Monday, August 13, 2007

Virus detection

System Integrity Restore

Joel Osteen had a brilliant metaphor- he said this Sunday from a church that fills literally a stadium, that he had to go get his computer cleaned of all the viruses and restored to its original factory settings because it crashed. You know where I am going with this. The owner's manual for the original factory settings is obviously scripture- the Maker's manual for how everything is supposed to run at maximal strength, capacity and functionality.
Viruses can get pretty sophistocated, and they are damned sneaky and invidiously invasive. They can entirely hijack a system. You know what I am talking about -spyware, adware, and all kinds of viruses that masquarade as something attractive to you which end up hijacking your files and programs. Sometimes they come as emails that are designed to attract you to open them, then BAM!-you have just downloaded something you didn't realize you downloaded and it is now invading your system. Pretty damned sneaky. Once they rape your systems, the entire thing crashes. Evil.
The cultural virus that prompted Judge Bork to write an entire book on "Slouching toward Gemhorah" is condemned by others as too much prudery. The point is well taken however- It's a virus-a slippery slide to a quicksandish mudhole to let the occasional lapses in virtue free-fall flat out into the kind of corrosive immorality that forces your whole system to crash. But make no mistake, it really can do just that.
Paul says in Corinthians, -listen-don't even eat with a brother who is physically immoral-(certainly don't eat Christ in the Eucharist with such a brother) because whether he knows it or not, it is a whoredom-he has linked his body, and thus Christ's body to a prostitute- and Christ and prostitutes can't live in the same body - he will crash the entire system right out of the Kingdom of Heaven- you can count on it. And it all looked so attractive and enticing in the beginning. Don't even eat with such a brother. Certainly don't eat Christ in Eucharist with such a brother- how "unworthy" would that be? Remember the penalty for taking the body of Christ in an unworthy fashion- it's for that some of you are sick?
Note that Paul isn't limiting the use of the term "prostitute" to someone who officially holds that profession with a business card- the act of infection, interjection of this sort of virusic attention, like a venereal disease on the soul, is what makes the offending personality a prostitute. Generally, the packaging looks more innocent-otherwise evil would be too easy to see for what it is and that much easier to resist. Evil is wiley.
It mascarades as attractive things all the time- otherwise it would be powerless to tempt.
(Note to confessors- love for the prostitute does nothing to restore the original factory settings, and lack of love for same is not meritous of ten Hail Mary's and an Our Father;
Recall that the only woman reported in scripture whose body was thrown to the dogs to devour is a woman who held high title, position and social standing, a killer of God's prophets named Jezebel. )

Stuart McAlpine, Pastor of Christ our Shepherd Church in DC, a wise missionary son Pastor, and father of enough children to fill a softball team or Scout Troop, once said that whenever you engage physically with someone who is not God's intended for you- your beloved, you "rape your soul." You knew that once upon a time-when you were a small child dreaming of wearing your flowing white wedding dress-like the one Julie Andrews wore in the Sound of Music, or Princess Diana wore with a train that went down the entire aisle of the Cathedral, or when you dreamed of wearing your wedding tuxedo flanked by your best man looking at the girl who looked like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

The settings for purity, piety, holiness and innocence that you were born with are the original factory settings. The slouching toward self justified lapses in virtue is not in the program- it's a virus with the capability to infect everthing such that your immune system is entirely compromised. That is what is meant by vigilence. Remember the ladies with the lamps that didn't go out? Remember the sleeping disciples who couldn't even stay awake with Jesus?
When you open that email (one the rest of us might have already figured out is -hello-SPAM!-) that's what you are- the napping disciple who broke the snooze alarm.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ken Jacques-You Wish You Knew Him

Pray for Us Ken Jacques

This morning Washington is sadder. It is raining because God is crying. I received through the Holy Trinity listserve notice that our friend Ken Jacques passed on Saturday night.
This cannot go without mention because there are trumpets, trombones, flutes, harps and
seven levels of angelic choirs ushering him into heaven. And you never knew him.
Ken Jacques was a bit of an odd bird to the casual observer. He was not anything much to look at (sort of in the same way they said Jesus wasn't), a guy approaching 60, kind of rumpled, speckled with grey, clothes a bit outdated, like someone who wore the same tweed jacket for thirty years and patched its elbow every ten, alternating with his favorite Mister Rogers style sweater. Once in a while when talking he would throw in a Latin phrase letting his high class private or very catholic education leak in his speech. He was a member of something called the Sera Society which is a Society devoted to supporting and praying for Priests and I saw him at breakfast meetings there at the Washington Hilton. He was a veritable fixture at church and church functions where he always cheerfully helped with whatever needed doing. He was one of those people who was annoyingly at times cheerful, even when life for the rest of us looked wildly out of control. He was a smiling jovial rock. He always had some interesting "remind me to tell you the one about..." story. Just seeing him made you feel grounded.
I met him when he ran the Christmas shelter at Holy Trinity where DC's homeless women with children get to spend a Christmas in a church basement and be showered with the benevolence of the Parish during the season. We cooked dinner for them together in the church basement. He fed every night many families who might have lived by the river on Christmas under a bridge but for this program. I'm not kidding folks. In our nations Capital people sleep under a bridge by the river. He served them like they each were his family- he was no less kind and generous than he would be to his siblings or parents. The food had to be good and we all had to sit and eat with them, hold hands and pray with them, and make it our family dinner table for the nights we served them.
Ken rode the buses around Washington, he didn't have a car or many possessions. Just what he needed. What would he need? He had his own apartment but his real job was to take care of homeless people in shelters. He lived with them in the evenings, made sure the showers worked, they had toothbrushes and slept well. He was the kind face they woke up to each morning.
When I first met him, almost the first day, he confided that he was praying for funds for some sort of Glaucoma surgery, and I prayed with him. I just met him. The thought crossed my mind-hey, I should give this guy funds for his glaucoma surgery, but then thought- I just met this guy! that's crazy, what if he starts to like me.

The next time I saw him, someone else whom he liked gave him money for his glaucoma surgery. Someone else got those wings. I failed that test.

I would see Ken all over Washington over almost a fifteen year period. If you didn't know him he is the kind of guy you wouldn't take much notice of. He made me feel like there was nothing more important in my crazy harried lawyerly Washington way than giving that bottle of water I reserved for the gym to the old homeless crazy lady standing alone in the Washington heat with her shopping cart of black bags full of all her possessions. He made me feel like- hey, that homeless guy over there probably can speak Latin. That homeless lady over there- she might actually have a kid sleeping by the river under a bridge.
The next time someone I just met asks me, or prays with me for money for his glaucoma and I actually have money sitting in a bank somewhere, I am going to give it to him.

I want Ken Jacques to like me.

A Celebration of the Life of Ken Jacques
will take place
Holy Trinity Church
Funeral Mass
Thursday Evening
August 9, 2007
7 PM
Reception to follow in Mc Kenna Hall

Luke 16:22 -31
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, when he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him. Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus (the beggar) to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire. but Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets let them listen to them." "No, father Abraham", he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." He said to him "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." [which is, of course, exactly what Jesus Yeshua of Nazareth did]