Archive for February, 2015

Lenten Malaise

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Lent is only 1/8 over and lassitude seems already to have set in. I can’t remember a year when so few people talked about what they were giving up for Lent or what activities they wanted to take on.

Fortunately, we have a series of lectures coming up on “Faith and the Emotions,” as well as a series of House Eucharists in parishioners’ homes. Both of these activities are new; I hope they will do something to relieve the boredom of Lent here at Incarnation.

Some of the malaise may stem from the unremitting bad weather of this winter. So much of our lives are indoors, it’s amazing that we care so much about the climate outside.

All the more reason to look inside–not least, to look at the state of our souls. —J. Douglas Ousley


Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

A large task force of Episcopal Church leaders has prepared a massive proposal of church restructuring that will be considered by the General Convention this summer. The House of Bishops is now getting ready to elect a new Presiding Bishop, who will serve for nine years.

The winds of change are blowing, which is just as well, since membership in the Episcopal Church declines every year, and dioceses pay less and less of the money they owe to the national church (about one-fifth of assessments aren’t paid.) Unfortunately, restructuring is can be a great substitute for the kind of change that actually increases membership and builds up the church.

Politicking to elect a new leader provides an excuse to avoid the harder work of deciding what a leader ought to say and do. Changing the structure of the church doesn’t necessarily help it define membership. People will be more likely to join us if they know what we stand for. —J. Douglas Ousley

Better Ways to End It All

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

With 10 parishioners infirm, sick, or otherwise ailing, I read with great interest Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande is a surgeon who teaches at Harvard and writes wonderful pieces for The New Yorker.

Two takeaways for me from this important book on aging and end-of -life-issues:

***There are new nursing facilities that allow for some independence–even at the risk that patients will fall or otherwise injure themselves. I can’t wait for such a place to open in New York City, where most patients are confined to their wheelchairs most of the day.

***Those with terminal illness can often reduce their discomfort by palliative care. To do so, they forego aggressive treatment that has little chance of healing them. This is certainly a better way to approach death–and, for Christians, to prepare for life with God. —J. Douglas Ousley