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March 16, 2008


"I became more convinced than ever that asking for guidance or opening myself to higher possibilities, without preconceived expectations, was far more fruitful than praying to an omnipotent God for specific acts, but I also felt more alone than I ever had, and that absence included the God I might have once believed in and who still seemed to be presented by the church i had known since childhood."

I just finished reading your book "Going to Heaven..." and found myself wondering as much about the writer of such a book as the subject you covered. It was engrossing and moving for me to learn so much about the process of the church in which I was confirmed (36 years ago yesterday) and how much I identified with your introduction to the book.

I have had very little to do with the church since I was 17 and was actually a part of a pilot program in my diocesse to be part of a Mission Team to research failing Parishes. I was with two Seminarians (male of course) and another woman who was getting a teaching degree from another Seminary. I remember calling on a woman who hadn't attended church in many years. My "job" was to ask her why she had stopped attending the church. She must have been younger than I am now and with much bitterness she told me that when she became divorced some years earlier, she was denied communion. I suddently felt brash and ill-equipped for the work I'd been assigned and at the same time, empathetic. She knew a good deal more about the church than I did and it did seem presumptuous of to me to be asking these questions. I think I urged her to give it a try again--things had changed...

During my young adulthood, I became involved with an Athiest who's arguments against God were mighty persuasive; but, there was always a flicker of, "But, what if the story IS true?" In the meantime, my brother became an Episcopal Priest, my sister headed the music ministry in her church and my mother migrated into a very "High" Anglico-Catholic expression of the church. (we were all raised low church). My mother was born into Episcopalianism. My father was confirmed the same day that I was. And they were both active on the Evangelism Commission for our New England Diocesse until my father died when I was 20.

Somewhere along the way, I did read the Gospels on my own and I just couldn't reconcile, the institution of the church with the words and actions of Jesus; so, I limited my participation to supporting family events which involved church.

As my mother became more immersed in her church and my brother supportive of the Election of Bishop Robinson, they became more and more polarized. And the growing pains of the Church became the battleground where our family was actually thrashing out a much deeper and more personal source of pain and anguish having nothing whatsoever to do with the church. At one point my brother's parish hired for his assistant a Lesbian living in a committed relationship. My mother's parish was joining forces with some of the African Bishops and the other American churches you wrote of in your book. I happen to agree with my brother's expression of Christianity. He did his best not to engage; but, even the restrained silences were heavy with the debate.

Reading your book simply gave me hope. I can't even be sure what that means. But it did. The way you handled all the issues and conveyed Gene's story and the process of his election, was Grace at work. I don't know how anything will be reconcilled--either in my family or in the church; but, being willing "to leave off pre-conceived expectations" is the place to begin.

Like you, I have recently emigrated. I'm living in Ireland. I know nothing of the Church of Ireland except through the eyes of my Catholic husband and our mostly Catholic friends. However, the reason that I have read your book is because I have a friend from an anonymous fellowship, who upon realizing I was American and not Catholic sensed that I might be open to reading your book. I may be the only person to whom he's confided both his "Denomination and his being gay" and I am honored that he wanted me to read this book.

Like you, I have felt more alone here than ever; and, it isn't for lack of fellowship. I'm also finding the aloneness to be Holy ground (whatever the heck that means)... Somehow, no matter where I am geographically, or internally, Holy week takes hold of me and I get swept up into the story, no matter how much I resist it or try to ignore it. I can say the same of the Nativity and Epiphany--because our little church enacted each of these stories every year of my childhood and young adulthood. Perhaps, it is the Grace of enactment that has helped me to keep cradling that baby instead of throwing him out with the bath water. And, although, I may know how the story ends, as I remain present to the re-enactment, I havn't a clue where it will take me this time. And although we are strangers, I will think of you along the road this week and imagine you among the crowd and at the foot of the cross and at the empty tomb. Peace and thank you.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.