Archive for June, 2013

Background: Adolescent Angst

Posted in Background with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2013 by timtrue

ad ang 2

What this contrast really confronted me with, now as I look back on it all, is something normal for most adolescents.  I was growing up, establishing my own identity, developing my own convictions; or, to put it another way, breaking away from my family.  Recent events may have hastened the process some.  But it was inevitable.

So I entered that time of limbo in human development.  Childhood was over.  Visions of the New Era of Adulthood, that Promised Land of freedom and (like it or not) responsibility, tantalized.  Here in the meantime was purgation, a. k. a. high school.

For me, part of figuring out who I was as an individual person, independent of my family, meant distancing myself.  I didn’t need anyone else’s help, counsel, feedback, authority.  Lame, I know, but that’s where my teenage mind led.  Anything I could do on my own with my own identifying signature attached to it was of interest to me; and the bolder the signature the better.

So team sports were out, for instance.  Well, they were out except for AYSO soccer.  High school soccer wasn’t for me, since it was attached to that institution where I was sentenced to spend most of my limbo incarceration.  But the AYSO soccer league allowed a distraction I guess, time with friends who shared similar feelings about high school as a place of limbo and as a way to stay in shape, or to get in better shape for the approaching winter.  Yes, winter, because in southern California winter was no excuse for staying indoors, and, more importantly, it brought snow to the local mountains, which inevitably meant snow skiing.

Now this was a sport that resonated.  I could purchase my lift ticket and be gone, all day if I wanted, enjoying speed, cold wind in my face, more speed, adrenaline rushes, airtime, and a catalog of glory-laden and emboldened signature stories at the end of the day, sitting in a hot tub or in front of a fire.  Heck, I thought, this is so great I might just have to move to Mammoth Mountain after high graduation.  Who needs college?

I also grew to love motorcycling, hiking, and bicycling; and toyed with surfing, but it never really took, though it beat team sports any day of the week.

Homework was another area I put as much of my own signature on as I could.  Dad was a brilliant engineer, as has already been mentioned.  So I had this great resource at my disposal for any class math- or science-related.  But do you think I used this resource?  I should have, yeah; but fool that I was I did not, unless the gig was up, usually about report card time, choosing instead to take a C on an exam rather than the A I could have earned with a little tutorial help.  Well did Mark Twain say, “When I was fourteen I was surprised at how little my dad actually knew; when I was twenty-one I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years.”  But I could say they were my grades.

My inherent creativity continued into adolescence.  It just started manifesting itself in ways that were more personal to me.  I wasn’t taking piano lessons anymore.  On my own, without a teacher, I was drawn both to Mozart and Chopin: Mozart appealed to the sanguine side of me; Chopin to the melancholy.  Sanguine and melancholy in the same personality?  A good case study for any psychologist!

A story comes to mind to illustrate this curious personality cocktail.  One Saturday afternoon during this limbo period of life I sat in a living room with my brother and a couple neighbor boys.  Halloween was approaching.  We all felt too old to put on costumes and trick-or-treat; but we all felt too young to stay home and open the door for little ones.  What to do?

My sanguine-melancholy self took charge.  “What if,” I suggested, “we all dressed up as thugs?  We can put on ski masks and grab baseball bats.  Then, let’s make a dummy and go down to the beginning of the street.”  (We lived in a rural setting and the beginning of the street, where it branched off from the more traveled East Loop, promised more traffic.)  “And whenever we see the glare of headlights nearing, we start beating the dummy until we’re sure we’re seen.  Then we run off in every direction and hide.”

They loved it.  And so I, a little brother and nearly the youngest of the group, found myself in uncharacteristic charge of a peer activity–which would bear my signature.

Trouble is, I discovered (as I have seen many times since) that no one really wanted to volunteer their time, talents, or stuff to the cause.  In this case it meant that I made the dummy, using a pair of blue jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of pantyhose I pilfered from my stepmom’s stash for the head; and stuffing it all with nearly every spare piece of clothing I had.  Shorts, socks, t-shirts, underwear–except for a few changes of clothes, everything went in.

So the night came: Halloween.  Dark set in.  The first trick-or-treaters appeared.  The time had come to execute our plan.  I grabbed my dummy, so lovingly put together, and my ski mask and baseball bat.  Outside my brother and three friends greeted me.  We giggled in anticipation.

Fifteen minutes later we were there, at the corner of East Loop and our street, with the anticipated glare of headlights drawing near.  We threw the dummy down in the middle of the street, straddling the double yellow, and started beating it.  I laughed so hard with each blow that my stomach hurt.  Then the headlights caught us full in the face.  And like a perfectly rehearsed play, we ran off in five different directions, into the avocado orchards and shrubbery of five different neighbors, leaving the dummy in the middle of the road.

That, by the way, was my mistake.  Not that it didn’t work!  Cars would screech to a halt, the driver would get out, poke and prod the dummy, then usually laugh or shake a head before getting back in the car and driving off.  Believe it or not, even a cop did this!  But long about the time our fun was winding down and we were talking about packing up and heading home, wouldn’t you know it, one last car came along.  We threw the dummy down and beat it until the headlights caught us then ran off, each to his own.  But this car’s driver, instead of giving the predictable head shake, kidnapped the dummy and drove off.

I never saw my clothes again.

And being so independent now, I never explained what happened to my parents.  Instead, until Christmas I lived with those three pairs of clothes (and surmise, though I can’t prove it, that thereby I started the grunge style).

I had relished the opportunity to be in charge, showing my sanguine colors to my impressed older brother and his and my friends.  But I moped around for two months–till Christmas when seemingly all my relatives gave me new clothes as gifts–languishing in a melancholy slump over my lost clothes.

So my adolescent angst was fairly typical.  But, on the other hand, I was asking questions none of my friends were.  So many of my friends would gaze at themselves overly long in the mirror, admiring their own growing muscles or gauging the emergence of facial hair, wondering how often to shave or how to catch a girl’s attention.  Or some of my jock friends would preoccupy their time with workouts and football strategies, contemplating and practicing ways to become that much better, faster, or more agile than the next guy.  But I wrestled with questions ontological, epistemological, and metaphysical.  What was the meaning of my existence?  How did I know whether I was awake or in a dream, whether the life I knew each day was actually the dream and my dreams were reality?  Was God real, and if so, how did an immanent God factor into my small world?

It was here, by the way, that the thought first occurred to me that I might be seeing the world too simply.  It was one way or the other to my adolescent mind, without much room for middle ground.  In my mind something was either right or wrong, good or bad, worthwhile or not.  Like snow skiing and high school.  Recognizing this tendency, then, I asked myself if I might perceive the good things I remembered from my childhood as better than they actually were.  I asked too whether the bad things might not be nearly as bad as I recalled.

The contrast I mentioned in my last post then, the one that confronted me abruptly?  Like Hermes, the messenger of the gods, it brought this most excellent question to me for the first time.

Anyway, my adolescent friends thought my questions were far out.  Too far out, in fact.  So I stopped asking them–out loud at least.

Background: Idyllic Childhood

Posted in Background with tags , , , on June 27, 2013 by timtrue
At the cusp of 13.  I'm the second from the left; my brother is to my right, holding the poker.  Avocado trees are in the background.

At the cusp of 13. I’m the second from the left; my brother is to my right, holding the poker. Avocado trees are in the background.

Since this blog is new as of about a week ago, and since my intent is to chronicle my pilgrimage as a priest–a twenty-five year plan, or thereabouts–it would probably be a good thing to provide some background now, before archives begin to form.  I’m forty-five after all.  This ain’t my first career.  So, what did I do before becoming a priest?  How did I come to the Episcopal Church?  Why San Antonio?

I think I’ll have to tackle this over several posts; one will be too lengthy.  Let me begin with my childhood then, and specifically with a stark contrast that blindsided me.  This contrast, as you will see, is something I needed to notice–though I didn’t want to.  And it has stuck with me through my life till now, profoundly shaping who I am today, affecting even how I view fatherhood and the priesthood.  Rather than tell you what it is outright, and how it has affected (and continues to affect) me, however, I will let you discover it as I have had to, over time and after reflecting.  So then:

It was an idyllic world for a boy, characterized by avocados and adventures: avocados because my family lived on a small orchard on the California coast; and adventures because of the vacations and getaways we enjoyed.

Dad was an engineer.  He worked for the Navy as a civilian in a one-of-a-kind research lab in Port Hueneme, researching and producing cool stuff that had something to do with the bottom of the ocean.  Business trips would take him to exotic places like Diego Garcia.  I wouldn’t see him for two or three weeks but I’d get some awesome souvenir upon his return, like a shark jaw, dried and preserved, or an elephant figurine carved out of wood.  In his spare time he enjoyed coaching my or my brother’s soccer team, volunteering as a cub scout or boy scout leader, maintaining our family’s property, or simply tinkering in the garage.  He never had down time; yet always seemed somehow to find time for me (and my brother).  As for the avocados, the annual crop was his way of setting some money aside for college funds for us boys.

Dad loved adventure.  This became particularly apparent after he got his driver’s license.  Southern California provides boys with minimal parental oversight and driver’s licenses ample adventurous scents to follow, from beaches with some of the best surfing waves in the world to high mountains with plentiful hiking trails and swimming holes; or, with his love for tinkering, manifest even as an adolescent, abundant motorcycle trails and car rallies.

He met Mom at twenty-one.  She was on the brink of eighteen, freshly graduated from high school, an original Valley Girl.  She was attracted to his adventuresome spirit like a fruit fly in May to communion wine, perhaps even drunk with it (as I suspect happens to fruit flies when palls are left off chalices).  He took her to motorcycle races.  He competed; she cheered him on; they fell in love.  They married in 1964–he was twenty-two, she nineteen–and bought a Porsche.  Model year 1959; model 356 B.  Their friends Dick and Carol did the same, only theirs was a Mini Cooper.  Both couples lived wild and free for a year maybe.  Then Mom got pregnant.  So did Carol.  Dad and Dick then rolled the Cooper in a rally–yeah, flipped it!–and it was more or less the end of those adventures.  For a time anyway.

The daily grind settled in for a long visit.  Dad got into his work and enjoyed it, saving enough money to buy the orchard property in 1971.  I was three when we moved in.  Incidentally, Dad has had the same phone number since.  But Mom began to get weary of her routine, which now consisted of toting kids around to preschool and tumbling and music classes.  She would find a sitter whenever possible, or break away as soon as Dad came home from work, to play tennis.  Obsessively.

I should have seen it coming.  But I was only five by now, when the signs began to show themselves.  I just thought it was normal parent behavior.

So–good strategy, now that I look back on it–Dad got us all into adventures, as a family.  We took fantastic vacations.  One time we drove our 1968 Dodge Sportsman (three-on-the-tree) van clear to Cabo San Lucas, back before it was commercialized, when it was still a bona fide fishing village, then took a ferry across the Sea of Cortez, landed at Puerto Vallarta (too just a fishing village then), and drove up the west coast of mainland Mexico back to our SoCal home.  I have shadowy memories of hammerhead sharks and flying fish, of hostile boys throwing rocks at me and chasing me until I escaped via an elevator with a providentially open door, of a giant crab painted on the bottom of a swimming pool, of sleeping in a hut with a thatched roof, of exciting and tingling smells rising from hot food unlike any I’d ever eaten, of walking out a hundred yards into the ocean in my pajamas and the water being only up to my knees.  It lasted five weeks.  What an adventure!

Another year we spent three weeks tooling around four of the Hawaiian islands, seeing the backside, if you will, of Hawaii.  Memories here include camping in a pop-top VW van on Maui, running across a beach covered with jet black sand on Kauai, and hiking some miles to a secluded beach where–to my seven year-old surprise–a group of women were sunbathing naked.  Mom and Dad looked at me then at each other, shrugged, and doffed their bathing suits too.  I followed suit, or, er, no suit as it were.  When in Hawaii, I figured.

Mom and Dad also got us brothers into snow skiing and backpacking at an early age, something like four for me and six for my brother.  Majestic parts of the Sierras were only a few hours’ drive, so why not?  By the time I was twenty I had experienced mama bears with cubs up close, hiking over snow-covered 13,000-foot passes in August, and enough blizzardy weather to make Abel Tasman proud.  I daydreamed my way through college with visions of summiting Kilimanjaro, Denali, and Aconcagua.  Dad had instilled adventure in me all right!

But it didn’t work.  Tennis wasn’t enough.  Maybe there weren’t enough adventures for her liking.  Maybe she was still harboring a grudge that Dad had sold the Porsche to our pediatrician.  Whatever the case, Mom announced to us guys one day that she had had enough of regular, routine, bland life.  I was on the cusp of thirteen.

By the way, Dick and Carol’s marriage had dissolved by then too.

To the point, earlier I used the word idyllic.  That’s how I saw my life as a boy.  Life was a well-oiled machine for me.  School came around every year in September.  I’d wake up every morning at 6:53am, shower, dress, breakfast, and catch the bus by 7:40.  School began at 8:15, recess bell rang at 10:00, lunch at 11:30, and the end of the school day came at 2:45pm.  Then I’d go home, grab a snack, practice the piano, do my homework, and complete any chores, working around the family dinner.  At certain times of the year we’d adapt to soccer, track, and boy scout schedules; but there was a stable, steady, clear routine.  This was day-to-day life.  Interspersed through the year, of course, were the adventures.  These messed up the day-to-day routine, sure; but, oh, were they fun!  Besides, the daily grind was waiting for us when we got home, sure as a Swiss watch.

But the divorce threw all this into upheaval.  The idyllic family life that I had come to associate with stability and security was suddenly gone.  Nothing seemed stable now.

This of course is the contrast that blindsided me: family stability vs. upheaval.  But, as I said already, I needed to see this contrast, to live it.  You will begin to see why next time.

First-rate English Music

Posted in Music with tags , , , on June 25, 2013 by timtrue

tallis and byrd

Print by Gerhard van der Gucht, 18th c.

Gustav Holst’s The Planets is first-rate music.

Here is a curious thing: the piece is characteristically Holst, yet it is at the same time characteristically English.  That is, suppose you had some musicologist who knew a lot about early twentieth century music yet who had (impossible, I know, but for the sake of argument) never heard this piece of music.  Not only would the musicologist say “English” after hearing only a few bars, he or she would also almost certainly say “Holst!”

Now take the musicologist out of the picture.  What about The Planets makes it distinctly English?  And what makes it Holst’s?

I think the questions are really one and the same; don’t let the layers persuade you otherwise.  One deals with England on a societal level, as a culture.  The other perceives the effects of that culture upon an individual Englishman.  But it’s really the same issue: English music of the early twentieth century—and the English people who composed it—is distinct from contemporaneous music from the Continent, or from America, or from South America, Africa, or Asia.  Holst shares a bond with Vaughan Williams that he does not share with Mahler, Copland, Ginastera, or any other first-rate, non-British composer of his time.

So English music is somehow its own beast, different from the musics of the Old World and the New.  Why?  An answer is difficult to articulate, no doubt because the question is so large.  Still, I think we can begin to scratch the surface.

If we go back a few centuries, to the sixteenth, we run into a remarkable English court musician by the name of Thomas Tallis.  He began his sixty-year career during the reign of Henry VIII and completed it during Elizabeth’s, working until his death in 1585.  Now if you don’t find that significant then you need to brush up on your history.  For Henry initiated a religious split from the Roman Church, declaring himself and not the Pope as the English Church’s supreme Head.  Following his death, Edward VI came to the throne, as thoroughly Protestant as any English monarch ever was.  Next, Jane Grey jumped (or was she pushed?) in as monarch for nine days before Mary, a. k. a. Bloody Mary, came to the throne in 1553.  Mary was as Roman Catholic in word as Edward VI was Protestant; in deed she is remembered for the public executions of nearly 400 Protestants in five years.  Finally, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 and settled the religious drama by solidifying the Anglican Church, an institution not Catholic enough for the Romans and certainly not Protestant enough for the Lutherans and Calvinists.  As for Tallis, he navigated these rough religious waters admirably, the only court employee to endure these four (or five, if you count Grey) monarchies.

When Tallis began serving as a Court Musician, polyphony was all the rage on the Continent.  Think Palestrina, if you know the name.  But then Luther got people thinking.  And that John Calvin character!  One voice would leap over another, three beats behind it, only to be overrun by another, and yet another, and all of it sung on a single syllable of that dead language Latin—how could anyone even grasp what the message is!  Protestants called for musical simplicity, one syllable per note.  Polyphony was too complex, like the devil.  But for Tallis—whether because he found the melodies and simple harmonies too bland for his musical sensibilities or because he was a Catholic at heart, I don’t know—something a bit more complex, but not so complex as polyphony, resulted, and apparently Henry and Edward were okay with it.  Under Mary, Tallis produced some complex polyphony (listen to Puer natus est nobis if you ever get the chance), persuading me at any rate that he remained Catholic through all the hubbub.  And under Elizabeth, while leaving behind polyphony for the most part, we still see awe-inspiring complexity.  His famous forty-voice motet Spem in alium comes from this period.

The point in all this is that by the time Elizabeth acceded to the throne, Tallis had come into his own musically; and his own was nothing like the Protestant or Catholic music on the Continent.  Like the Anglican Church, Tallis’s music was unique.  For that matter, Tallis the man was unique.

Tallis forged a new road musically then.  Is it difficult to see that Holst still travels that same, unique British road in the early twentieth century?  Could we say the same for the Beatles? Led Zeppelin? Pink Floyd? Sting? Adele?

Planet of the Apes, the Gospel, and Gustav Holst

Posted in Movies with tags , , on June 23, 2013 by timtrue

Last night I watched the 2001 film Planet of the Apes.  One of my kids, Hannah, gave the DVD to me for Father’s Day, a generous gesture considering her meager income of a weekly allowance and the occasional odd job, when the mood strikes–her, that is, not me.  I had no idea what to expect other than what I could recall from reruns viewed as a child, usually on days when I stayed home from school sick and my mother had no idea what else to do with me.  “Why don’t you watch some TV?” she would say.  The episodes were, in a word, cheesey.  But, hey, that was the seventies and everything had to be done with makeup, trick photography, and wires.  And what more did a boy’s imagination need anyway?  Now, however, I had a DVD in my hand made in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and and Helena Bonham-Carter and directed by Tim Burton.  Surely, with names like this, here would be the real deal, filled with awesome computer-animated visual effects and surround sound to tantalize the auriculars.  Surely, at least, this imagination-triggering full-length motion picture wouldn’t be cheesey, right?

Wrong!  Apparently Tim Burton wanted to keep the seventies cheese feel.  The apes were computer-unenhanced people with basic masks and makeup, to include a lot of hair, just like in the seventies.  When Wahlberg’s character’s spacecraft crash-landed on the planet of the apes in a pond (an event that bore striking resemblance to Luke Skywalker’s crash-landing once upon a time when he was seeking Yoda), the special effects consisted of an underwater air-hose, underwater lights, a smoke machine, and a fan.  Ooh, eerie!

Now I’m sure that Mr. Burton spent long hours and hard work to make the masks, apply the makeup and hair just right, and construct the elaborate sets needed for his re-telling of the Christ story (a hero, Wahlberg, fell out of the sky and reconciled enemies–whether people (and apes) would choose to believe it or not), and deliberately avoided the animating enhancement capabilities of computers.  Maybe Mr. Burton was trying to make some kind of statement; I don’t know, I haven’t watched, nor have I made any plans to watch, the thirteen hours of special features included on my special edition 2-disc DVD set.  But even the most elaborate set and the most detailed artistry, sadly, Mr. Burton, cannot compete with the technologically advanced visual effects that can be done on a few computers in rude cubicles in some office on Sunset Blvd.  Your attempt at old-school then, Mr. B, felt, well, old.  And in the film industry that translates as second-rate, B-film cheese.

Near the end of the film, Wahlberg’s character returns to earth.  But don’t worry, I’m not about to spoil the ending.  For that you’ll have to go out and rent it and watch it yourself.  Or buy it.  Heck, you can borrow my DVD if you like.  Just make sure to get it back to me by, um, this time, er, next, uh, millennium or so.  Anyway, you, the viewer, can tell Wahlberg’s character, shooting through space at warp speed in another spacecraft, is nearing earth because he passes near a planet with telltale rings, Saturn.  But if that weren’t enough of a clue there is loud, spacey music, strikingly similar to, but not quite–oh, what the devil is that piece?  Why of course!  It’s Gustav Holst’s The Planets.  Oh, wait, it’s not really.  Just similar.  And you realize that, like everything else in the movie, the music too is just a second-rate rip off of something first-rate.  Even the cheesey show of my boyhood sick days might be first-rate, arguably anyway, in the sense of its originality.  But this!  Its makeup, its storyline, even its music–they’re all rip-offs!

I think I’ll take Hannah out for a first-rate matinee soon.  Any suggestions?

Still an Enthusiast

Posted in Motorcycle with tags , , on June 21, 2013 by timtrue

I crashed my motorcycle for the first time today.  Check out this road rash.  DSCF2780  Pretty, eh?  There are other damaged areas on the bike–the left hand guard, the kickstand, and the left passenger footpeg–but this, the tank guard, is the worst.  Fortunately, it’s nothing a few bucks and wrenches can’t replace.  Smart bike makers, those KTM engineers.

Now check out the road.  DSCF2788  See those gouges across the pavement?  They’re from the passenger peg and kickstand, a memorial of sorts, to remind me every time I leave the church parking lot of that time I wrecked.

So what about me?  I’ll spare you the pictures, but . . .

I was leaving the church parking lot, heading home to let the piano movers in.  They had arrived.  I was excited.  Maybe a little too excited.  Hey, I hadn’t tickled the ivories in almost two months.  So on the second turn out of the lot I leaned into a leftward turn.  Routine, for the most part, but no one was around, so I may have leaned too far, and maybe I was going a little faster than prudent.  It was like I hit a patch of black ice.  Only it was ninety degrees, so whahuh?

A thousand questions passed through my head in a split second: Why does it feel like my front tire is not grabbing the pavement?  Crap, I must be going down.  Why here, in front of the church?  Why now, during my first week on the job?  I wonder how much this will hurt.  I wonder if the VBS kids are watching.  What’s my new boss going to think?  Should I call in sick this afternoon?  What am I going to tell my wife?  Et cetera.

The impact wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated.  In fact, I hardly felt anything.  I just remember stopping short while the bike kept going, sliding, nearly horizontal, across the pavement.  I wonder how much that’ll decrease its value, I thought.  Thus it slid, very slowly it seemed, into a curb when the tire, still spinning as the engine idled, gripped the pavement and the engine stalled.  At least I didn’t need to flip the kill switch.

So I got to my feet.  Still no noticeable pain.  Really?  Next, I didn’t go to the bike.  Whatever damage had been done was there now and wouldn’t go away.  And no more would be done for the time being.  Instead, then, I walked to the point in the road where I figured the tire slid.  I don’t really know why I did this, unless it was my disbelief.  I crashed.  I actually crashed.  Anyway, no sand, no gravel, nothing discernible.  Huh.  Like it or not, I concluded humbly, this crash was due to my own stupidity.

The next task was to pick the bike up.  It weighs about 500 pounds, a fact I’d known in my mind since purchasing it, but not in my flesh.  In a word, it’s heavy.  After some trial and error–stress error–turning my back to the bike and grabbing strategically then using my legs for leverage, and grateful I don’t own an 800-pound Harley, I managed somehow to succeed.

That’s when I first noticed my elbow.  It cried foul, stinging as if I hadn’t been wearing my armor-embedded mesh coat over my short-sleeved clericals.  Good thing I had been.

By the time I arrived home, ahead of the piano movers incidentally, both knees were hurting too.  Was that a bloodstain on my right pant leg?  Yes.  Yes, it was.

By the time the piano movers did arrive, some minutes later, I had been able to tend to my elbow and knees.  Not much damage, really: a few strawberries, one stanched by a bandaid, the right knee.  But by now some more pain had surfaced.  A Charlie horse.  A sore left shoulder.  And, worst of all, a sore ribcage, the left side, hurting every time I take a deep breath (still).  But I don’t think anything’s broken.

Now, with the piano movers here, the bride and kids get home from VBS.  Time to face the music, I think, still jittery from an overdose of adrenaline.  Long story short, the kids see my strawberries and guess what happened; the bride, whom I thought was preoccupied fixing lunch in the kitchen, exclaims, “What!”; and the piano movers tacitly snigger.  The bride then asks, “Are you done now with your midlife crisis?  Aren’t you ready to sell your motorcycle?”

I decide not to call in sick after all.

Besides, I’ve had worse bicycle accidents.

For the record, then, I remain a resolute motorcycle enthusiast.

In any event, there are many parallels here, yeah?  I’m on a journey.  We all are.  Most of the time it’s an enjoyable ride, things are more or less predictable, even when the road ahead is unfamiliar.  But occasionally something unpredictable happens.  Maybe we’re victimized; maybe it’s due to our own stupidity.  Maybe we come away feeling fortunate or even lucky, with only a few scrapes and bruises.  Maybe it’s actually worse than we realize initially, with aches and pains and other trials fully realized only in time.  Whatever the case, it’s time to work through what has come to pass.

The purpose of my blog is to chronicle my priestly pilgrimage ahead–something like a twenty-five year project (I’ll be seventy in twenty-five years).  No doubt I will encounter many such scrapes and bruises along the way.  Or worse.  I hope I can handle them with similar aplomb as this motorcycle crash.

Whatever the case, I intend to remain an enthusiast of the priesthood.

The Blog Begins

Posted in Rationale with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by timtrue


For years I’ve lurked in the shadows of cyberspace.  I’ve watched as a friend decides to follow a recent fad, becomes quite passionate about it, persuades me to jump on the band wagon too because, don’t you know, everyone is doing it, it’s the new printing press and you don’t want to be left behind after all, do you?  Only then, too often, and often quite soon, the zeal fades, the fad fizzles, and the friend is left with another username and password for the archives of the mind.  And cyberspace is that much more cluttered.

So has gone my rationale for putting off a blog.  “It won’t last,” I’d tell myself, “your interest in it will go out like a neglected birthday candle.  No one’s gonna be reading blogs in a couple of years.  Just watch.  You’ll see.”  Or I’d discourage myself with thoughts of maintenance.  Who wants to take the time to keep up with a blog, checking it every day, corresponding with followers, and so on?  So I pushed the thought of starting one aside.  Again.  And again.

Then I went off to seminary, to become a master of divinity.  Now the academic load was rigorous, certainly too busy and full for someone to start and maintain a blog, especially when that someone has five kids to keep fed, clothed, driven to and from soccer practice, and otherwise happy.

Yet all through these years the fad didn’t fizzle.  Blogs continued to flourish, all over cyberspace.

So now it is my turn.  I’m beginning a blog.

But it’s not because I’m finally getting with the program or jumping on the band wagon or participating in any other cliché of preference.  Instead, for one thing, I like to write.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have written for regular publications–informal newsletters and the like–for years.  Some know too that I have written a book and three-quarters with another mapped out in my head, a ghost story in fact.

For another, the time is right.  Having just graduated from seminary as a master of divinity (whatever that means), and having more recently begun a job as a curate with an Episcopal parish in San Antonio, I am at a real turning point in life.  I will be ordained as an Episcopal priest on July 7.

This blog will serve a real purpose then: a journal to map out my pilgrimage as a priest.

To round out this inaugural post, then, I offer a few comments on blog choices.  First, my title, vivens in sacerdotium, is Latin for “living into the priesthood.”  I chose this title because it suggests that the priesthood is a calling, a true vocation, not what I do but who I am.  The “living” part of the title is a present active participle, suggesting that my calling is an ongoing thing, that I can and should be ever increasing and growing in my calling as a priest.

The Latin hopefully conveys that there’s a lot more to me than whatever your stereotypical understanding of a collared man of the cloth is.  I taught Latin for a number of years prior to becoming a priest–and may even continue teaching it if an opportunity presents itself.  That, and my many other deep interests–in music, philosophy, family, education, and motorcycles, to name but a few–all shape who I am as I live into my vocation.

Finally, the blog’s color scheme is the same as my motorcycle’s: I couldn’t pass this format up.