Thursday, September 19, 2013

Embracing the chaos. And that St.Patrick drove the snakes out of the Bronx


The day begins with a visit from a contingent from the Crenshaw Center East, a non-denominational church in the prosperity gospel tradition that has been holding forth in the old First Church of Christian Science building on 96th Street. I know the building well from visiting it for B’nai Jeshurun high holy day services back in the day.Crenshaw bought it from the Christian Scientists when their membership had dwindled to a couple of dozen.

The surprise here is that they’re looking for a new place. Seems like their landmarked building needs around 13-15 million in repairs. We tell them that not only are we not for sale, but even if they came here there’d be no bargain. One of their reps tells me that he was born and raised Presbyterian and his education was thanks to them. I think and where are you now? 

When they leave, Danielle and I have an extended conversation about Pentecostal vs charismatic vs prosperity. Look the same on the surface, but different.

Overly simplified, Pentecostals are a church of the poor. Or at least they don’t relate  wealth to salvation. The new charismatics in practice  tended to see wealth as proof of blessing. And the prosperity gospel takes it all the way. What Danielle calls magical thinking. I tell her about Rev. send your money to me and you’ll get rich Ike. And Jim PTL Bakker. And how Tammy Faye became an icon to the gay community and how what started out as gay ironic humor  became a true friendship and of her son Jay’s radical inclusive edgy tattooed bar ministry. And how I kind of liked Oral Roberts in his own crafty way because he never forgot his roots but how his son Richard was a self-entitled jerk. (There are other words I’d rather use, but...)

And how as much as I get the you get back what you send out message, like Oprah and the Secret,   it can lead to blaming the victim when things don’t go well. And how in the hospital people say to me I don’t know what I must have done that God would do this to me. That if they could answer that, there would still be order in the universe.

Is that how you’ve handled all this? She asks. I look at her puzzled. That you accept the chaos? 
Yes, I say, perhaps even embrace it.

Dennis B is in and I hear his voice get loud on the phone. Apparently one of the life skills mentors has issues with the building. How will this get resolved? It is what it is, we are what we are. 

RL passing through. Anna in for a chat. It’s the anniversary of the occupation of Zucotti by #OWS.

See Marty on the street. He speaks! First time in months. He was silent all summer. Is it cooler weather or a meds remix? I say Have a sweet New Year.
Marty says, It’s like the Jewish St.Patrick’s day. St.Patrick drove the snakes out of the Bronx.
I laugh.
See, made you laugh. I made your day. Were you ever a chaplain?
Not military,just police and fire.
My father had a friend who was a chaplain. Said he left part of himself at Flanders Field. It’s history. When I was at CCNY, my world history final, the professor told me if I’d written more, he’d have given me an A, not a B+. Said I had the finest handwriting he’d ever seen. I had beautiful hand writing. My father said, if you’ve got a problem, wrote it all down. Let it sit. Come back to it a week later. You’ll see the solution. I had beautiful hand writing.
Sweet New Year, Marty. He’s talking again.

Jeremy stops in. Just back from Switzerland. The conversation about chaos picks up again. I say that the Genesis creation story was based on the Babylonian creation myth. The world was tohu v bohu, without form and void, chaos. God brings order out of chaos. Tiamat, the sea monster, is defeated. But as my friend pastor Heidi says, yes, but Tiamat’s always there, just waiting. And despite our desire to believe all is ordered, we see her when  she lifts her ugly head.
I have trouble with the God’s plan business, he says. I think you guy have it right when you say, you never know for sure. Only God knows. His theology was Calvin’s way f embracing,accepting the chaos. Knowing that for all we know, we don’t.

We head down to Madison Square. Awaiting the #OWS march from Zucotti. They’re, of course, running late. Jeremy goes off to find and join the  march. I head to the Players’ Club to see Frog and Peach's  12th Night.

Chaos under control for the night.

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