is certainly about football. But it is about more than this, too. It is about friends, food, beer, and love of country. This was true at both games.

But when we got to Monster Park on Sunday for the 49ers game, I wasn't at church, but Sunday was on my mind. Why are people here and not church?

The answer is easy. Church is religion. But football is life.

For me, Karen, and my Dad, we were having a fun day at the ballpark. But the superfans had been at the parck since 8:30am. They were celebrating in tail-gate setups that had nicer furniture than some of my old apartments. One tailgate had a bigger bar than any place I've ever lived in. And the fans were friendly, too. When we mentioned that we were from Canada, we were welcomed with sausage and cookies.

There was even a liturgical sensibility to the whole event. How could I say that most people don't like a nice procession, after now having seen a home-crowd go crazy with their home-team running onto their field? We even heard a decent "sermon" by Steve Young after he was presented with his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at half-time, on the greatness of being a Bay Area boy and playing for the 49ers. Chills were had by most, I imagine.

This brings me to the picture above: Godzilla in a 49ers shirt, and the mascot of the first tailgate party we crashed. I kid you not, they called the mascot "Godzero."

I hesitate to think too long about what exactly that implies. You be the judge.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dead Tired

Don't worry, I'm not quite dead. I only feel that way most of the time. And dead men, whether they've lost a heartbeat or are just dead tired, don't post.

The lack of posting has not been because I am at a loss for material. As I approach the end of my first unit of CPE, and I look forward to the next three, I have been thinking back to all the encounters I have had through these weeks. Some of them are tattooed onto my memory, and would have made for some good postings here at Baby Priest.

I remember visiting a patient with electronics buried in his brain, connecting wires to a machine that was monitoring his brain activity. He was jacked in like Neo in the Matrix. I secretly wondered what Morpheus he was kung-fu fighting. Would he bend the rules and beat his enemy? Could he make his impossible jump? I never found out. I only visited him once.

I remember a twelve-year-old boy whose seven-year-old brother had just been hit by a van and pinned under it. The mom told me that, just as they were leaving for the hospital, the older brother had asked her to wait while he ran into the house to get his Bible – a hand-me-down, Good Will special with a stranger's name embossed on the front. When I met him he was carrying his Bible in the clear plastic bag in which the hospital staff had put his brother's bloody sneakers. He wouldn't speak a word, but I paced the halls with him anyway.

I've prayed with a mother whose three-year-old baby had been run over and killed by her fifteen-year-old son. The first thing she asked me, as she knelt on the floor, was why Jesus had taken her baby away. Her husband, and the father of both children, didn't make it into the hospital because the death was a coroner's case and there were cops in the ER. Dad had an outstanding warrant, and knew if he came in he would be taken away. The last I saw the family they were waiting on a dark corner away from the hospital, waiting for Dad to pick them up.

I've been in rooms with lonely people, dying people, and dead people.

And I'm dead tired, but it hasn't been because of the major trauma cases. I'm tired because of the simple visits, the cold-calls during my regular rotation through my units. What is killing me is entering the rooms of those who are not expecting a visit. They are the briefest and simplest of all visits. They are often forgettable visits, a simple conversation and a simple prayer. There is nothing all that hard about them. But they are killing me for a reason I don't understand yet. All I know is that it takes all my energy just to cross through that door. I wish I could bend the rules in my favor, keep quiet and cling to the text given to me, or even escape this place.

But none of these are possible. The rules are strict, I am called to prayer in an ever-new and changing world, and I will remain here in the hospital for a while yet.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Multiple Geographic Personality Disorder

I received an unexpected package in the mail yesterday. It added another feature to what is a confused and confusing part of my life here in California, USA. Confusing? How's that, you say? Give me a minute, and allow me to confuse you.

According to the U.S. government, I am a non-resident alien because of my visa status. This has always seemed a little odd. I do, after all, live here, don't I? I buy groceries, cook my food, and even sleep here. But, technically, I am a non-resident. I think this means that they expect me to go back to where I came from, real soon.

But the government of the state of California, however, is quite clear that I live here, at least for the purpose of driving. My truck needs to have California plates and insurance, and I need to have a California driver's license, if I have been residing (or living) with a California address for more than a few weeks.

Does this make me a Canadian, but not an American, but also a Californian?

According to the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church USA, because my bishop is the bishop of Rupert's Land I am therefore canonically resident in the Diocese of Rupert's Land, despite the fact that I think I live in Davis, California. I am, however, licensed by the bishop of Northern California to preside here. So I act like a priest in California, but without the benefits, like pension or health insurance. This is the same in Canada – I am a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, but because I don't reside in Canada . . . wait . . . because I don't *live* in Canada, I don't qualify for any benefits there, either. All this despite the fact that I have the distinguished privilege of being under the authority of two bishops!

So, I'm both an Anglican priest and an Episcopal priest, but without the full benefits of being either one.

So, that package I got in the mail yesterday? It came from the Vital Statistics Agency of the Government of Manitoba. It included a "Certificate of Registration to Solemnize Marriages," complete with a how-to manual called "Clergy Guide for Registering Marriages." I am now an agent of the government of the Province of Manitoba, despite the fact that I don't live there, I only reside there. I think.

So, I guess I live here, but I reside there. No wait – I don't live here, I just drive here. Or is it that I don't live here, or there, I just marry people there?


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Are You a Mac Fan Who Got Some Religion?

Then here is the perfect purchase. Or maybe you could pre-install this, give it away, and become the first hi-tech Gideon.

Image and first two links via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.