December 2014

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 a word from our deacon...
 Diocesan Convention
 The Back Page... Thanks for the Peace

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

Last time I asked the question, “How would you define the following words: ‘religion,’ ‘Church,’ ‘Christianity’? I also provided an example of a definition from a Sociologist of Religion, Dr. Barbara Hargrove. This month, I would like to take a look at something from a professional in the area of the Psychology of Religion, H. Newton Malony. In his book The Psychology of Religion for Ministry (Integration Books, Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 1995), Dr. Malony’s definition work was a little more complicated to pin down. He had a main definition but he also made some other comments. We can start here: “model for religion proposed by the Swedish psychologist, Helmut Sunde n, led to an S(Stimulus)—O(Organism)—R(Response) formula for religious experience.”

What could that possibly mean? Malony takes it further. A “religious stimulus (S) is taken in, perceived, mulled over, experienced and thought about before it is responded to.” (p. 17) In other words, something religious happens to a person. That person does not have just a reflexive reaction to it, but takes it in and thinks about it. That’s where the O comes in, the O being the person (organism). There is then, Malony says, “a ‘response,’ not a ‘reaction’ – the term that is often applied to behavior that is instinctual or conventional.’” Not that some religious behavior does not look conventional or seem to be automatic and habitual; but most religious organizations actually expect people to internalize reli-gious experience and make decisions for themselves.

“Being religious is thereby reconceived in psychodramatic and operant-behavioral terms.” (page 9.) That is language that is usually called jargon; i.e. only people who use it will understand it, and thereby prove that they belong to the in-crowd. Most importantly for our use, note that Malony is here defining religious experience and being religious, rather than religion itself. This goes along with what interests him, as a psychologist, about religion.

He goes on to say “There are, indeed, ‘varieties’ of religious expe-rience, as the title of William James’ famous book indicates. Yet they all fit into a S(Stimulus)—O(Organism)—R(Response) formula, from a psychological point of view.” (page 15) Dr. Malony summarized it this way: “People have needs that faith in God meets. Saying it that way makes more sense to psychologists. They would agree with the definition of religion as ‘the way people deal with the mysteries, the enigmas, and the tragedies of life.’” So now, in a nutshell, we can understand the mysteri-ous SOR formula; this is what it boils down to.I offer these things to you, not in order to bewilder you or dazzle you with my ability to throw such terms around, but to raise awareness of how complicated our religious life – which does often feel to us “instinctual” or “habitual” – actually is when an outside observer starts thinking about it in terms of a professional discipline. It can be an eye-opening experience to encounter the depth of thought that goes into things that we often simply take for granted, and don’t ourselves inquire into in such depth. We are usually interested in religion in a different way than professionals are.

But notice that the psychologist here focuses on religion as it has meaning and function for the individual, whereas the sociologist focused on religion as it functions in a social sense; that is for people in community. Because of these different foci, the definition has to be different in order for the psychological perspective to be discussed. Elizabeth named this as the difference between “we are the Church” and “I am the Church.” These kinds of distinction should be a part of our thinking about our religious life, since we encounter our religion from different directions too, and that can seem contradictory and confusing.

Our history as Americans has been to amplify the individual as against the community. We talk about our rugged individualism, our de-sire for self-reliance. Our iconic figures as a culture include such people as the pioneers, the mountain men, the cowboys and drifters of the Old West. Our heroes have often been people who went against the crowd, people who relied on themselves, people who had some control of their own circumstances and destinies. Our history includes people during desperate times who, as a point of pride (and sometimes their last remaining point of pride), would refuse to accept charity. Charity, of course, carried with it the shame of having failed at self-reliance, having failed at the task of taking care of one’s family and personal needs without assistance.

Of course there have been heroes and icons who acted in communal ways and for communal purposes, especially among the military, where people have needed to rely on each other in order to accomplish their purposes. But the emphasis on individualism is unusually strong in America. One result has been that when we talk about such endeavors as religion, it is often not easy for us to see past the idea of religion being a salvation contract between ourselves and God. Think of such revival hymns and country gospel songs as “I come to the garden alone,” “Me and Jesus, we’ve got our own thing going” and “Turn your radio on, listen to the Master’s radio.” That is, we just sit and listen to the Master; we need Jesus; that doesn’t mean we need anyone else.

This interior view of the faith, the struggle within the mind and soul of the believer to find the right way to live, to be part of God’s kingdom, is the area of the psychologist, and it is easier for many of us to relate to that point of view than to relate to the point of view of the sociologist, for the reasons cited. What does the faith do for us as individuals, and what is the response that is asked of us? What personal obligations and duties do we take on, and what blessings and rewards result? What trials and dangers do we have to face as individuals, and how do we gain the strength to do so? Whatever our communal life, needs and functions, we all face them as individuals, and if you have studied existentialism, that is where that kind of focus comes from.

Last month I asked for you to let me know what you thought about how religion, or Christianity, or Church, ought to be defined or understood. I got one conversation out of that request, which was worth having – but I was, and am, hoping for more. I think we need a letters column, or a Q and A column. Please send in your thoughts. Do you identify with Dr. Hargrove’s perspective from last month, or does Dr. Malony’s perspective speak to you more? Do you have to make an intellectual shift to think about one of them after the other one? Can you combine them to make one compound definition? And what is your take on the definition of these words in your individual lives; which should flow from what it is about them that you find important.

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Why I Am An Episcopalian: Reason #31

The Book of Common Prayer allows a degree of uniformity in prayer while leaving room for the diversity of cultures, languages and liturgical styles. - The Very Rev. David Bollinger, Diocese of Central New York, from 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian

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Children and Youth Group News

Sunday School: Sunday School is every week for ages 4-18 during the 10am service. Children (grades pre-K through 5th) and youth (grades 6-12) are to meet in the Parish Hall at 10am. They will re-join their families during announcements for communion.

Teachers: If you are interested in joining our team, just talk with Teresa Ruff and she can add you to the schedule. Our teachers do just one Sunday a month.

We have child care! A huge thank-you to Amelia (one of the St. Andrew's Preschool teachers) who will be providing child care to children under 5 during the 10am service.

C.I.A. Youth Group Hosts All-Church Breakfast: First Sunday of the month. Youth will meet at 8:30am to set-up and start cooking. Breakfast will be served between 9:15am-10am. Donations accepted to help with food costs.

C.I.A. Youth Group
*Of note: There has been some question about the ages of this group. Due to the number of kids and their ages in our Parish, we have to make a few exceptions. We have a Junior Youth Group which will be grades 5th-8th, and a Senior Youth Group which will be grades 9th-12th. This allows more kids to get together for most of our events, and also allows for us to sepa-rate for certain events/discussions that are more age/maturity based.

Movie Day!
We will be screening the new movie Exodus on Sunday, December 14th, after the 10am service. Let Sharon or Teresa know if you would like to go so that we may purchase tickets. We will be discussing the film afterwards (compare and contrast to the story in the Bible). Of note, the film is rated PG-13.

Ski Trip Coming Soon
We will be going to Dodge Ridge and Camp Sylvester this year for our ski trip. We will be leaving after school on Friday, January 16th, and returning on Sunday night, January 18th. There is a $25 non-refundable fee to reserve your spot. A full price list will be available in December (ski tickets prices, food, ski rentals, snow play, etc.). Everyone will need to fill out permission slips. Details and discussions will be conducted at our weekly 10am meetings on Sundays. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sharon or Teresa.

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a word from our deacon...

I am writing this in Washington D.C. on Thanksgiving Day. In honor of the turkeys pardoned by President Obama over at his house on the other side of town, we are having a goose. Josh and Priscilla were up all hours last night preping for today. Priscilla got to go to bed earlier because she was finishing up the pies and Josh's job of messing with poultry is, well, messy. Cathe and I were down in the basement asleep.

My email box was full of feed-the-poor advocacy and “I'm thank-ful for ______” emails this morning. This is the time of year when it is popular to be generous and humble. Taking care of those “less fortunate” is perfectly fine – in the abstract. At the same time, there is a 90 year old chef down in Fort Lauderdale who was arrested for feeding the homeless in a local park. It seems that the city fathers down there think the solu-tion to homelessness is to restrict “public feeding”.

On the other hand, just last Saturday we celebrated the Kirking of the Tartans by making lots of noise and donating the proceeds to Valley Churches. Unlike the emails I've been getting, this sharing from our plenty at St. Andrew's is just one special occasion within our year long commitment to our neighbors. It is very good to remember to care for members of our community at special occasions. It is even better to remember that some of us are still hungry in August.

There is an American habit of making distinctions between the “deserving poor” and “those other people”. I would like us all to reflect on this “deserving poor” fetish (you only really hear it in the U.S.) during this time of celebration and eating.
Who are, in fact, “deserving” and where did this idea come from? The uncomfortable truth is that it came over on the Mayflower with the Calvinist Puritans. Their descendants may have mellowed out a bit (some of them at least) but one of the hot theological topics of the Calvinists of the day was the arbitrary choice by God of those who were the “elect”, aka “deserving”, and those who were not. We still do it, if for no other reason than we've been doing it, like, forever.

Many of us have CPAP machines because we're geezers and have sleep apnea. Medicare requires us to report to the Feds that we are using the machine regularly. Otherwise, we don't “deserve” to have Medicare pay for it. I have a ResMed S9 machine ($599 online at CPAP.com). Adding up the costs of the required annual check-up (1 doctor visit, business office staff time, Medicare billing, and staff at other agencies involved), we get about $400; then we multiply that by 5 (the # of years the machine is good for), it does not take long to exceed the cost of just giving it to me and saluting on the way out. We do this to make sure that I “deserve” this service, that I use it gratefully or ???. Someone in Congress felt the need to spend $10 to see if I really needed $5 of (universal) medical care that I've already paid for. It's nuts but it permeates so much of what we do.

On the other hand, Jesus said, “God gives rain to the just and the unjust alike.” So much for deserving farmers. And just to make sure we got the point, Matthew devoted the whole of chapter 25 to the topic. Note that nowhere in the chapter does he mention any reporting requirements. To Jesus, there is no such thing as the “deserving poor”. There are just the poor. Valley Churches United is smarter than those congress-persons and doesn't ask anything other than, “What do you need?” I guess they read Matthew 25 over there too.

Your diaconal thought for the month. Keep up the good work.Jim Leib

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Diocesan Convention

St. Andrew’s is a Parish in good standing in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real. That gives us voice and vote in the councils and affairs of the Diocese. Part of our responsibility as members is to participate in Diocesan Convention. All members of clergy who are canonically resident in the Diocese are delegates to convention; thus Blaine Hammond and Jim Lieb are delegates. Lay delegates are apportioned according to the average Sunday attendance (ASA) of the congregation. Since our average Sunday attendance is below 50 on most years, we get two lay delegates and up to two alternates. Lay delegates are elected at annual meet-ing. For this year, our delegates were Deidre Guindon and Ray Wentz. We had only one alternate, Sharon Fishel.

We could have used two alternates this year, as neither of our delegates could attend the Friday afternoon session. Our alternate was able to attend, however, impersonating Ray Wentz. Maybe we can get two alternates for next year.
One of the things Convention does is elect people to diocesan positions, though some positions are appointed by the Bishop. Elected this year were:

Sec’ty of the Diocese: The Rev. Maly Hughes of St. Francis, San Jose
Treasurer of the Diocese: Ms. Joanna Shreve of St. Timothy’s, Mountain View
Standing Committee, Clergy: The Rev. Caroline Hall, Rector, St. Benedict’s, Los Osos
Standing Committee, Lay: Ms. Lisa Gonzales of St. Benedict’s, Los Osos
Board of Trustees: Ms. Lynn Enns of St. Peter’s, Morro Bay; Mr. Joe Head of St. Francis, San Jose; The Rev. Linda McConnell of Good Shepherd, Salinas
Commission on Ministry, Clergy: The Rev. Barbara Miller, Assoc Priest, St. Peter’s, Morro Bay, 4-year term; The Rev. Richard B. Leslie, Rector, St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, to a 1-year term
Commission on Ministry, Lay: Ms. Janet Mize, St. Francis, San Jose, to 4-year term; Ms. Nancy Romer, Episcopal Church in Almaden, San Jose, to a 2-year term

Not many of the elections were contested this year. Perhaps someone at St. Andrew’s would like the experience of serving the Church at the Diocesan level next year?

Another of the duties of Convention is to consider Resolutions that are brought forward for discussion and a vote. Some of them are pretty ordinary and non-controversial; others are not. I will leave the non-controversial ones to a report to our congregational Annual Meeting and report on the more controversial ones here:

Resolution C: Permitting the Unbaptized to Receive Communion in Certain Circumstances. Passed as amended. According to Canon Law, unbaptized persons are ineligible to receive Communion, but many clergy are ignoring that statute. This resolution required the Bishop to appoint a “Eucharistic Welcome Study Committee” to study the practice and report to our next Diocesan Convention; and to send a resolution to General Convention in 2015 amending the Canon Law (I.17.7 for you lawyers) to add to the ineligibility rule an exception: that the unbaptized person must be receiving communion with the intent of beginning or strengthening a relationship with Christ and eventually being baptized, and the clergy in charge of the congregation of ascertaining that intent and providing counsel. That portion requiring clergy action was removed by amendment. The exception also required that Congregations inviting the unbaptized to receive must do so as a part of an evangelistic plan to welcome all people and strengthen their relationship with Christ and the Church.

Finally, it required congregations that desired to be part of the exception must obtain written consent from the Bishop every three years. That last part was also removed by amendment.

Resolution D: Abbreviated Diaconate for those ordained under Canon III.8. Defeated. This resolution would have eliminated the minimum time in which persons ordained to the priesthood would have had to serve as deacons. The current minimum is six months. It would have also required Convention to ask the General Convention to take the same action. Although there was support for it, and the vote was close, the Nays had it.

Resolution E: Equal Treatment of Couples. Passed. This resolution mandated our Diocesan Convention to submit a resolution to General Convention asking that the Church ensure that same-sex couples are treated equally with different-sex couples when they come to the Church asking to be married. It was noted that no member of clergy is required to marry anyone who comes to them asking for them to preside, nor are they required to make the site available for any marriage; so this did not force any action upon them. The request is really for respect.

Resolution F: Reduction of Fossil Fuels. Passed as amended. As originally proposed, the Resolution would have called upon all members to significantly reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and to divest themselves of any investments in companies which extract fossil fuels. It also called upon the Episcopal Church and its subsidiaries to divest all investments from companies which extract fossil fuels. By the time all the amendments had passed, all that was left was the call upon members to significantly reduce their dependence.

The blessing of attending Convention is largely in seeing what else is happening outside the doors of our congregation. “Mission-Commercials” were offered, telling us what some of our congregations and organizations are doing that is helping in their communities. One of those which made a report was the congregation we have been praying for, St. George’s in Salinas; another was our near neighbor, Calvary Church in Santa Cruz.

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St. Andrew's Women's Reading Group

Christmas Meeting
When: Saturday, December 13th, 2 pm
Where: Randi’s Home
Book: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
Most important: Bring a wrapped present for our Secret Santa and an appetizer to share for our feast!

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Pastoral Care: Will you be the hands and feet of Christ?

If you have ever had someone call on you when you were in need, or had someone not do so, you know how important this can be. Sometimes folks are not able to get to church, even though they would like to. But we are the church and we can go to them. This may involve a get well note, a phone contact, a personal visit, an anointing with oil with prayers for healing, or taking Holy Communion to a person’s home or to the hospital. You could sign up for any or all of these ministries. You may want to do this frequently or occasionally. Or only go on hospital visits, or phone calls only. You define your ministry as the Spirit has gifted you.

If you would like to participate in this simple but meaningful ministry, contact Elizabeth, at elizabethdhf@gmail.com.

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Connie Free adoption day (December 17)
Kathryn Free (December 20)
Don Alves (December 23)
Carol Free (December 25)
Christa Shanaman (January 4)
Christopher Mello (January 6)
Kim Rooks (January 10)
Jaime Butler (January 11)
Sandra Cadell (January 12)
Larry Laufenberg (January 15)
Sari Mitchell (January 17)
Kris Waller (January 18)
Sofia Davidson (January 24)
Victor Davidson (January 24)

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The Back Page...

Thanks for the Peace - Paula Jansen

During my quiet time this morning I was reminded that the best way for us to receive Jesus’ gifts of his presence and his peace is to thank him for those very things.

I realize that someone may be reading this and thinking that there is no way they’re going to thank anyone for whatever it is that’s going on in their life right now. Jesus doesn’t give us the tough times, however, he is always there with us whether we realize it or not. It’s up to us to decide if we’ll acknowledge his presence and accept his peace - or not.

That doesn’t mean I automatically knew why I was going through whatever it was or that whatever it was all of a sudden changed or went away or reversed itself. So what is this peace about? What difference does it make if it doesn’t make our situation change? The difference it makes is deep inside us. It’s a peace that we can’t understand; we can’t explain it, but all of a sudden we have peace. How could we feel peaceful in such a hard time? That isn’t something I can explain except to say nothing is impossible with Jesus. NOTHING. Miracles happen. And sometimes the miracle is us feeling hopeful at a time when we thought we’d never feel better again.

Try it. Thank Jesus for his peace and presence. Even if you don’t know who Jesus is. Even if you think this whole idea is really silly and a waste of time. Just try it. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for this day. Thank you for your peace. Thank you for your presence. Thank you.

The peace of God
Be over me to shelter me,
Under me to uphold me,
About me to protect me,
Behind me to direct me,
Ever with me.

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What do you think? Letters to the Editor are welcome! If you are interested in submitting an article in next month's newsletter, contact Elizabeth Forbes or Paula Jansen.